Mental health remains taboo in most workplaces – do not be alarmed if this is your first time hearing of an Employee Assistance Program (EAP). My first introduction to the employer-paid benefit is when I inquired about my previous job’s mental health policy. Since discovering, it’s been a great resource to help me maintain my mental health routine.
Your job’s EAP is a free and confidential resource designed to help you understand and overcome personal problems that directly impact your mental health and daily life.
There are so many factors against communities of color when it comes to finding resources. It is imperative that we take advantage of effective resources when we discover them.
Read on to learn more about the process and advantages of this underused benefits program and help get your mind strong and healthy!
What is an EAP?
An Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is an employer-paid benefit program that offers free and confidential assessments, resources, and services to employees and their families to help address a range of personal problems and concerns that interfere with employees’ well being and work performance.
How Does an EAP Work?
With its wide-ranging services from depression to legal matters, EAP services, directly and indirectly, address mental health and stress concerns. Due to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (or HIPPA) regulations, any EAP services received by employees or family members are confidential. So while your employer pays for the service, they have no insight into how or why you and your family are using the service. All EAPs provide a fixed number (typically 1-3) of counseling referral sessions at no cost to the employee to fully assess the issue before recommending a resource, therapist, or service. While EAPs do not offer long-term counseling, is a powerful resource to help direct you toward services to reach long term solutions.
What Services are Offered Through an EAP?
EAP resources and services can vary by company. Some services that most EAPs provide are:
- Mental Health and Family Support: Learn how to manage stress, address depression and anxiety, cope with illness, and adjust to life challenges. Also, get help with marriage and relationship issues.
- Workplace and Career Support: Career growth, and get tips for managing workplace stress, how to work with a difficult manager or co-workers, and other issues.
- Home Life Referrals: Referrals for child care, eldercare, adoption, pet care, home repairs, and more.
- Financial and Legal Assistance: Calls with financial consultants on debt, budget, retirement, etc. Get a no-cost ½-hour, per legal issue, with a network attorney. (Employment-related matters excluded.)
Of course, not every EAP program will have the same offerings, be sure to check with your provider to find out what’s covered.
How Do I Make an Appointment?
EAP is available 24 hours a day 7 days a week. You can request an appointment by signing into your healthcare provider’s website or using the 1-800 number on your insurance card.
To see a counselor at no cost, you will need an EAP code to give to your network provider.
Why Should I Take Advantage of My Job’s EAP?
- Confidentiality: Your use of EAP services is private and confidential, unless there’s an immediate safety concern to you or someone else.
- No cost: The resource and referral assistance provided on child care, eldercare, pet care, etc., for example, does not cover the cost of the services.The legal services cover a no-cost 30-minute consultation per legal issue. If you retain the network attorney, you get a 25% discount on legal fees.
- 24/7 access: EAPs are available 24 hours a day 7 days a week. It is easily accessible and can be fit into your busy schedule. Please note, EAP telephone consultants are not a crisis service. If you’re in crisis Text HOME to 741741 to connect with a Crisis Counselor or call 911.
- Great way to find a therapist: Your EAP gives you access to in-network counselors who are licensed clinicians available to help you identify specific problems and make a plan for managing and resolving them. Going through your EAP can help guarantee your therapist is covered under your insurance.
- Wide-ranging services for you and your family: EAPs are designed to help address issues that impact professional and personal wellness.
Why Should I Take Advantage of My Job’s EAP Amidst Covid-19?
During the COVID-19 pandemic, health insurance companies are expanding their benefits across the EAP program. For example, my insurance provider, Cigna, is giving twice as many sessions to connect to licensed behavioral health providers for the next five months. This means instead of the standard three free sessions – I am now allowed six until September 2020.
Additionally, there are unique mental health needs facing communities of color. Use the resources that are available to you. And stay well.
This article first appeared on BringYourOwnPower.com.