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Employee Assistance Program EAP

How Your EAP Can Help Employees Cope with COVID-19

Wouldn’t it be nice if COVID-19 was the only thing you had to deal with right now?

This time last year, our family was in the middle of nine solid weeks of going to the hospital every day. We visited with and cared for our daughter, who had broken her neck and was now paralyzed. I remember thinking how nice it would have been if the other challenges of life would have simply gone away. Certainly, a lot of concerns took a back seat, but they didn’t go away. And in some cases, other issues became more magnified.

Perhaps you are feeling the same with COVID-19. The struggles that were a part of life prior to the coronavirus are still here. Some have taken a backseat to COVID-19, but others have been amplified.  If you were struggling financially a couple of months ago, that burden probably hasn’t lifted; rather, it may now loom larger. If you were having a relationship issue, being quarantined with that person may not have been the ideal solution. If you were concerned about a sick parent or other family members or concerned about a family member suffering from addiction or substance abuse, or if you are dealing with personal health issues—those issues are still present.

Along with the ongoing stresses of life, COVID-19 is creating additional stressors. One of the debates raging in our country right now is whether the cure is worse than the disease. Regardless of where we may land in that debate, one thing everyone agrees with is that the added stress of the pandemic—including the social isolation and lost wages—will lead to increases in suicides and stress-related health issues, such as heart attacks. If there was ever a time when employees needed assistance, it is now.

There is a lot of information available to help us deal with COVID-19. But what about help for these other challenges in our lives?

This is where the EAP can be a part of the solution.

The EAP

One of the most underutilized employee benefits is the Employee Assistance Program (EAP). This is a service many employers provide for their employees alongside other benefits such as health insurance. The program will differ from employer to employer, but there are features of the EAP that are common to most EAPs:[i]

The EAP services are free to the employee. The employer provides the EAP services, including a limited number of counseling sessions, free to the employee.

The EAP aids with a wide range of issues. The services often include:

  • Parenting and Child Care
  • Adoption
  • Elder Care
  • Alcohol and substance abuse
  • Stress and anxiety
  • Depression
  • Emotional Wellbeing
  • Difficulties in relationships
  • Legal issues
  • Dealing with grief
  • Workplace violence
  • Financial guidance, including help on issues such as
    • Identify theft and fraud resolution
    • Preparing a will
    • Creating and managing a budget
    • Understanding bankruptcy
    • Avoiding foreclosure
    • Purchasing a home
    • Estate planning
    • Debt relief
    • College funding and student loans
    • Investment planning
    • Medicare and Social Security information

The assistance provided through the EAP is kept confidential.  When employees voluntarily elect to use an EAP service, they can expect complete confidentiality. EAP providers are not permitted to share an employee’s information with the employer (including whether or not the employee contacted the EAP) without written permission from the employee.[ii]

The EAP services are often delivered via various communication channels. EAP services can be provided by phone, video-based counseling, online chats, email or face-to-face interaction.

EAP services are also made available to family members.  One of the best features is that EAP services are typically available not only to the employee, but also to the employee’s spouse, partner, and children living in the same household as the employee.   

What should you do?

Employees should:

    • Learn about the EAP offered by their employer.
    • Reach out to your employer and request information.
    • Become familiar with the services available through the EAP.
    • Boldly reach out to the EAP for assistance as needed.
    • Thank their employers for providing this service to them and their families.

Employers should:

    • Share this video with employees.
    • Share information about the EAP with employees. This information should include:
      • EAP Provider
      • Phone and contact information
      • Services covered

We all need a little help sometimes. The EAP can be one resource to provide that help.

To the employers who do provide an EAP for their employees: Thank you. Thank you for caring. Thank you for investing in your team.

Stay safe and well,

Jack

___________________________

[i] Check with your employer and EAP service provider to verify the benefits available to you.

[ii] There are some instances where information does not remain confidential. This would include when an employee provides written consent for information to be shared; when the life or safety of others is seriously threatened; when child abuse has occurred; or when disclosures are required by law.

Director of Population Health & Wellbeing

Jack Bruce

  • Population Health
  • Corporate Wellness
  • Employee Wellbeing

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