Understanding Employee Assistance Programs and Maximizing Their Benefits

Sep 26, 2023 | Adult Treatment, Depression, Mental Breakdown, Mental Health, Overwhelmed, Stress, Therapy

The corporate world is known for causing burnout and stress for many of its employees. This stereotype, while applicable to some, is further exacerbated by a perceived lack of support from employers. Unbeknownst to many, quite a few companies offer resources designed to help their employees thrive. 

One of these resources is known as an EAP, which is an Employee Assistance Program. These programs have emerged to support employees’ mental and emotional well-being. Unfortunately, because many people don’t know about this service, it is frequently not utilized. In fact, the utilization rate of EAPs is under 10%. 

In this blog, we delve into what EAPs are, their significance, and provide insights into how employees can make the most of these programs.

What is an Employee Assistance Program?

An Employee Assistance Program is a workplace benefit that is designed to provide employees and their loved ones with professional assistance to address a range of personal and work-related issues. EAPs are typically offered by employers as part of their comprehensive employee benefits package, and they aim to improve employees’ mental and physical health as well as their overall quality of life.

EAPs offer quite a few different services, including short-term counseling, assessment, referral, and consultation services. These programs are designed to address a range of challenges that employees might face, like stress, anxiety, depression, substance abuse, relationship issues, financial concerns, and more. EAPs are delivered by licensed professionals, including psychologists, social workers, counselors, and other trained specialists.

Who Qualifies for an EAP?

Qualification for an EAP usually depends on being an active employee of an organization that offers this benefit. The specific eligibility criteria and services offered vary from one employer to another, but most of the time, if your employer provides an EAP, you would likely be eligible to use its services if:

  • You are an Employee: You are currently employed by the organization that offers the EAP. This could include full-time, part-time, or even some contract employees, depending on the policies of the employer.
  • Dependents: Some EAPs might extend their services to immediate family members or dependents of the employee, but this can vary.
  • Where You Live: Some EAPs have geographic limitations, which means that they are only able to offer services only to employees that reside within a certain region or country.
  • Actively Working: You are more than likely going to be required to be an active employee, meaning you haven’t been terminated or left the organization.
  • Enrollment: Some EAPs might require employees to enroll in the program themselves or provide information to access its services. Others might automatically include all eligible employees. This depends on your organization’s own unique processes.
Why are EAPs Beneficial?

There are many reasons as to why EAPs are beneficial to both the employee and the company, including:

  • Workplace stress wreaks havoc on our minds and bodies. EAPs allow us to take care of ourselves and improve our well-being.
  • Having healthy employees is beneficial to the company because it can decrease absenteeism, improve coping skills, and increase overall productivity.
  • Employees are less inclined to call out sick when they are receiving the support they need.
How Does an EAP Work?

Before beginning the process of using your company’s EAP, it is helpful to get a lay of the land when it comes to how the program works.

  • Confidentiality: One of the most important features of EAPs is confidentiality. When employees get assistance through the program, their personal information and discussions are kept private and separate from their workplace records. This encourages employees to seek help without fear of judgment or repercussions. Employees suffering from substance abuse issues, for example, can comfortably seek help without feeling like their job may be at risk.
  • Access to Services: EAPs typically offer a variety of ways to access services, including phone consultations, in-person appointments, and online resources. Employees can choose the mode that best suits their needs and comfort level. This increased flexibility is important for those with families and other obligations that can easily become a reason to not seek help.
  • Assessment and Referral: Upon contacting the EAP, employees often undergo an assessment to determine the nature and severity of their concerns. Based on the assessment, the EAP counselor may provide immediate support, short-term counseling, or refer the employee to an external specialist or service.
  • Counseling: EAPs usually offer a limited number of counseling sessions to address immediate concerns. These sessions are designed to provide employees with tools and coping strategies to manage their challenges effectively. This is ideal for someone coping with a major life change, grief, or any other short-term challenge. 
  • Workshops and Other Resources: Many EAPs organize workshops, webinars, and provide online resources on topics like stress management, communication skills, time management, and more. These resources empower employees to enhance their personal and professional skills.
  • Making the Most of Your EAP
  • Raise Awareness: Employers play a crucial role in promoting EAPs and raising awareness about their availability and benefits. When introducing new employees to the company, ensure they are informed about the EAP as a valuable resource. Colleagues can do this as well.
  • Utilize the Services: If you’re facing challenges, don’t hesitate to reach out to your EAP to see what options are available. Whether it’s work-related stress, family issues, or personal concerns, EAPs are there to provide support and guidance.
  • Be Honest: When interacting with EAP providers, be open and honest about your concerns. The more information you provide, the better the support and advice you receive will be.
  • Follow Through: If your EAP counselor recommends further assistance or ongoing therapy, seriously consider following through with their suggestions. EAPs can provide initial support and guidance, but some challenges may require longer-term intervention.
  • Family Benefits: Remember that EAP benefits often extend to family members as well. If your loved ones are experiencing difficulties of their own, encourage them to utilize the EAP resources. 

Employee Assistance Programs are valuable assets that support employees in dealing with personal and work-related challenges. These programs offer much-needed relief that many employees would benefit greatly from. Understanding how your company’s EAP works can help you take full advantage of what it has to offer. We spend a great deal of time at our workplace and deserve to feel our best, both in the office and at home. Using your EAP to help take care of yourself is one of the best ways to improve your health all around.


New Dimensions Can Help!

New Dimensions has outpatient counseling programs for adolescents and adults who are struggling with mental health or substance abuse issues.  To learn more about our services, including psychological testing, Partial Hospitalization Programs (PHP), Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOP), and Interventions for substance abuse, contact us at 800-685-9796 or visit our website at www.nddtreatment.com.  To learn more about individual, family, and couples counseling visit www.mhthrive.com.