Get the Glossary

Glossary Paragraph

Download

Resource Center / Mental Health

What is an EAP? How You Can Improve Employee Mental Health at Work

Approximately one in five American adults experiences mental illness. An Employee Assistance Program, or EAP, can help.

Sasha Butkovich headshot November 2017
Sasha Butkovich
Jul 06, 20217 minutes

Approximately one in five American adults experiences mental illness. An Employee Assistance Program, or EAP, can help.

According to a 2019 study National Institute of Mental Health, nearly one in five (more than 51 million) adults live with a mental illness in the U.S alone. Worldwide, nearly a billion people live with a mental illness. With so many people affected, mental health issues are likely to touch you or someone you know, whether in your personal life or in the workplace.

As an employer who cares about your employees’ mental health and wellbeing, you may want to provide mental health benefits that can help your team members who are dealing with issues like depression, substance abuse, and more. One great way to do that is to offer access to an Employee Assistance Program (EAP).

An EAP can help employees with a variety of issues in and out of the workplace, including mental health services and help coping with personal, family, work, and financial issues. Discover more about how EAPs work and find out how they can provide mental health benefits for your team.

Mental Health at Work

Mental health matters. Although it is a personal issue, the effects of an individual’s mental health and wellbeing can be far-reaching and even impact their work life. According to Mental Health America’s Mind the Workplace study, the workplace financial impact of mental health issues is as high as $500 billion in lost workplace productivity each year, even without taking into account COVID-19’s impact on mental health.

The Ultimate Employee Wellness Toolkit

Get four eBooks full of dozens of ideas to boost employee wellness.

Thanks for downloading!

If the requested file does not load in a new window, click here.

*
*
*
*
*

Beyond the potential financial costs, there’s a real cost to your people, too. You work hard to hire the best people for your team, and you have the opportunity as an employer to help them care for their whole selves, beyond the office walls. Access to a rich set of mental health services helps business owners provide resources to take care of their teams, whatever their needs may be. It’s important for employers to be aware of stress and mental health at work, and how they might assist or support their employees.

What is an Employee Assistance Program (EAP)?

An Employee Assistance Program, or EAP, connects member employees to confidential, professional assistance to help with personal, family, and work issues. Often these services come at no charge to the employee.

An EAP can help ease the stigma of mental health in the workplace by making it easy and affordable for employees to seek help from qualified professionals. To ensure your employees will have access to the right mental health benefits and support, look for some of these key offerings in an EAP.

How does an EAP work?

Generally, employees access EAP services through an external provider that has experience in providing counseling and referral services. For some larger companies, those services might be offered in-house, but commonly EAP services are outsourced. SHRM notes that 62 percent of employers say they outsource their EAPs.

Benefits-eligible Justworks customers offering health insurance with Aetna can access an EAP through Health Advocate, which provides:

  • Consultants to help employees resolve healthcare and insurance-related issues

  • 24/7 access to confidential counseling services through Health Advocate for a range of mental health needs

  • Access to legal services, child and eldercare, and financial planning

Benefits of an EAP

For employees, some EAPs offer the potential of getting necessary mental health counseling, finding the right financial wellness services, and more easily understanding and navigating health insurance plans.

For the employer, an EAP means their staff experiences reduced stress, decreased absenteeism, and overall employee retention.

Short-term Counseling

Finding a therapist or accessing counseling might feel out of reach for those suffering from stress or mental health issues. But finding someone to talk to is simple with an EAP.

With a quality EAP, though, employee counseling is just a phone call away for members. EAPs generally provide access to counseling over the phone, or even in-person sessions with a local counselor.

When your company’s benefits program includes EAP services, your employees could easily locate and be able to talk to a helpful mental health professional without incurring out-of-pocket costs. An EAP can help remove barriers that prevent people from reaching out for the help they need. When someone works for a company that offers an EAP, there’s really no need to delay or second guess getting help.

Employee counseling can help with:

  • Anxiety at work

  • Stress at home or in personal relationships

  • Depression

  • Addiction issues

  • Other mental health matters

Through an EAP, these professional counseling services are free. A quality EAP program will offer these services to eligible employees, and often their spouse or domestic partner, their parents, and their children as well.

Privacy is a cornerstone of EAP services, which benefits employees and employers alike. This is beneficial, as people are more likely to seek help when they feel they can trust the source and have confidentiality. Generally speaking, if the EAP provides access to licensed professionals (as opposed to just referrals), it is subject to HIPAA privacy, security and breach notification rules.

Help With Finding Work-Life Balance

Many people feel overwhelmed when trying to manage their work and home life all at once, a reality that has been exacerbated by unexpected remote work due to COVID-19 paired with virtual school and lockdowns. Even in ordinary circumstances, work-life balance concerns can have a real effect on employees’ physical and mental health.

Work-life balance services from an EAP aim to ease some of that burden. An EAP program’s experts can provide assistance with a range of services, such as finding childcare or elder care, connecting with a lawyer, or even receiving nutrition advice. Just think of how much better your employees might feel if they had help easing some of that stress out of their day-to-day lives.

Help Coping With Financial Concerns

Let’s face it, money worries often lead to stress, and financial burdens can have a big impact on a person’s mental health. In fact, according to one survey, 80% of Americans polled said they “sometimes” felt stressed about money, and 30% felt “constantly” stressed over their finances. COVID-19 has led to additional financial stress, specifically related to paying bills and not having enough money saved.

Some EAPs go above and beyond. Health Advocate, for example, offers a Medical Bill Saver tool. If you have medical or dental bills over $400, Health Advocate will help negotiate your bills on your behalf to reduce your out-of-pocket health insurance payments. Some members have even seen savings of up to 60%.

Want to create a plan of attack for knocking off debt and achieving your financial goals? Subscribe to our free email course, Financial Health 101: Debt and Student Loans.

How Justworks Can Help

Justworks has teamed up with Health Advocate*, a leading clinical health advocacy company, to offer access to their EAP and help our customers with a variety of issues in and out of the workplace.

Employees at companies offering health insurance through Justworks will have unlimited access to Health Advocate’s EAP services at no additional cost.

  • They offer members personalized health advocacy support through a Personal Health Advocate — typically a registered nurse, supported by medical directors and benefits and claims specialists.

  • Health Advocate is available to eligible employees, their spouses or domestic partners, dependent children, parents, and parents-in-law.

Helping Employees to Boost Your Business

Helping employees alleviate stress and address their mental health concerns can have real mental health benefits for your team, and help your business overall. Consider offering access to an EAP, like the one from Health Advocate, to provide a wealth of services and support for your employees. Doing so will empower you to strengthen your company’s benefits strategy while better supporting your employees.

*Health Advocate is not affiliated with any insurance or third party provider. Health Advocate complies with all government privacy standards. Health Advocate does not replace health insurance coverage, provide medical care, or recommend treatment.

This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, legal or tax advice. If you have any legal or tax questions regarding this content or related issues, then you should consult with your professional legal or tax advisor.