Vail Resorts expands Epic Wellness program
The expanded program increases mental health resources for employees, their roommates and their dependents
Vail Resorts expanded mental health resources for employees this month, building on the free therapy sessions offered through the company’s Epic Wellness program to cover a broader spectrum of physical and mental health needs.
Epic Wellness launched in 2018, creating a centralized place for employees to access six free counseling sessions from the employee assistance program as well as a variety of health screening and pain remediation resources.
Dr. Corey Levy, the wellness director at Vail Resorts, said that before Epic Wellness, utilization of company-sponsored wellness programs was less than 1%. Today, around 9% of employees take advantage of these mental health resources each year, and that is a number he expects to continue to grow.
Vail Resorts is funding the expansion using part of its recent $175 million investment in employee support and resources. The investment followed a 2021-22 season that was marred with complaints about employee compensation and treatment, and Vail Resorts CEO Kirstin Lynch described the investment as indicative of the company’s new direction.
“We cannot create an ‘Experience of a Lifetime’ for our guests without first creating an ‘Experience of a Lifetime’ for you,” Lynch wrote in a letter to employees announcing the Epic Wellness expansion.
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The new and improved Epic Wellness program, which launched on Aug. 1, includes an expansion of the program’s clinical network, new virtual and more personalized therapy options, and a free mindfulness application. It also includes free wellness coaching, which is a virtual resource that provides guidance around personal wellness goals, including fitness, nutrition, stress, injury recovery, relationships, and more.
Levy said that embracing a more holistic approach to wellness will give employees the tools they need to be proactive, not reactive, about caring for their mental health.
“The impetus was really that: How can we look to push out the spectrum of care that we provide to people so we can meet them where they’re at,” Levy said. “Some folks might just need some support around improving their sleep, or drinking more water, or helping them manage life issues around having a family. We’re also recognizing that chat and text-based therapy could be really beneficial for people who might not want to have traditional support.”
All of these resources are also available to the roommates and dependents of the employee, which is part of the community psychology model that Levy champions.
“If a family member is managing some mental health stuff or struggling in some way, or a roommate — and we know a lot of people live with a lot of roommates — that’s going to affect the employee as well, so we want to make those resources available to as many people as we can with the intention of trying to help out the community as much as possible,” Levy said.
Virtual counseling became mainstream during the pandemic, and the quality and quantity of digital resources is better than ever before. The Epic Wellness program now offers multiple avenues for counseling, including a preferred provider program that connects employees directly to local counselors — if they prefer in-person visits — and a wide breadth of digital counselors to increase accessibility and diversity of providers.
This also enables employees to get more granular in terms of their counseling needs, seeking providers who specialize in certain disciplines such as LGBTQ issues, post-traumatic stress for first responders, or family counseling, among others.
Nadia Guerriero is the vice president and chief operations officer of Beaver Creek Resort. She has just completed her first three-year term as a board member at Eagle Valley Behavioral Health and is starting on her second term this year.
Having seen the need among her employees, and knowing the growing number of resources available in the valley, she said that she joined the board to help break down the stigma and barriers to accessibility and make sure that everyone who needs support knows where to find it. Expanding the Epic Wellness program and the communication around it will enable local organizations to have a greater impact.
“I raised my hand because it’s something I care about,” Guerriero said. “You’d be surprised how many folks have no idea what’s going on out there and what the efforts are. My vision is to make sure that I’m doing everything I can so that our team and our people, even our stakeholders and our homeowners and our club members, that they all know what is available, what the work is, and how they can participate.”
Mental Health Colorado recognized Vail Resorts with the Workplace Wellness Award in 2019 after the implementation of the Epic Wellness program, and Levy said that the program will continue to grow in upcoming years. He said that the ultimate goal is for employees to support each other, to connect one another with resources when they need help, and to normalize the use of Epic Wellness resources so that everyone can access the level of support that they need.
“We want to empower people to realize that they can be a primary and significant resource for someone that they love,” Levy said. “The more we can empower that and create what I would call ‘wellness environments’ through the resorts, the better it’s going to be for the community, the better it’s going to be for the employee and the individual, and the better it’s going to be for the resort.”