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5 Smart Ways To Use Wellness Dollars Now To Improve Employee Mental Health

Updated: Nov 2, 2023

Five ways to use your wellness dollars and remaining HR budget to support employee mental health.
Image from Getty Images "Mental Health In The Workplace" curation in partnership with Mind Share Partners

Savvy HR, people, and talent leaders know that most workers want their employers to prioritize mental health. Companies need to invest in culture-changing and stigma-reducing initiatives—beyond perks and benefits and can use insurance wellness dollars to fund it. In this article, we share five cost-effective—yet highly impactful—workplace mental health solutions to maximize your wellness dollars and remaining HR budget.

Wellness Dollars Can Be Used To Invest in Workplace Mental Health Initiatives

In our work with global organizations, we’re noticing companies deploy their insurance-funded corporate wellness dollars—also called carrier wellness funds, or health engagement/improvement funds—towards mental health. Wellness dollars are funds insurance carriers include in their coverage for companies to invest in employee health initiatives, and they cover a wide range of corporate wellness programs.

You may not realize that you have wellness dollars at your disposal. These funds must be used by the end of the year, or you lose them. Find out if your insurance provider includes wellness dollars in your plan. If they are, inquire about what types of corporate wellness programs qualify. If not, consider negotiating them into your contract for the next plan year.

The following five strategies are examples of ways to use your expiring wellness dollars or remaining HR or L&D budget to support employee mental health.

Host A Mental Health Storytelling Event At Your Workplace

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Carrier wellness funds also cover events that promote awareness and conversation around employee wellbeing. Mental health storytelling is one of the most powerful tools to encourage openness and transform organizational culture.

At Mind Share Partners, we help organizations create mental heath storytelling events for all-team meetings and company offsites and retreats. These events aim to decrease stigma and isolation around mental health while communicating company resources and responses.

We also offer one-on-one storytelling coaching calls for leaders (what we call “leader ally coaching”) to guide executives around sharing their personal mental health stories in an empowering way. Learn more about the importance of this growing leadership skill, and watch C-level leader ally stories here.

Train Managers On How To Support Their Team’s Mental Health

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Managers have the ability to create work and team environments that have a positive impact on their team’s wellbeing. A recent poll found that managers have a greater influence on employee mental health than therapists or doctors and equal to that of their team members' spouses and partners. As mental health at work continues to worsen, we’re finding many managers want to support their team members better, but feel unclear about what their role is and tangible ways they can best support their teams.

At Mind Share Partners, one of the most impactful things we’ve seen our clients do is to train their managers on how to navigate mental health on their teams. We offer both core manager training sessions and ongoing deeper dive sessions (such as "Navigating mental health conversations & performance" and "DEIBJ & Mental Health"), along with live, virtual, and on-demand options. See examples in our case studies with New Relic and DAT Solutions.

wellness dollars and end of year HR budget

Provide On-Demand Training To Employees and Managers

Organizations must intentionally integrate mental health into their culture and employee experience to create lasting culture change. On-demand learning is one way to integrate mental health into core business activities: employee onboarding, growth and development, and more. It makes key knowledge and skills around supporting workplace mental health a fundamental part of every employee’s and manager’s journey across all work environments.

At Mind Share Partners, we offer immediate access to comprehensive off-the-shelf courses to upskill employees and managers through licensing and bulk purchases. Connect with us for bulk pricing.

We also offer a custom, virtual learning experience with a tailored curriculum that addresses the core needs of your people and can be integrated into your existing LMS. Get our best practices for implementing on-demand learning for workplace mental health.

Pair On-Demand Training With A Live Scenario Session

On-demand training equips you with the fundamentals. Pairing it with a live scenario session helps people translate principles into practice. They can ask questions, work through case studies contextual to their jobs, source perspectives and ideas from fellow colleagues, and align collectively around applying said principles to their workplace. These sessions also fit well within the budget of most carrier wellness funds.

Mind Share Partners’ live scenario sessions do precisely this. We’ve worked with organizations like Houzz—see our case study—to develop scenarios and cases specific to their company and culture. Their managers also had a chance to practice these skills in a live, 60-minute session.

Create An Immersive Experience For ERGs To Talk About Mental Health

Employee resource groups (“ERGs” or affinity groups) promote diversity and inclusion, serve as vehicles for awareness and education, and offer communities of support. Investing in immersive experiences, live conversations, and dedicated training for these groups adds to their success, longevity, and ROI to the broader organization, all while empowering and upskilling their members.

At Mind Share Partners, we offer interactive live sessions for women, LGBTQ+, Asian and Pacific Islander, and similar ERGs where members can share their experiences and perspectives around mental health for their community. We also train members, executive sponsors, and mental health ERGs committee leaders to build foundational knowledge and awareness, clarify ERG members' roles and responsibilities in supporting colleagues, and identify strategies to normalize mental health conversations at work.

Read our case study with Canadian Tire Corporation to see how this could look at your workplace.


About the Author

Nina Tomaro, Marketing and Communications Lead, Mind Share Partners

As Mind Share Partners' Marketing and Communications lead, Nina develops and drives the organization's content marketing strategy. As one of the organization's early team members, Nina has a deep breadth of knowledge about workplace mental health and drives the creation of Mind Share Partners resources to support organizations in creating mentally healthy workplace cultures.

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