Employee Assistance Program
An EAP is a voluntary, confidential program that helps employees (including management) work through various life challenges that may adversely affect job performance, health, and personal well-being to optimize an organization’s success. EAP services include assessments, counseling, and referrals for additional services to employees with personal and/or work-related concerns, such as stress, financial issues, legal issues, family problems, office conflicts, and alcohol and substance use disorders. EAPs also often work with management and supervisors providing advanced planning for situations, such as organizational changes, legal considerations, emergency planning, and response to unique traumatic events.
History of EAPs
EAPs have a long history in the United States, tracing back to the 1940s. They originally began as occupational alcohol programs to address the negative impact that the misuse of alcohol has on productivity and organizational performance. The focus of these programs expanded as organizations recognized that alcohol was not the only issue affecting employees at work. Current EAPs address a wide range of issues, such as workplace conflicts, family matters, financial challenges, mental health, and so on. In the 1970s, EAP-related legislation began to be passed on EAP laws, regulations, and Government wide initiatives. Another significant change to the EAP field in the 1970s was the formation of private EAP firms. These organizations began to offer EAP services via contracts to employers.
Business Case for EAPs
EAPs can reap benefits for agencies, employees, families, and communities by:
- Improving productivity and employee engagement;
- Improving employees’ and dependents’ abilities to successfully respond to challenges;
- Developing employee and manager competencies in managing workplace stress;
- Reducing workplace absenteeism and unplanned absences;
- Supporting employees and managers during workforce restructuring, reduction-in-forces, or other workforce change events;
- Reducing workplace accidents;
- Reducing the likelihood of workplace violence or other safety risks;
- Supporting disaster and emergency preparedness;
- Managing the effect of disruptive incidents, such as workplace, injury, or other crises;
- Facilitating safe, timely, and effective return-to-work for employees short-term and extended absences;
- Reducing healthcare costs associated with stress, depression, and other mental health issues; and
- Reducing employee turnover and related replacement costs
- The National Alliance on Mental Illness(https://www.nami.org/) is a grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness. It offers support, education, and advocacy opportunities for people living with a mental health condition and their families.
- The National Institute of Mental Health(https://www.nimh.nih.gov/) provides educational resources on all common mental health disorders and issues. It also features many articles in Spanish.
- The Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance(http://www.dbsalliance.org/) was created to help patients and their loved ones receive a wide range of information and support as they seek to gain a greater understanding of depression and bipolar disorder. The site’s content is reviewed by a member of their Scientific Advisory Board, as well as patients living with depression or bipolar disorder, to ensure the highest quality information.
- The Sidran Traumatic Stress Institute is a nonprofit organization that helps people who have witnessed or experienced traumatic situations. Their website offers many resources for treatment, support, self-help and recovery (https://www.sidran.org/).
- Initially founded in 1980, the Anxiety and Depression Association of America makes it their mission to further education and research for obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety, depression, and related disorders such as hoarding. Visit the https://adaa.org/ to learn more.