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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
Apr 15, 20195 minutes

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, nearly one in five (about 46.6 million) adults in the U.S. live with a mental illness. Based on that statistic, mental health issues are likely to touch you or someone you know.

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

An EAP can help small businesses and their employees with a variety of issues in and out of the workplace, including mental health services and employee assistance with personal, family, and work issues. An EAP provides your employees with access to the support they need. This post will explain more about how EAPs work, and how they can provide mental health benefits for your team.

We’ve gathered our top resources to help you promote workplace wellness. Download our Employee Wellness Kit to get all the tips.

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. Research from the Center for Prevention and Health Services estimates that the workplace costs of mental illness and substance abuse disorders range from $79 to $105 billion each year.

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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 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.

Although their offerings can be quite broad, many EAP services either directly or indirectly address mental health. Professional counselors and other specialists accessible through an EAP can help employees tackle issues such as stress, depression, substance abuse, financial concerns, and family issues.

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.

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, 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. There’s really no need to wait for help or to second guess yourself when you can talk to a helpful professional for free.

Employee counseling can help with:

  • Anxiety at work

  • Stress at home or in personal relationships

  • Depression

  • Addiction issues

This professional counseling service is free, and a quality program will offer these services to members, and often their spouse or domestic partner, their parents, and their children as well. Privacy is also a cornerstone of these services, as employers having access to their employees’ mental health information is delicate issue. 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. People are also more likely to seek help when they feel they can trust the source and have confidentiality.

Work-Life Balance

Many people feel overwhelmed when trying to manage their work and home life all at once. Of course, this can have a real effect on their physical and mental health.

Work-life services from an EAP aim to ease some of that burden. Their 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 taking some of that stress out of their day-to-day lives.

80% of Americans said they “sometimes” felt stressed about money, and 30% felt “constantly” stressed over their finances.

Financial Assistance

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.

EAPs often offer helpful services to help people get on top of their finances, like planning for retirement, providing assistance with a stolen identity, connecting to a financial advisor, and more.

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 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 alleviate stress and address 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.

*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.