Well-Being, Mental Health

A new strategy to ease the cost burden of FMLA and mental health care

Let’s talk about the federal Family and Medical Leave Act, better known as FMLA.

FMLA has been law for more than 30 years. It allows eligible employees of covered employers to take up to 12 weeks of leave during a 12-month period for specified family and medical reasons. Individuals can use FMLA to care for themselves or their loved ones and rest easy knowing that their jobs will be waiting for them when they return.

Most people think about FMLA in relation to parental leave or managing a serious medical condition. They don’t realize FMLA is one of the oldest mental health benefits in the United States and that individuals can use FMLA to assist with needs related to mental health and well-being.

Are you unable to work because of severe anxiety? You can use FMLA for that.

Need treatment for an eating or substance use disorder? You can use FMLA for that, too.

Are you caring for a loved one with a severe mental health condition? FMLA has your back.

In our modern world, in which mental health and well-being are an increasing area of focus for corporations large and small, FMLA is an asset. However, like many such programs, it isn’t perfect. In many states, FMLA is not a paid benefit, meaning individuals who take it must forego their salaries for the duration of their leave. For our most vulnerable populations, this is simply not an option. Two-thirds of workers who did not take needed family and medical leave reported that their decision was based on the fact that they could not afford to go unpaid.

E4E Relief recognized the disconnect between the mental health needs of employees and the resources currently available and decided to create a solution: our new Mental Health & Well-being program.

Part of creating this program involved recognizing the key barrier keeping individuals from receiving the mental health care they need: cost. Visiting a therapist comes at a cost. Enrolling in an inpatient treatment program comes at a cost. Taking time through FMLA to care for yourself or a loved one comes at a cost. While the programs that support individuals in need are incredibly valuable, the market needed a way to financially bridge for individuals the unexpected and sizable expenses associated with care and treatment. Well, that’s what we can do.

If you are an HR leader like me, you understand the many challenges the members of the workforce face and are always searching for solutions that create a well and thriving workplace. If you haven’t yet investigated workforce financial relief solutions, let me share a little bit about ours. E4E Relief’s tech-enabled solution allows companies to deliver relief grants to employees, contractors, franchisees, and any other stakeholders who are material to the success of the enterprise during times of disaster or hardship. When an individual experiences a crisis, they can apply to their company for a grant. If their application is approved, funds are distributed directly to the individual to help cover the unplanned costs, which contributes positively to their financial and emotional well-being.

When it comes to mental health, relief grants are particularly important, given that 42% of adults with a mental illness said their treatment needs are not being met because they simply cannot afford it. Even with insurance, cost can limit access to care: The average deductible for an employer-sponsored plan in 2021 was $1,434, and yet 57% of Americans are unable to afford an unexpected $1,000 expense. That forces many individuals faced with urgent behavioral health needs to forego care or accrue medical debt to get help.

A relief grant can help cover the costs associated with mental health care, whether individuals continue to work, or they decide to take advantage of FMLA. It’s a financial lifeline during a challenging time, and for many individuals, it makes it possible to get the care they need.

As an HR leader, I am a firm believer in the importance of wellness in the workplace, and I champion putting mental health and well-being at the forefront of conversations related to the success and sustainability of a business. When you focus on your people, you protect and preserve your company’s most vital resource, your people. And in the end, everyone wins.

This article was originally published on LinkedIn. To read the original article, click here.

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