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Employee Assistance Programs for Mental Health & Substance Abuse

One of the best ways to do so is with the use of Employee Assistance Programs or EAPs. With an EAP, a company can support the well-being of their team members. When you support their mental health, you increase productivity which contributes to the organization’s overall success.

Navigation: What is EAP and How Does it Work?, What is the Purpose of an Employee Assistance Program?, What is an Example of an Employee Assistance Program?, What is the Advantage to an Employer Who Offers an Employee Assistance Program?, What are Four Key Features of Employee Assistance Programs?, What Can Your Employee Assistance Program (EAP) Support You With?, What is the Difference Between EAP and Behavioral Health?, Do Employee Assistance Programs Help With Substance Abuse?, Are EAP Services the Same as FMLA?, How to Go to Rehab Without Losing Your Job


Although it seems like COVID-19 has caused most of the anxiety and unhappiness experienced by workers today, research shows that mental health problems have already been affecting more than half of all employees even before the pandemic.

When employees are suffering from the symptoms of mental illness, productivity suffers. This can make them more prone to making mistakes and absences. They may also struggle to get along with their co-workers. Even when they get their work done, it’s not up to the usual company standards.

It is important for companies to take care of their mental health to help them get motivated again.

One of the best ways to do so is with the use of Employee Assistance Programs or EAPs. With an EAP, a company can support the well-being of their team members. When you support their mental health, you increase productivity which contributes to the organization’s overall success.

Whether they are struggling from anxiety, depression, or a substance use disorder, employees need mental health support from EAP professionals. Here we will discuss what EAP means and what it can do for your employees.

What is EAP and How Does it Work?

Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) are employer-sponsored programs that aim to support the mental and emotional health and well-being of employees. These employee benefit programs are provided by a company to help workers resolve issues that may impact their life including personal problems that cause mental health disorders.

EAPs typically provide confidential, short-term counseling services to employees and their families for a wide range of personal and work-related issues such as stress, substance abuse, family problems, financial issues, and mental health concerns.

EAPs may also offer referrals to community resources and specialized services such as legal or financial counseling, and may provide educational programs and resources to promote health and wellness in the workplace.

Additionally, EAPs may even offer support to employees during times of crisis, such as natural disasters, serious illnesses, or workplace accidents. These programs can help workers find substance abuse treatment programs, for example. This can help those who are struggling with drug and alcohol addiction find treatment services, support groups, educational services, and other substance abuse services for their condition.

The goal of an EAP is to help employees manage personal and work-related challenges and ultimately improve their overall well-being, which can positively impact their job performance, productivity, and job satisfaction.


What is the Purpose of an Employee Assistance Program?

The American Institute of Stress says that 48% of people believe that stress has a negative effect on their personal and professional life. This is nearly half of all workers in the US. It’s a significant statistic, given that it costs employers $300 billion annually in terms of “stress-related healthcare and missed work.”

To fight this, companies offer EAP services as part of their benefits package. Today, EAPs have evolved into holistic well-being programs.

The purpose of an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is to provide employees with confidential and professional assistance to help them manage personal and work-related problems that may be affecting their well-being and job performance. EAPs offer a range of services that can include counseling, consultation, education, and behavioral healthcare services. They can even offer referrals to community resources.

The aim of an EAP is to improve the mental health and overall well-being of employees, which can have positive impacts on their job performance, productivity, and job satisfaction.

Some of the issues that an EAP can assist with include stress, anxiety, depression, substance abuse, relationship problems, financial difficulties, legal concerns, and other personal or work-related issues that may be affecting an employee’s performance or well-being.

More specifically, EAPs can help employees dealing with family concerns like divorce, adoption assistance, and childcare. It can help with other social issues like conflict resolution, career transitions, and networking.

An EAP can also help an employee who is recovering from traumatic events like accidents or the loss of a loved one.

An EAP is a valuable resource that can help employees overcome personal and work-related challenges, improve their mental health and well-being, and ultimately lead to a more productive and positive workplace.

What is an Example of an Employee Assistance Program?

An example of an EAP is the LifeWorks program, which provides a range of services, including counseling, legal and financial consultations, and referrals to community resources. The LifeWorks program is available to employees of many large companies and organizations, including universities, hospitals, and government agencies.

