SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — May is Mental Health Awareness Month. As many people and organizations work to break down the stigma behind mental health care, more KELOLAND employers are investing in mental health coverage for their workers, and encouraging them to use it.  

“We started our team member wellness initiative over 10 years ago and we try to take a holistic approach to that and mental health is definitely a part of that,” Gage Brothers VP of Human Resources Cassie Nicolai said. 

Gage Brothers has been in Sioux Falls for more than 100 years, but recently they’ve added programs like bring your pet to work and bringing in Well 365’s mental health coaching.

“Whether it’s how to address mental health in their families, addressing mental health in the workplace, what is loneliness and how do I cope with that. Different workshops to help build those skills within themselves so they can have a better life,” Well 365 Mental Health Coach and certified counselor Anna Woodford said. 

Along with monthly group trainings and support groups, Gage Brothers Well 365 plan also offers five one on one counseling sessions for not only employees but also their entire family.

“The old philosophy so to speak of personal issues stay at home, don’t bring them to work, keep them separated, is not really realistic and team members want to feel supported and come to work and be their best selves,” Nicolai said. 

“Mental health has always been a part of wellbeing, but because of the past couple of years with the pandemic, more and more employers are recognizing that it is a part of that wellness space and people are struggling,” Well 365 founder Trisha Dohn said. “One in five individuals are struggling with mental health; of those individuals, only half are really seeking support or treatment.”

Dohn has two full-time mental health coaches who offer individual counseling sessions at their office,  digitally or meeting people at the workplace.

“We can bring it on sight here as a convenience for them so they don’t have to take time out of work to do that,” Nicolai said. 

It’s one more way to take away the barriers that might prevent someone from seeking help…

“Who do I look for, who do I find, where do I go?” Dohn said. “Those kinds of things can prevent someone from seeking care.”

Convenience that helps employees feel empowered to take advantage of mental health care.

“When you have it accessible in the workplace, it breaks down those barriers so we know, it’s not a weakness, it’s just something I need to address so I can get stronger, so I know I’m taking care of myself,” Woodford said. 

Well 365 is a wellness company that works with many employers around KELOLAND; Dohn says the majority of her business clients are now offering mental health coaching as part of their wellness coverage, including group classes, support groups and one-on-one counseling for their employees.