Growing number of college students want future employers to include mental health benefits

Posted at 2:01 PM, Nov 16, 2020

Mental health has become a priority for many people across the country during the pandemic. For college students, it's no different, and many are hoping employers put mental health as a priority when they graduate.

"As they stress about whether or not they’re going to find internships, whether or not they're going to find employment after they graduate, as they think about their own families, as they think about their health or the health of their loved ones. Everything is just compounding and we wanted to get a better sense of whether students were actively thinking about mental health," said Christine Cruzvergara, the VP of Higher Education and Student Success at Handshake, which connects college students with employers.

Cruzvergara says realizing these struggles, Handshake surveyed more than 1,000 college students about their mental health.

"Over 62% of our students want employers to think about mental health benefits as actually part of the compensation plan and I think that’s a huge shift. We didn’t see students talking about mental health as a benefit previous to COVID," said Cruzvergara.

Roughly half of students surveyed said they were concerned about their own mental health with so many people working remotely, adding they were concerned about feeling isolated and about their work-life balance.

"We've shared this with our employers as we continue conversations with them about how they're going to adapt their training, their onboarding, their compensation," said Cruzvergara.

More businesses are also thinking about mental health services for their employees, according to Gympass, a service used by employers to offer benefits like fitness and nutrition programs. Gympass surveyed its own members and found 69% have experienced burnout during the pandemic.

"We know 95% of people are just aware that wellness in general is more important to their productivity and as employers have become more aware of that we’re seeing the shift to mental wellness awareness, in particular, and we’ve been able to embrace this from a live classes perspective moving into digitals where yoga, people can take their meditation classes online," said Gympass CEO Marshall Porter.

Porter says while most employees and employers realize mental wellness is important when it comes to productivity at work, just 34% of employers are actually offering those types of benefits.

"And so how do we think about and talk about meeting the customer, the employee, where they are. Everybody’s aware, everybody wants that benefit. Too few employers are still thinking about that and so opening that conversation of how are you really doing, what can we do to provide that. Maybe it isn’t that traditional 401k or new stipend to work from home and make your home office more comfortable," said Porter.

Realizing the major impact companies can have on their own employees' mental health.