An illustration of happy people chatting at work

In a move toward prioritizing mental health at work, Amazon now offers its employees an array of mental health benefits. Through these programs, the e-commerce giant hopes to remove the stigma surrounding mental health and cultivate a work culture that promotes openness, support, and well-being.

This starts with Amazon’s comprehensive mental health coverage. 

According to benefits representative Lian Neeman, Amazon's mental health benefits extend to hourly employees and their families, ensuring that all employees, regardless of role, have access to the same resources. Amazon's scheduling app, used by over 95% of its hourly workforce, provides direct access to mental health resources, reinforcing the company's commitment to making these benefits easily discoverable and user-friendly.

“One in four adults will experience a mental health issue during their lifetime. This is a global issue. And the degree to which we as an employer can support employees who are seeking help just to navigate day-to-day situations and those difficult moments is important,” said Neeman. 

Amazon’s strategy, said Neeman “is really supporting the whole employee.” The holistic approach extends to an employee’s home as well. “Whether it's you or a family member or somebody you work with,” said Neeman. “The best thing you can do if somebody has a need is connect them with these resources.” 

Insights from Amazon's Mental Health and Wellbeing Affinity Group leaders shed light on the company's commitment to supporting mental health. The company collaborates with affinity groups and external partners to ensure that its offerings are relevant and accessible to employees from diverse backgrounds, cultures, and experiences. By soliciting feedback and involving employees in pilot programs, Amazon strives to tailor its mental health resources to the unique needs of its workforce.

“What began as a small subgroup under the People with Disabilities Affinity Group has now burgeoned into a global network spanning over 100 chapters worldwide,” said affinity group leader Bettina Thompson. “This network ensures that Amazonians across the globe can access mental health resources tailored to their unique backgrounds and circumstances.”

Navigating the pandemic and beyond

When the COVID-19 pandemic reshaped work dynamics globally, Amazon responded with a blend of virtual and in-person support. While virtual interactions have proven valuable, Amazon acknowledges the importance of in-person connections and is working to ensure seamless transitions between virtual and in-person mental health support. “Going through the pandemic and up until now, the future is hybrid... making sure we have robust in-person networks of providers... focusing on... connecting them with care, continuing past maybe an initial virtual connection for people who need it and want those in-person services."

Amazon's approach to mental health encompasses a broad range of options extending beyond conventional therapy, such as technology-driven services like  the Twill Therapeutics app.

These initiatives have made a difference for hourly employees like Jacob Misavage, who found a variety of ways to connect to psychological supports, from immediate therapy to connecting with licensed therapists through virtual and in-person sessions. “There's been times where, for example, I couldn’t get in touch with my day-to-day therapist and in crisis where I was [experiencing] harassment and suicidal feelings, and was able to access something immediate through Amazon,” said Misavage, who found Amazon’s offerings to be invaluable tools during times of adversity. That immediacy is key, said Neeman, because it means a counselor “can just talk you through… here's what this means, here's how you can think about it, here are resources to follow up on. It's just so meaningful. I think if we didn't have this resource in place [people would] go home, stew about things and have sadness and frustration carry out in the workplace environment.”

Jacob Misavage smiles behind safety glasses

Jacob Misavage, an hourly employee at Amazon, says the company’s mental health benefits were invaluable to him during times of adversity.

Fostering a culture of acceptance

Amazon's mental health initiatives have catalyzed a major shift in the workplace culture. By integrating elements such as educational videos, flexible scheduling and leaves of absence when needed, Amazon is dismantling the longstanding barriers that have hindered conversations around mental health and showing up authentically in the workplace.

Witnessing the transformation, Misavage and his colleagues have noted the emergence of a new culture where mental health discussions flow openly. 

“Amazon…fosters an environment where people can ask for help and not be shamed or stigmatized about mental health,” said Misavage, who noted that employees were encouraged to request scheduling adjustments or leaves of absence if needed, to seek needed medical treatment, and to make lifestyle and ergonomic adjustments to stay healthy.

Paving the way for a brighter future

Amazon's commitment to enhancing mental health support remains steadfast as the company continues to innovate. Leaders within Amazon's Mental Health and Wellbeing Affinity Group express enthusiasm about forthcoming innovations, including rapid assistance for associates in need of immediate support. 

In a world where recognition of mental health challenges is on the rise, Amazon's efforts are not just transforming corporate responsibility; they are setting a precedent for fostering a healthier, more empathetic, and more resilient workforce.

“We're really seeing a shift in terms of engagement with our employees,” said Neeman. “It's not just about benefits. It's about [creating] those communities that people can engage with.”