Another example of an EAP is the Employee Support Program (ESP) provided by the Canadian Armed Forces. The ESP offers counseling, crisis intervention, and other support services to military personnel and their families. The program is designed to help military personnel deal with the unique stressors of military life and maintain their mental health and well-being.

A lot of companies are now adding EAPs to their list of benefits to attract more employees. Workers can assume that their mental health will be taken seriously in a workplace environment that offers EAP services.

What is the Advantage to an Employer Who Offers an Employee Assistance Program?

While EAPs are meant to help workers with their mental health, they are not the only ones who can benefit from it. EAPs can also benefit employers by reducing absenteeism, turnover, and healthcare costs. It also boosts employee morale and helps develop a healthy organizational culture.

Employers who offer an employee assistance program can benefit in several ways. With healthier and happier employees, the organization can enjoy increased job satisfaction and productivity. Since they feel supported and valued, workers are far less likely to leave their employer. EAPs help address the root causes of employee dissatisfaction, allowing them to resolve personal and work-related problems. This also makes employees more engaged with their work.

An EAP can send a message to employees that their employer cares about their well-being and is committed to providing a supportive and healthy work environment. This can contribute to a positive organizational culture and improve employee morale.

On the economic side of things, EAPs can provide cost savings to employers by reducing the costs associated with absenteeism, turnover, and healthcare expenses. According to a 2018 study, companies with an EAP saw a 69.2% decrease in absenteeism as well as a 22.8% improvement in work attendance. These companies enjoyed a 10% decrease in workplace distress.

An EAP allows for the proactive prevention of serious health problems. This can be a valuable investment for employers overall.

What are Four Key Features of Employee Assistance Programs?

EAPs are important for companies to have. But for these member assistance programs to be successful and actually beneficial, they need to have four key features. These are the four key features of EAPs:

Confidentiality: EAPs typically provide confidential services to employees, which means that the information employees share with EAP counselors or providers is kept private and not shared with their employer unless the employee consents to it or the law requires it.

Accessibility: EAPs should be easily accessible to all employees, regardless of their location, work schedule, or job position. This may include telephone hotlines, online services, or in-person counseling.

Holistic approach: EAPs usually offer a broad range of services that address different aspects of employees’ lives, such as financial, legal, family, health, and mental health issues. EAPs may also offer preventive measures, such as stress management, wellness programs, or training.

Employer support: EAPs are usually sponsored and funded by employers, who have a vested interest in promoting their employees’ well-being and productivity. Employers may also provide additional support, such as flexible work arrangements, time off, or referrals to other resources, to help employees deal with their issues.

What Can Your Employee Assistance Program (EAP) Support You With?


If you are an employee and are interested in the different ways an EAP can support you in your current job, here are some of the things you can expect from this workplace benefit:

For starters, EAPs provide emotional and mental health support. These programs can provide counseling services for employees dealing with stress, anxiety, depression, or other mental health issues.

If you have a problem with substance abuse and addiction, an EAP can provide support and referrals. They may help you find an appropriate addiction treatment program that can help you with your condition.

Aside from certain health conditions, EAPs can also help with certain social troubles like work-related stress, conflicts, financial problems, and even legal issues. EAPs can provide resources and referrals that will help you find support for debt or estate planning, for example.

Overall, these programs are designed to take care of your health and wellbeing. In fact, they can even help you find nutrition counseling or fitness programs so you can take better care of your body.

Take note that this workplace benefit may also extend to your immediate family members, depending on the specific EAP. The specific services offered by an EAP may vary depending on the organization and the EAP provider. Employees should consult their HR department or EAP provider to learn more about the specific services available to them.

What is the Difference Between EAP and Behavioral Health?

EAPs and Behavioral Health Programs are both designed to support the mental health and well-being of individuals. However, they differ in their scope, focus, and delivery.

EAPs are short-term counseling services that provide confidential support to employees and their families for personal or work-related issues. EAPs are usually free to employees and their families, and they aim to address immediate concerns and prevent them from escalating into more significant problems.

