We all face challenges in our work and personal lives, and sometimes those challenges—from a big life issue to a series of small changes—can reach a level where we need professional guidance. But mental health concerns can be hard to identify and even harder to talk about, which is why Amazon recently launched Resources for Living.
The new mental health benefit is now available for free to all 950,000 U.S. employees, their families, and their households as part of Amazon's comprehensive benefits package. The program offers a variety of mental health services and support, including one-on-one counseling and crisis support, any time of day—from one centralized resource.
"Access to mental health care has become increasingly important to our employees as we all continue to navigate different everyday challenges," said Beth Galetti, Amazon senior vice president of People eXperience and Technology. "Providing access to—and awareness around—mental health care is a critical responsibility for employers. This new offering will help us remove barriers and unnecessary stigma around getting help, to ensure our employees and their families feel safe and supported during this pandemic and beyond."
Removing common barriers to getting help
For employee Tia Russell, having a single point of contact for mental health support offers reassurance that she and her children can get help when they need it. "It's very comforting to know that all I have to do is literally take one step, and I will have someone who is more than happy to help," said Russell, an employee at a fulfillment center in Channahon, Illinois. "It's also huge to know that I can give my son a phone number, an app he can download, and a website where he can access help on his own, without his mom looking over his shoulder."
Lindsey Hoeft is a program manager of Amazon's WorkingWell team, a new team that supports employees' personal well-being at work and at home. She believes the streamlined process of Resources for Living will also make it easier to support her team. "Specifically in 2020, there were several times when I wanted to provide resources to other members of my team and it was sometimes difficult to know where to find the correct information," she said. "Having one place to go, either for myself, my family, or members of my team in the future is much welcomed."
Equally important to having a clear place to start is having access to a variety of mental health care options. Resources for Living is designed with an understanding that effective support will look different for each person. When an employee or their loved one calls in for support, the care partner will assess their specific needs and offer tailored recommendations from a comprehensive list of options.
The care partner will help individuals find and connect with resources and services that will most benefit them based on their preferences and needs. This includes determining whether a person would benefit most from traditional one-on-one counseling, or from a resilience-building, self-paced app, or from daily life support such as help arranging yard care or help with finances.
"There is no one-size-fits-all solution with mental health," said John Alaimo, Operations Manager for Amazon Logistics. "There is a balance of physical and mental factors that come into play alongside the challenges life throws at us. Having solutions for specific issues or a combination of them will be a game changer in aligning individuals to have work-life balance and a happy state of well-being."
The program includes virtual therapy, a form of therapy that allows individuals to meet with trained therapists anytime and anywhere through video sessions, text messages, and audio calls. Employees and their families can each access up to three free one-on-one counseling sessions—either virtual or in-person—for each topic.
"I definitely plan on using virtual therapy," said Leila Brown, who supports Hoeft's team as a program manager for WorkingWell at Amazon. "Especially for my daughter, too. We live so far away from the city, it's hard to take off work or school for us to go to counseling. Now that I have this resource to help me navigate parenting at my fingertips, I will use it all the time. I'm hopeful my daughter and I can even use it together to grow our relationship."
Another resource that allows Brown to access care on her own terms is free access to myStrength, an app with interactive activities and courses that guide individuals through self-paced, evidence-based treatment for anxiety, stress, depression, substance use, sleep troubles, and more.
"I love myStrength," Brown said. "I like that it asks me how I'm feeling every day, and you can customize it to your needs. The activities are short and informative, and I always feel better after participating. I especially love the inspiration section. I like to send them to my daughter every morning while she's on her way to school. I've noticed such a positive change in her behavior when she comes home every day."
All resources in the new program are accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week, including access to care partners, self-assessments, stress tools, myStrength, crisis support, and more.
Increasing awareness and accessibility through the pandemic and beyond
Increasing awareness, access, and options for mental health care is more important now than ever before. About 40% of adults in the U.S. reported struggling with their mental health or substance abuse in June 2020, a significant increase compared to the same time period in 2019, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Amazon is committed to providing employees and their families access to the resources and care they need.
"It feels good to work for a company that cares so deeply about the needs of its employees," said Jessica Messersmith, program manager on the Workplace Health and Safety team. "Amazon is running some really neat health initiatives for the well-being of their employees and their family members. Knowing that not only I, but also those I'm surrounded by in my household, can access this resource is huge."
The health and safety of our employees is our number-one priority and has been since day one. We work closely with health and safety experts and scientists, conduct thousands of safety inspections each day in our buildings, and have made hundreds of changes as a result of employee feedback on how we can improve their well-being at work, like providing dedicated resources for the mental health and well-being of our employees.