The EAP: Underutilized and Packed with Benefits

Have you ever stressed about your finances, struggled with parenting challenges or simply felt overwhelmed at work, and wished you had someone you could talk to without spending an arm and a leg for a counselor or therapist? Or has someone in your family faced addiction, depression or other serious mental health issues, and you haven’t known where to turn?

You probably have a resource that can help you with those kinds of situations free of charge, but you either don’t realize it or have failed to take advantage of it.

Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) are designed to meet challenges that workers face at work or beyond the workplace. Provided by employers to help employees deal with everyday stress, mental health challenges and other needs, EAPs give you a direct connection to experts. Plus, the connections are completely confidential . . . no one even needs to know you’re using the EAP except you.

Here are some of the issues EAPs commonly help employees address:

• financial matters
• legal questions
• career challenges
• personal and family counseling
• stress management
• day care crises
• stress, grief, depression or other mental health problems
• caring for aging parents
• alcohol or substance abuse
• work conflicts

But don’t think you have to be in the middle of a full-blown crisis to tap into these resources. According to the Society of Human Resource Management website, EAPs also help employees with matters like wedding planning, preparing for a new baby or even vacation planning.

The best part? These services are provided free of charge because your employer pays for it, typically as part of your benefits program. Why? Certainly out of concern for employees, but also because employers know that employees are more productive when they have fewer distractions.

How can you make use of these services? It starts by simply educating yourself about your company’s EAP. You likely receive information about it every year with your benefits package, but you certainly can contact your HR team to learn more. From there, it’s typically simply a matter of calling a phone number or going to a website, where you’ll explain your needs and be connected to someone who can help. It’s that easy.

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