Employee Assistance Programs

EAPs have their roots in the late 1930s, initially based on programs that dealt with occupational alcoholism. Back then, drinking on the job was the norm, until people began to notice that it adversely impacted job performance, especially in industrial jobs! Since then, there has been a whole evolution of what EAPs do, who they help and how.

Witnessing a rise in productivity through the rehabilitation of workers, different groups like the Kemper Group and the National Council on Alcoholism, started getting involved and expanding the programs to address workers’ and their families’ marital, emotional, financial, legal and drug abuse problems.

In the 1980s, during the economic crisis, there was a cutback in programs creating a shift, and calling into question the value of these programs. Training for the specialists providing the services was diminishing due to lack of resources allocated to them, which was impacting the quality of the programs.

In the post-September 11 era, the pendulum has again, swung toward the direction of these programs, providing support in our current climate of technology and hacking, terrorist attacks, natural disasters and workplace violence.

At Meritage Medical Network, we have an EAP through ComPsych where employees have access to GuidanceResources 24/7. Typical services offered through the GuidanceResources program include confidential counseling for employees and their dependents to help support them with anything from marital to family problems, stress, anxiety, depression or substance abuse.

Work-life solutions are provided by specialists who research and recommend qualified referrals and resources from child and elder care, moving, pet care, college planning, home repair, selling a house, buying a car and more.

Legal support is available so that employees always have access to an attorney on call to discuss anything from divorce, custody, real estate, debt, bankruptcy, tenant or landlord issues, civil and criminal actions, or other legal issues and if representation is needed, they’ll be referred to a qualified attorney for a free 30 minute consultation and will be given a 25 percent reduction in customary legal fees thereafter.

For those that have financial questions, GuidanceResources answers questions about budgeting, debt management, tax issues and other money-based concerns with on-staff CPAs and financial planning experts.

Ultimately, having an EAP at your company gives employees a wide net of resources they can call upon for support in many different areas of their lives. In honor of Mental Health Awareness month, we wanted to highlight that providing an EAP for your team can help them focus on their mental health needs and not just when a crisis arises.

Our Behavioral Health Care Manager on site, shared this list of mental health terms to help give an overview in defining some of these sometimes confusing and often overlapping terms.

Mental health – defines the state of a healthy mind or lack thereof

Behavioral Health – pertains to our actions impacted by our mental health

Therapist: there are many kinds, physical, occupational etc. in the psychological perspective a therapist is a blanket term for psychotherapist which could be a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Licensed Clinical Social Worker, PhD or PsyD psychologist or psychiatrist. Let’s break them down:

Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists and Licensed Clinical Social Workers: most psychotherapists specialize in 1:1 therapy in private practice, programs can also be found in hospitals, family agencies, and day treatment programs, although most psychiatrists focus on medication management.

Psychologists: work in hospitals, private practice, day treatment programs, can work with more serious disorders, can perform psychological testing, and teach at university level.

Psychiatrist:  a medical doctor (MD) that typically focuses on prescribing psychiatric medications for mental health patients, often in coordination with their therapist. Day Treatment: two types: general mental health and those that specialize in substance abuse:

  • PHP: Partial Hospitalization Program – 6 hours daily 5 days per week, typically for those with serious mental health challenges, sometimes the next step down after inpatient hospitalization
  • IOP: Intensive Outpatient Program-  a step down from PHP, half days, 3 days weekly

Private Practice 1:1 Therapy – a step down from IOP, often the starting point for most people dealing with mental health issues typically 50 minutes, once or twice weekly.

Coach/Life Coach/Business Coach: they sometimes consider themselves therapists but be aware that they are unlicensed and unregulated.

Supporting and better understanding our mental health can be just as critical as good nutrition and physical exercise. We often don’t take into account how we can best take care of our mental health until we’re faced with a crisis, at which point it is often more difficult to address.

No matter where you are in your mental health journey, May is the month we increase our awareness regarding this topic. The more awareness we have about mental health, its subtleties and its intricacies, the more adept we become in understanding each other and ourselves.

Translate »