Employee assistance programs are free and voluntary mental health and substance abuse services that many employers offer, even though they may not advertise these programs. These widely available services can provide employees with important life-saving resources that can lead to long-term treatment of mental health and substance abuse conditions. Below we will take a look at some of the services provided by employee assistance programs as well as how to find out if your employer provides these helpful programs.
Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) are provided for free by many government jobs as well as some private-sector employers. These programs offer assessments, counseling, and referrals for a variety of different services to employees, dependents, and other household members. The services offered include those based on financial concerns, legal issues, family problems, office conflicts, and a variety of mental health and substance abuse resources. Though EAPs began as alcohol addiction management programs in the 1930s, they have evolved to cover all aspects of an individual’s life and focus on how those issues may be affecting work performance. These programs seek to provide employees with easy services that offer quick rehabilitation and readily available resources for mental health and substance abuse conditions that may be affecting work performance.
Employee assistance programs offer a wide variety of services for both employees and managerial staff. These services begin with education and extend as far as offering referral services for individuals struggling with mental illness or substance abuse. Though these services are often offered short-term, typically ranging from three to eight sessions with EAP professionals, they are critical for employees who need help and don’t know where to go. EAPs also offer managers and superiors training courses for learning how to address these issues with their employees who may require assistance of some kind.
Below is a comprehensive list of services that EAPs offer:
EAPs can also provide services and resources for management consultation and guidance for higher standards around the workplace. This could include how to support employees and manage interpersonal issues within the workplace to more effectively promote teamwork and cooperation. Other benefits of these management programs include enhancing job performance, improve communication, and effective conflict resolution strategies.
There are a number of different types of EAP service options that companies can choose between when they are enrolling in these programs. Typically, these services are dependent upon the number of employees and the return on investment provided by these services. At the end of the day, will an employee assistance program save the company money by reducing healthcare expenditures due to mental health and substance abuse conditions? Will employees utilize these services, and which services are more appealing to employees? These are things that employers have to consider when providing EAPs for their employees.
Companies can offer several different plan options with different services, including:
There is a wide variety of benefits that individual employers and researchers have seen within the workplace when it comes to employees who seek help from employee assistance programs. These benefits can include:
The use of EAP services with regards to mental health and substance abuse conditions has shown to increase the likelihood that employees will utilize other behavioral healthcare services for continued treatment. Because EAPs are often used in the short-term, they can be an entry point for many employees to find referrals or recommendations for mental health and substance abuse treatment programs that provide longer-term care and support.
Because employee assistance programs are federally regulated, there are specific rights that each employee has when seeking assistance. Employees have the right to be treated in a respectful manner, and they have a right to seek EAP treatment voluntarily and with informed consent before receiving any services. Employees also have a right to confidentiality with regards to which services they receive as well as any details whatsoever regarding their treatment. Employees also have a right to refuse to sign a release of information regarding services received.
These rights are protected under federal law and are in place to ensure that employees feel comfortable when they seek help through EAP services. Utilization rates differ from company to company, however, about 75% of employers report that they offer EAP services but only 5% to 10% of employees actually utilize those services. This is due in large part to the fear that employers will find out about substance abuse or mental health conditions.
Different companies are going to offer different EAP plans and services through various providers, so contacting the HR department is the best way to find out what programs each company offers. Below is a list of different EAP resources and providers that can help employees who are seeking employee assistance.
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