Innovations Enhance Outcomes: Employee Assistance Programs

DMEC Staff@Work

Tell Me Again Your EAP Does What?

Employee Assistance ProgramsBy Michael Lacroix, PhD

Assoc. Medical Director, The
Hartford Absence & Disability

By Jennifer Platz, LMHC

Director, The Hartford
Absence & Disability

Employee assistance programs (EAPs) trace their origins to the alcohol abuse programs of the 1930s. They were expanded in the 1980s, when cutbacks to public mental health services led some defunded programs to team up with private industry. Employees did not immediately jump on the bandwagon, partly out of concerns with confidentiality as well as a lack of awareness of these programs.

But drug and alcohol abuse are not the only factors that negatively impact employee performance. As EAPs expanded, it became clear that broader behavioral health issues often impacted the workplace: depression, anxiety, and stress. The leading cause of disability worldwide is now depression.1 Employees accepted that the walls of confidentiality could hold firm and that the secrets told to EAP providers were not shared with employers. Employers appreciated the value of having employees’ problems dealt with outside the human resources/performance management corridor. In many cases, the presenting “diagnoses” were not at clinical levels and could be resolved successfully in three to eight sessions, resulting in happier, more productive employees.

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