The Co-operators increases mental health benefits for its employees

By The IJ Staff | January 31 2018 09:45AM

Photo: Freepik

The Co-operators announced Jan. 31 that it has increased coverage for its employees to $5,000 per year per family member and expanded the number of eligible practitioners beyond psychologists and social workers to include family therapists, clinical counsellors and psychotherapists. 

"The facts are compelling," explains Rob Wesseling, president and CEO, The Co-operators. "We know that one in five Canadians will experience a psychological health problem or illness in any given year, making mental health the number one cause of disability in Canada. As an employer and group benefits provider, we see first-hand the impact mental illness is having on Canadians. The resulting absenteeism, disability costs and loss of productivity impacts our economy by as much as $51 billion per year. Supporting mental health is the right thing to do and The Co-operators is committed to providing innovative access to customizable care, so that our employees have access to the care they need, where and when they need it as they cope with these health concerns."

Company-wide mental health initiative

Last year, The Co-operators began a company-wide mental health initiative focused on its employees, clients and the communities it serves. In addition to the increased mental health benefits, the company’s employees also have an enhanced bereavement policy that allows up to 20 days of paid time off following the loss of a spouse or child.

The Co-operators says it is also researching mental health solutions, including internet-delivered cognitive behavioural therapy (ICBT), mental health second opinion consultation services and it has has partnered with the University of Regina on a study to better understand mental health disclosure in the workplace.

Reducing stigma

"We have always supported health and wellness at The Co-operators, but our increased focus on mental health has helped reduce stigma and create a more open and safe workplace culture," explains Bernie Mitchell, SVP, human resources, The Co-operators. "Our goal is to ensure that employees feel comfortable talking about their mental health in the same way they would their physical wellbeing. We want the workplace to be the pathway to positive mental health."