HR Excellence: Ocean Spray's Susan French Tackles Mental Health Stigma

HR Excellence: Ocean Spray’s Susan French Tackles Mental Health Stigma

More than two years after the start of the pandemic, employees are still struggling to find their emotional balance.

For Susan French, head of global total compensation at Ocean Spray, an agricultural cooperative with 2,000 employees worldwide, standardizing mental health care has been her quest. The company implemented partnerships with Headspace and Talkspace and eliminated copays for mental health support. The team is currently engaged in an overhaul of its EAP program and has seen an increase in usage from 2% to 11%.

“It’s become more common in our claims that people are affected by mental health and don’t seek help,” French says. “We needed to find these barriers to care.”

Read more: HR managers are more exhausted than ever. Who supports them?

French explained how she and her team are fighting that stigma through benefits and how she takes care of herself.

How do you amplify your benefits to support employee mental health?
We’ve done away with our sanity co-payments – even though it’s $25, it can add up if someone goes once a week. We’re also replacing our current EAP with a vendor that really focuses on access, both remote and on-premises.

What was a win for you in implementing these benefits?
We’ve added other benefits around fertility, LGBTQ, caregiver needs, as these also have mental health implications.

As a leader, how do you make sure your oxygen mask is on first?
I am deliberately open about my therapy to make people feel comfortable. I also make time around the workday – one goal is to exercise – and I really like spending that time with my family and going to the beach or the pool. These are my happy places.

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