Therapy at Work: The HR Case for In-House Therapists

There is a mental health crisis in America. Are Company Therapists the solution?

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In this issue:

  • CHART: Average Monthly Salary Around the World

  • Therapy at Work: The HR Case for In-House Therapists

  • The Rise in Side Hustlin’ for IVF Benefits

  • IBM CEO Backtracks on AI replacing jobs

  • Are robots replacing migrant workers?

  • COMIC: Compensation and Benefits

  • The Week in Recruiting

CHART: Average Monthly Salary Around the World

Source: @stats_feed

Therapy at Work: The HR Case for In-House Therapists?

America is on the verge of a mental health crisis. It’s been mentioned on the news several times. For example…

I dug up a few more troubling stats that further validate this.

  • High prevalence of mental illness: In 2019-2020, 20.78% of adults in the US were experiencing a mental illness, which is equivalent to over 50 million Americans. In 2021, 22.8% of US adults experienced mental illness, and 5.5% experienced serious mental illness.

  • Rising suicide rates: Suicide rates have risen by about 30% since 2000.

  • Increasing symptoms of depression and anxiety: Almost a third of US adults now report symptoms of either depression or anxiety, roughly three times as many as in 2019.

Yikes! This is not a good thing for society overall. It is even worse for the American workplace. Let me count the ways.

  • Negative impact on individuals: Poor mental health can lead to a range of issues for individuals, including depression, anxiety, and burnout. This can result in decreased job performance, reduced productivity, and difficulties in maintaining relationships with colleagues.

  • Increased healthcare costs: Mental health issues are associated with higher rates of disability and unemployment, which can lead to increased healthcare costs for both businesses and employees.  

  • Higher turnover rates: Employees experiencing poor mental health may be more likely to leave their jobs, leading to higher turnover rates for organizations. This can result in additional costs for recruiting and training new employees.

  • Negative impact on organizational culture: A mental health epidemic can create a negative and unsupportive work environment, which can in turn lead to decreased employee morale and engagement. This can have a ripple effect on the overall organizational culture and performance.

One possible solution is an easy one, hire a company therapist. I can imagine a psychologist on duty being very beneficial.

  • Enhanced employee mental health: Corporate therapists provide a safe and confidential space for employees to address and manage their mental health concerns, ultimately improving their well-being and engagement at work.

  • Eased access to therapy: Onsite therapy can ease barriers and transaction costs to seeing a therapist, making it more convenient for employees to seek support without disrupting their day. This can be especially beneficial for employees with busy schedules or those who may not feel comfortable seeking personal support outside of work.

  • Better company culture and employee satisfaction: Business psychologists can help evaluate an organization's goals, strategies, and culture to assess areas for improvement. They use the science of human psychology to analyze various issues within a company or other workplace and help design and implement the most effective solutions. This can lead to a more supportive and inclusive environment where employees feel more satisfied and motivated.

What would the day in the life of a company therapist be like? Based on a bit of research, these are the core services they would offer.

  • Onsite therapy and counseling: Onsite therapists can offer individual and group therapy sessions to employees, addressing a range of mental health concerns such as stress, anxiety, and work-related issues.

  • Workplace consulting and coaching: Psychologists can work with companies to address leadership issues, improve team dynamics, and enhance overall organizational performance. They may provide executive coaching, team-building workshops, or conflict resolution services to help employees and teams work more effectively together.

  • Stress management and resilience training: Psychologists can develop and deliver training programs to help employees better manage stress and build resilience. These programs may include techniques such as mindfulness, relaxation exercises, and cognitive-behavioral strategies to help employees cope with work-related challenges.

If this sounds too… I don’t know… crazy to you, then you are missing out on a trend. Check out this quote from Fortune magazine.

When AT&T opened its health and wellness clinic, complete with an on-site psychologist, in February 2020, the Texas-based company had no idea just how in-demand mental and emotional health support would become. After three or so years of pandemic-driven isolation that dramatically worsened mental well-being and altered people’s relationship with work, AT&T’s in-house therapist is busier than ever.

Connie Siciliano Avila is the lone clinical resource for employees within AT&T’s downtown Dallas headquarters. Each month, roughly 1,000 employees grace her office seeking help to deal with stress in and out of the workplace, depression, anxiety, and trauma. You name it, she’s likely addressed it.

Further into the article it reads…

Though in-house therapists are not a common workplace practice, says SHRM advisor John Dooney, 77% of workers believe that companies have a responsibility to support mental health at work. More companies seem up for that challenge, and Dooney says there’s been greater corporate interest in caring for workers’ mental well-being. Other companies that offer therapists on campus include Google, Delta Air Lines, and JPMorgan Chase.

As companies look for new ways to attract higher office attendance, an in-house therapist could be an incentive. These programs, says Katherine Morgan Schafler—a former on-site therapist at Google—show employees how committed a company is to caring about their mental well-being.

  • EY (formerly Ernst & Young): EY provides a range of mental health resources for its employees, including access to therapists and counseling services. The company's Healthy Minds program aims to support employees in managing their mental well-being and seeking help when needed.

  • American Express: American Express has a long-standing employee assistance program and has hired a clinical psychologist to run the program and continuously improve its services. The company also provides part-time counselors at each employee clinic.

  • Barclays: Barclays has launched various initiatives to support mental health in the workplace, including offering access to therapists and counseling services. The company has also made external commitments to normalize mental health and break the culture of silence around it.

As wonderful as this option is for dealing with the mental health crisis, I would strongly suggest that companies do their due diligence when choosing a healthcare provider. For obvious reasons, partnering with the wrong vendor can do extreme damage to your employer brand. Here are three examples of what I mean.

  • Headspace Health Layoffs: In July 2023, Santa Monica-based mental healthcare company Headspace Health laid off 181 employees, including therapists, without warning. This raised concerns about the impact on patients who had been receiving therapy through the platform.

  • Lyra Health Controversy: Lyra Health, a company that provides therapy for Google and Facebook employees, faced concerns over privacy and treatment. Some users, therapists, and former employees voiced concerns about the company's business practices, including its productivity-based bonus structure for therapists and its use of patient data.

  • BetterHelp Scrutiny: BetterHelp, an online therapy provider, has faced scrutiny for its business practices. The company was accused by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) of pushing people to hand over sensitive health information and breaking its privacy promises.  

The stats and stories I’ve highlighted showcase the need for mental health wellness programs in general and a company therapist in particular. While there are benefits to having therapists available in the workplace, companies and employees should be aware of the potential pitfalls and ensure that the services provided are of high quality and ethical.

I’m curious as to how prevalent these programs are among my readers. Does your employer offer mental health wellness programs? Please take the survey below.

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The Jim Stroud Show

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The Rise in Side Hustlin’ for IVF Benefits

In this episode, Jim Stroud chats with Shelly MacConnell – Chief Strategy Officer at WinFertility about the rise of side hustles in order to receive fertility treatment coverage, as well as:

  • Why working for fertility benefits rather than a paycheck has grown in popularity

  • How the increase in side hustles shows that there is still a lack of accessibility to fertility care as many women cannot receive benefits at their primary jobs

  • How the movement of people working for fertility support can be beneficial for businesses

  • What people should know before taking on a side job to receive fertility benefits and what should they ensure is included in the benefits package

  • And more…

Comic: Why should I hire you?

One more thing...

Public speaking in Hungary on the future of work.

I speak on the future of work. Book me now for your HR conference or corporate event. Click here for more information or, reply to this email and let’s have a conversation.

Jim Stroud