Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
FILE - CHG Healthcare services Employees Carrie Koncar, Anne Frantz, Sam Schwendiman, and James Boley line up for an interview as they finish off a 17 mile walk to work event at the their Headquarters in Midvale on Friday, April 21, 2017. This month, Utah-based CHG Healthcare made Fortune magazine’s 'Best Company to Work For' list for the ninth year in a row.

MIDVALE — This month, Utah-based CHG Healthcare made Fortune magazine’s “Best Company to Work For” list for the ninth year in a row.

While the distinction isn’t new for the company, a recently installed program to help its employees with their mental health has been one of the reasons the firm has been able to maintain its exceptional level of worker satisfaction.

For the past six years, the health care staffing company has offered its employees and family members access to a free on-site health clinic. Over time, the clinic’s providers learned that 3 out of 5 patients were visiting the clinic for issues related to mental health, so the company decided to add mental health counselors to its on-site facility, giving employees access to those services while in the office.

"(The providers) have been able to diagnose all kinds of things with our employees, (such as) post-traumatic stress disorder, adult ADHD, and what's great is it doesn't cost our employees any money," explained Nicole Thurman, vice president of talent management. "It's high quality (care). We vet (the providers) very, very well … and it's convenient. They can just leave their desk when they need to (without taking paid time off)."

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 1 in 6 U.S. adults lives with a mental illness, making it a growing concern — particularly in the workplace. Additionally, a report from the U.S. surgeon general indicated that the indirect price tag of untreated mental health disorders cost businesses $79 billion annually from lost productivity and absenteeism.

Thurman said providing the mental health clinic is less about the money and more about taking a holistic approach to providing for the overall health and well-being of employees.

"We believe in taking care of our people," she said. "It's a great benefit. And we save money in the process which funds it, so we can keep providing it."

She noted the mental health programs are breaking even at an approximate monthly cost of about $8,500.

"We estimate the amount we are spending is what we are saving when people go to our onsite clinic instead of going somewhere else," Thurman said. "The benefit to our people seems very positive and long-term impact will need to be assessed."

The clinic serves more than 1,300 CHG Healthcare employees in its Salt Lake City headquarters. The company also plans to roll out the service to 600 employees in its Fort Lauderdale, Florida, office later this year.

Maggie Franz, 31, and Divina Mauchley, 33, are among the CHG employees who have benefited from the new service.

Franz, who started with the company in October, said having access to mental health services has helped her manage her own health more effectively.

"I use therapists even more than (regular) doctors," she said. "But therapy can cost a lot of money, even if you're using insurance. (This program) is extremely helpful because depression and anxiety, which is what I treat for, can be more of a hindrance to my work performance than getting the flu or a cold.

"I really appreciate working somewhere that recognizes the value and importance of that," she said. Maintaining her mental health has helped her be even more productive than she might otherwise have been without such a useful program, she said.

"I'm making huge changes in my life that I've wanted to make for so long but wasn't able to," Franz said. "I have been liberated to be able to do them now."

For Mauchley, a married mother of two young children, the new service has helped her become more efficient in taking care of herself mentally and emotionally, along with her myriad parental duties.

"I rarely get time to focus on myself and my own mental health. I do suffer from mental illness myself," she said. "Having my company be able to recognize that mental health is a real issue and that by focusing on the whole employee, they are going to have better, more productive people (is great). They are saying that they care about me as a mom, as an employee and as a person."

Comment on this story

She said having mental health services in the workplace was "definitely a game-changer."

"If I can just make an appointment, run downstairs (to the clinic), deal with what I need to for myself, then I'm able to be a better mom, a better wife and a better employee," Mauchley said. "Being able to talk with somebody about the depression and the anxiety … there is something so beneficial about being able to talk to somebody who is a licensed professional, who is an objective third-party person who is empathetic to what you're going through."