Is your EAP program your most underutilized, 100% funded employee benefit? If your organization is like many who offer an EAP program, your employees may not even be aware of the services available, or there may be a stigma attached to inquiring about EAP assistance, or they may not even know what EAP stands for.
Oftentimes, educating employees on what EAP means and communicating the details of the various services offered is the first step to improving program participation and helping employees who need help.
Here is SHRM’s definition of an EAP:
“An employee assistance program (EAP) is a work-based intervention program designed to identify and assist employees in resolving personal problems (e.g., marital, financial or emotional problems; family issues; substance/alcohol abuse) that may be adversely affecting the employee’s performance. The plan may also include a wide array of other services, such as nurse advice telephone access, basic legal assistance and referrals, adoption assistance, or assistance finding elder care services. EAP services are usually made available not only to the employee but also to the employee’s spouse, children and non-marital partner living in the same household as the employee. EAP plans are usually 100% paid by the employer.” Souce: shrm.org, Aug. 2014
Studies show that the #1 Reason employees don’t take advantage of the EAP services available to them is the stigma attached to mental health and the fears of being labeled “mentally ill, crazy, nuts or psycho”.
A strategy I recommend to employers to help overcome this stigma is to re-imagine or re-name the EAP program to emphasize Brain Health vs. Mental Health. This innovative approach to reframing how brain health is viewed and thus communicating and promoting brain health and the benefits and services offered (and usually paid for at 100% by the employer regardless of how many employees use it) to the employee population in a fresh, positive, inviting manner can be a game changer and provide outreach to those who can really benefit.
May was Mental Health Awareness Month, but the effort to de-stigmatize and re-evaluate strategies to improve the overall health of our employee populations needs to be an ongoing initiative.
For resources and research on brain health, check out Dr. Amen Clinics. Here is just one of many articles available. For more information on what you and your organization can do to reimagine your EAP Benefits Program, contact email@example.com