Psychological Support: A Must for Creating Corporate Culture Wellness

To support employees across the spectrum, employers need to bake diversity and accessibility into their programs

Psychological Support: A Must for Creating Corporate Culture Wellness

Companies looking towards on-going success need to simultaneously be:

  • Attractive for recruiting
  • Caring for retention
  • Consistent for engagement
  • Proactive to be competitive

These requirements are challenging on their own and have been further complicated by the pandemic, mentally overloading employees, and creating significant emotional turmoil for some of them. Mental health resources are overburdened, which is causing significant delays before people receive care. To ensure employees can get the help they need, employers should take a step back to make sure that there aren’t any gaps in the psychological support services they offer. To provide the best possible employee experience and truly stand out, employers need a broad vision across all the programs they offer to create a corporate culture of wellness.

By closely watching market trends, constantly monitoring options available, providing an integrated vision of the various programs in place, and ensuring that services offered are competitive and complement each other, the experts at Normandin Beaudry recommend the following.

Investing in Mental Health

Many employees have trouble accessing professional help and are encountering unusually long wait times before they start receiving care. According to Statistics Canada, more than 50 per cent of employees in 2021 said they lived with a disability due to a mental health problem, up 6.2 per cent compared to the previous two years.

With labour in short supply across Canada, companies have everything to gain by implementing support measures to reduce absenteeism, while showing employees that they care about their mental health.

According to data from Normandin Beaudry’s 2022 remuneration survey, 95 per cent of organizations have set up an Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP), while 58 per cent offer virtual care services. The company foresees that these numbers will continue to rise as more organizations embrace a holistic approach to employee support services, especially if they want to stand out from the competition.

Supporting Employees Across the Spectrum

According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, an individual’s mental health spectrum can span between mental well-being to psychological distress, moving from ‘green’ to ‘yellow’ to ‘red’ depending on what’s going on in their lives and the obstacles they face. To a certain extent, this concept separates psychological well-being from necessarily having a diagnosis.

Since an employee could be anywhere on the spectrum, all possibilities must be considered when assessing and expanding the range of psychological support services offered. It is recommended to offer employees prevention and awareness-raising tools to promote greater well-being while providing support through short-, medium-, and long-term care for those who are going through a period of vulnerability or psychological distress.

Providing a Full Range of Psychological Support Services

When assessing the scope of existing mental health programs and resources, employers should first analyze group insurance plan coverage (type of professionals, reimbursement percentage, maximum reimbursable amount, etc.) and determine if the services offered meet the various needs of employees regardless of where they may be on the spectrum. They then need to identify any gaps to ensure that the psychological support services offered to employees and their families complement each other.

Two essential criteria that should be integrated into this process: diversity and accessibility.

Diversity of Consultation Methods and Types of Professionals

Emerging virtual consultation methods, whether self-guided (online cognitive behavioural therapy) or self-service (wellness library, health questionnaire, etc.), make it possible to diversify the services offered and allow action to be taken more quickly and with shorter wait times. They also offer those who would not necessarily be willing to start a more ‘traditional’ consultation process the ability to explore solutions and tools.

Diversity, in this context, also means providing access to various types of professionals, such as psychotherapists, psychoeducators, occupational therapists, psychologists, social workers, and other therapists who can respond to a much broader range of needs and concerns.

Consequently, it is advisable to review the types of professionals covered by your group insurance plan and ensure that they are indeed members of their respective professional orders to protect employees.

Accessibility Requires an Integrated Plan

Although it’s not always the best solution for an organization, an integrated ‘one-stop-shop’ plan makes accessing health services easier by breaking down silos of care, simplifying the process for employees. In doing so, employees no longer need to wonder where to go to seek out assistance, they would receive guidance throughout the process and are given with the best personalized resources.

Whether it’s through their group insurance coverage or services offered by a separate healthcare provider, employees should be able to receive support until their situation is resolved. A number of employers are redesigning their programs to increase both the maximum reimbursable amounts and the reimbursement percentage for psychological support services.

Other healthcare providers have opted to focus on a clinically appropriate approach rather than a set number of hours per individual, per year. This option allows professionals the flexibility required to resolve an issue in the short term.

Additionally, employers should address the importance of covering employees’ immediate families to enhance their peace of mind and, in turn, performance.

Ultimately, employers must make informed choices that support all employees across the entire mental health spectrum. They need to establish solutions based on diversity and accessibility, which will become cornerstones for their company’s growth and success.


Suzanne Paiement is Partner, Health at Normandin Beaudry.