Struggling? Call Your EAP

Did your neighbor just threaten to sue you?

Did your spouse hit you?

Do you want a divorce but can’t afford a lawyer?

Are you feeling suicidal and don’t know where to turn?

These things can seem unrelated, but your Employee Assistance Program is set up to handle all of these.

A few weeks ago, Alison Green of Ask a Manager published an interview with an EAP employee, Em, that gave more detail than I’ve ever seen about EAPs.

Given one sentence to explain what we do, I’d say: we take care of things you need to do from time to time, but that can be difficult, obscure, or expensive. In more detail: Locating a therapist, getting legal advice, locating a dietitian, financial counselling that isn’t affiliated with a particular bank, orthopedagogy, occupational therapy, locating childcare or adultcare resources, conversations with a nurse about ways to manage an ongoing health issue, that kind of thing. Even if it’s something we don’t have the resources for in-house, we can usually locate something for you.

You may feel like you don’t know where to turn. That’s okay because Em and people like her do know. If your company doesn’t offer an EAP, your spouse, partner, or even roommate’s EAP may be able to help you. They often help all household members of an employee. Call and ask!

It’s absolutely confidential, and your boss won’t find out that you called.

Don’t stay stuck in a panic because you don’t know what to do or where to turn. Pick up the phone and call. I say this in a very loving way. This is the most underutilized service out there. Please, if you’re struggling, give them a call.

Image by Grae Dickason from Pixabay

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8 thoughts on “Struggling? Call Your EAP

  1. I don’t know if it’s like this for all EAP programs, but for ours, members of our immediate family or household also qualify for EAP services. That’s huge, especially now that entire families are facing extra challenges trying to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic and all of the resulting ramifications.

  2. When the boss told us that our company was going to add EAP to our benefits, I said “Hey, that’s great!” just as two of my coworkers said, “But none of us is drunk or crazy!” and then looked at me suspiciously. I was hoping for help to locate elder care options for my folks who were out of state. Our manager just went on to the next staff meeting topic without explaining the services that an EAP might offer. I talked to them about it later. They equated EAP with mental health care, which they felt was a shameful thing, so they needed to speak up right away and say, “Well I would never need that!” to maintain their standing among their peers. No one in the company disabused them of that notion, and they didn’t believe me, so I rather lost face that day. EAP services need better advertising like you and Alison are doing. (So does mental health care, but that’s another matter!)

    1. Even if you’re not “drunk or crazy,” a lot of us have family members or friends with substance abuse or mental health challenges, with which we have to deal, and EAP can help with that too.

    2. That’s a shame :/ I used to think it was basically a hotline for “I’m literally about to have a mental breakdown” and my co-worker and I used to joke and laugh that we were going to call it whenever something minor went wrong at work, but really it had just been explained badly, and years later at my next job, I’ve used it several times for a variety of things with great success. I’m incredibly glad for it.

  3. I called an EAP 10 years ago and it wasn’t much help. It was pretty much, “Here’s a random therapist 50 miles away. You’ll need to wait 3 months to get an appointment. Hope you make it.” I had written off EAPs until I saw the article at Ask A Manager. Things have definitely changed in the last decade, and now I realize that I have a real employee benefit that I’m not using.

  4. There are so many ways to find out which employees are using EAP. I mean really, would you trust your employer with this information? Your risking more than your privacy you’re risking your livelihood.

    1. If you ask management for an EAP referral or have your first appointment “on the clock,” as is allowed in my agency, sure, your employer will know you used EAP. Otherwise, no.

    2. I am the HR Manager at my company as well as the EAP administrator and I have no idea which employees have used the EAP and would have no idea how to find out either. Even with quarterly usage reports, there is no way to know. The EAP is completely confidential and some people really need it. So please don’t say that you are risking your privacy and livelihood because it’s not true and may dissuade someone who really needs it from reaching out.

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