On the other hand, behavioral health programs are more comprehensive programs that address a broader range of mental health conditions, including severe mental illness and addiction. These programs are designed to provide long-term support and treatment to individuals with mental health conditions and may include individual and group therapy, medication management, case management, and rehabilitation services.

An EAP may help an employee find a behavioral health program if they are struggling with drug addiction or alcoholism.

Behavioral health programs are often covered by health insurance plans and are typically delivered by licensed mental health professionals.

In summary, EAPs are designed to provide short-term support for personal and work-related issues, while Behavioral Health Programs offer more comprehensive, long-term support for mental health conditions.

Do Employee Assistance Programs Help With Substance Abuse?

One of the most commonly asked questions about EAPs is whether or not they cover substance abuse services and addiction treatment. The answer is yes, they do.  Employee assistance programs can help employees with a wide range of concerns, including substance abuse disorders.

For employees struggling with substance abuse, EAPs typically offer services such as assessment, counseling, referral to treatment programs, and ongoing support. They may also provide education and training for employees and supervisors on substance abuse prevention, early detection, and intervention.

In fact, research has shown that EAPs can be effective in reducing substance abuse among employees. For example, a study published in the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology found that employees who participated in an EAP for substance abuse had significantly lower rates of substance abuse and were more likely to seek treatment compared to employees who did not use the program.

Are EAP Services the Same as FMLA?

EAPS are not the same as FMLA, which refers to the Family and Medical Leave Act.

EAPs are typically employer-sponsored programs while the FMLA is a federal law that requires certain employers to provide eligible employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year for certain family and medical reasons. This may include serious health conditions, the birth or adoption of a child, and other things that can make an employee unable to work.

While both EAPs and FMLA provide support to employees, they serve different purposes and address different needs. EAPs are intended to help employees with personal and work-related issues that may impact their job performance, while FMLA is intended to provide job protection and time off for eligible employees who need to address certain family or medical issues.

How to Go to Rehab Without Losing Your Job

Going to rehab is an important step towards recovering from addiction, but it can be daunting to figure out how to balance your work responsibilities with your treatment. This is why a lot of employees refuse to seek treatment even if they really need it. This hesitation to seek treatment can cause their drug use to develop into a full-blown addiction.

Workers should understand their workplace policies before making any decisions. Review your company’s policies and see if they offer an EAP. Other than that, you should also learn about the company’s policies surrounding medical leave, sick leave, and time off. This will help you determine your options. It will also heavily influence the way you approach treatment.

Also consider your legal protections. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects individuals with disabilities, including addiction, from discrimination in the workplace. If you’re worried about losing your job because of your treatment, familiarize yourself with your legal protections.

Do your research and look into various sources for addiction treatment so you know what you are getting into. For example, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is a good resource for all things related to addiction treatment.

Communicate with your employer. It is essential to have an open and honest conversation with your employer about your need to go to rehab. You need to be on the same page. Explain why you need treatment, how long you will be gone, and what you hope to achieve from the experience.

Work with your employer to develop a plan for how your work will be handled while you’re in rehab. This may involve delegating tasks to coworkers, hiring a temporary employee, or arranging for remote work.

Going to rehab is a big commitment, and it’s important to be honest with yourself about your ability to balance your work responsibilities with your treatment. If you don’t feel like you can manage both, it may be necessary to take a leave of absence from work.

Remember, taking care of yourself is essential for maintaining a healthy and fulfilling life. Don’t let the fear of losing your job prevent you from seeking the help you need. Look for a rehab near you today and get started on the road to recovery.


Rehab is Your Best Chance

Treatment is an addicted individualʼs best option if they want to recover. Beating an addiction not only requires eliminating the physical dependence, but also addressing the behavioral factors that prevent them from wanting to get better. Simply quitting may not change the psychological aspect of addiction. Some people quit for a while, and then take drugs or alcohol again, only to overdose because they did not detox properly. Recovery involves changing the way the patient feels, thinks, and behaves.

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Fel Clinical Director of Content
Felisa Laboro has been working with addiction and substance abuse businesses since early 2014. She has authored and published over 1,000 articles in the space. As a result of her work, over 1,500 people have been able to find treatment. She is passionate about helping people break free from alcohol or drug addiction and living a healthy life.

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