Your mental health matters: making the most of the support from your workplace

A black man with short cut hair, a beard and goatee seated on a couch and speaking with a Black woman doctor writing on a clipboard.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, reminding us of the critical need to prioritize mental well-being – especially in the workplace where many spend a significant portion of their time. Did you know that more than 1 in 5 adults in America live with a mental illness? Mental health issues can affect job performance, relationships and overall well-being. Understanding your rights and support systems can make a world of difference. 

Here are three actions you can take to get the mental health care you deserve through your job-based health plan: 

  1. Use your benefits: You have rights under the law when accessing mental health and substance use disorder benefits through your job-based health plan. Mental health parity laws require that most health plans not apply stricter restrictions to accessing mental health benefits than they do for physical health benefits. You should not face greater barriers to get mental health or substance use disorder treatment than if seeking medical or surgical treatment. For more information, read our publication “Understanding Your Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Benefits.”
  2. Don’t take no for an answer: If your mental health claim has been denied by your health plan, you have the right to appeal the decision. Review why your claim was denied and gather any necessary medical records and other information to support your case. Your HR department or benefits administrator can guide you through the appeals process. You also can look at our publication “Filing a Claim for Your Benefits” for steps to help navigate this process. 
  3. Contact the Department for help:  Know that support for your mental health journey is available – you don't have to go through it alone. One source of support is found by contacting a benefits advisor with the Department’s Employee Benefits Security Administration at or by calling 1-866-444-3272 for assistance with any questions or problems you encounter when trying to use the mental health and substance use disorder benefits under your job-based health plan. The benefits advisors can help you understand your rights, your health plan and its appeal process. 

Mental health is fundamental to our well-being and deserves the same attention as physical health. Learn about your mental health parity rights and access key resources to support your journey, including empowering you to act for your mental health needs at work. 

Lisa M. Gomez is the assistant secretary of the Employee Benefits Security Administration