Employee Assistance Programs

Authored by Pin Ng

Edited by Alexander Bentley

Reviewed by Dr Ruth Arenas Matta

What is an Employee Assistance Program

  • EAP treatment is a benefit to employees just like physical healthcare programs

  • Employee Assistance Programs help with a range of mental health concerns such as anxiety, grief, burnout, depression, addiction, divorce and life crisis

  • Internal and external EAP treatments may be offered by employers

  • EAP is provided by companies to ensure you have the best possibility to improve and maintain your mental health

  •  An EAP program is short-term and counselors and therapists focus on individuals reaching specific goals

  • Goal-oriented therapy is a way to make big strides in a short timeframe

Does an Employee Assistance Program Help Mental Health?


Physical healthcare isn’t the only service provided by companies these days. Many companies offer their employees mental healthcare to ensure they stay fit physically and mentally. An Employee Assistance Program (EAP) provides an individual with a specific number of mental healthcare sessions with a trained professional.


An Employee Assistance Program typically provides up to six sessions of mental healthcare with a licensed therapist. Individuals undergoing EAP treatment don’t incur any out-of-pocket expenses. Therapy sessions are taken care of by the company an individual works for.

How does a Employee Assistance Program work?


Companies that offer an Employee Assistance Program to its employees will make direct payment to the mental healthcare provider. Employees are able to choose the EAP provider in some cases. In other instances, a company will have a contract with a specific mental healthcare provider that offers Employee Assistance Program treatment.


EAP treatment is a benefit to employees just like physical healthcare programs. Employee Assistance Program is short-term therapy and counseling. You may be able to access psychological assessments.


You can consult with your employer to learn more about its Employee Assistance Program options. By consulting with your employer, you can discover how the services will be free of charge. Unfortunately, some individuals are worried to speak to their employers about mental health issues.


It can be difficult to speak to someone at your work about mental health. Employers will keep any information they learn discreet and confidential, however.

Pros & Cons of Employee Assistance Programs


Internal and external Employee Assistance Programs treatments may be offered by employers. An internal program allows an employer to provide EAP sessions. The employer will hire the provider to deliver the sessions. External EAP treatment is provided by a mental healthcare specialist that is not affiliated with the company.


Advantages of an internal Employee Assistance Program


  • Therapists and counselors have inside knowledge of the employer making it more understanding and able to relate to employees’ issues
  • The provider may be able to speak with the employer about providing additional help to employees
  • Providers may be more flexible with scheduling and quicker to work with
  • Colleagues can be trained as mental health first aiders
  • Referral information is not necessary


Disadvantages of an internal Employee Assistance Program


  • Cost of training staff in Mental Health is high
  • The time of training these staff is long
  • Risk of employees becoming overloaded by problems
  • Legal implications of employees giving out unqualified advice to peers
  • Lack of adequate mental health supervision for the first aiders
  • Risk factors of having employees acting on non professional advice
  • An internal employee may miss the signals of violence or suicide
  • The loss in productivity of the designated mental health first aiders
  • No clearly defined referral pathway if a problems requires urgent therapeutic care


Advantages of external Employee Assistance Programs


  • Employees may be more confident of confidentiality
  • Mental healthcare provider could seem unbiased toward treatment
  • Any therapist can be accessed as long as the Employee Assistance Program is accepted
  • Spouses and/or children can also use the EAP provider
  • Mental healthcare provider may be able to continue working with an individual for lower rates after EAP sessions finish


Disadvantages of external Employee Assistance Programs


  • Low utilization rates mean that staff don’t really use these services.
  • Poor communication about the service because most EAPs want to profit from the low utilization rates.
  • PEPM structure (per employee per month) means that the less they are used, the more profit the EAP makes
  • Non-specific services can be too general to appeal to users.
  • Management is often excluded from Employee Assistance Program services in typical EAP structures
  • When employees want to access Employee Assistance Program services, they typically have to go through HR
  • Non- confidentiality is a big concern whether real or perceived


How to use Employee Assistance Program treatment?


You can receive information about the Employee Assistance Program treatment provided by your employer. The human resources department will be able to provide you with details about sessions. You can receive information about which family members may be able to access treatment. A list of Employee Assistance Program providers will also be provided.


The HR department will be able to contact an internal EAP therapist or counselor for you. In some cases, the HR department will give you the therapist or counselor’s contact details. Once you have been given details for the Employee Assistance Program sessions, you can book treatment to begin.


It may be difficult to find an external Employee Assistance Program provider. In this instance, you can contact the HR department, who can suggest a list of EAP providers. If needed, the HR department can speak with the provider first to set up sessions. In addition, the HR department will be able to find out information about what the treatment covers.


Why should an employee access Employee Assistance Program treatment?


If you are struggling with mental health issues, then accessing Employee Assistance Program treatment could be the answer you need. EAP is provided by companies to ensure you have the best possibility to improve and maintain your mental health.


There are a number of reasons you should access EAP treatment from your employer.


Five reasons you should access EAP treatment from your employer:


  • Support for wellbeing – An EAP is able to provide practical support for physical and mental wellbeing. You can receive counseling from a therapist to address emotional healthcare issues that cause problems.
  • Trauma support – Trauma and bereavement are two areas that cause mental health issues. Employees can struggle after suffering the death of a loved one. Trauma counselors and therapists specializing in trauma can be put in contact with you.
  • Debt management – Mental health issues can cause a variety of problems. One of those issues is financial problems. Some Employee Assistance Programs are able to put individuals in contact with financial specialists to help them manage finances.
  • Supporting family – Employee Assistance Programs can also help you with the support of your family. If you family members are struggling with depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues, EAP can treat them.
  • Free counseling – The counseling and therapy is the biggest benefit of Employee Assistance Programs. A counselor or therapist can teach you how to cope with stress, anxiety, depression, and other mental health problems.

Employee Assistance Types of Therapy


Employee Assistance Programs are an ideal way for you to get the help you need for mental health issues. The program is short-term and counselors and therapists focus on individuals reaching specific goals. Goal-oriented therapy is a way to make big strides in a short timeframe.


There are three types of therapy you may undergo as part of EAP.


The three types of EAP therapy include:


  • Solution-Focused Therapy – This identifies a specific goal that can be achieved by the client in a short time frame.
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy – CBT identifies unrealistic or negative thought patterns. It addresses these negative thoughts, helping you to cope with these patterns.
  • Strengths-Based Therapy – You will identify your strengths that already exist and work towards maximizing these strengths to improve your life.


Employee Assistance Programs Summary


Employee Assistance Programs are mental healthcare treatment designed to help you improve your wellbeing. Treatment can be provided internal or externally by your employer free of charge. EAP is a benefit provided by employers to help their employees deal with emotional and mental health issues. If you are struggling with emotional or mental health issues, then you should contact your employer’s HR department to learn more about Employee Assistance Programs.


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