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employee-assistance-programs-mental-health.jpgMental health conditions can cause as many — or more — lost work days and productivity as other chronic health conditions do, and more than half of Americans with a mental health issue don’t receive treatment, according to a report by Mental Health America. More employers are trying to fight the problem by providing employee assistance programs (EAPs) that offer screenings, counseling and therapy for employees suffering from depression, alcohol abuse and other mental health concerns.

The following articles offer insight into how EAPs can support employee wellbeing and describe the best ways of implementing these programs.

EAPs Can Improve Mental Health and Employee Productivity

“An employee assistance program (EAP) with the proper construct and focus is still the most effective tool to impact the emotional wellbeing and productivity of employees while, at the same time, lowering health care costs. Recent research by CuraLinc Healthcare shows certain EAP models can facilitate meaningful and lasting behavior change that leads to decreased absenteeism, increased productivity, and improved health outcomes for employees who present with depression and alcohol abuse. … EAPs provide support, care and advocacy for employees suffering from depression. … 90.1 percent of participants with depression showed significant (55.7 percent) or moderate (34.4 percent) improvement after using the EAP. … EAPs reduce unscheduled employee absences. The average time away from work that was caused by the employee’s mental or emotional health concern(s) decreased by 6.8 hours after using the EAP.” — Read more at BenefitsPro

Mix EAPs With Other Products to Improve Employee Utilization

“[E]mployers have attempted for years to increase EAP utilization. One way they are finding that can happen is by bundling additional services with an EAP. By adding additional programs that fall under the work-life umbrella, such as elder and child care, to an EAP, utilization increased by up to 38%, according to EAP provider Optum. Bundling additional products, including wellness coaching, identity theft, financial planning and stress programs, has led to utilization rates of more than 25%, according to Optum. … The rebranding is important because EAPs have had a ‘negative stigma,’ [says Zachary J. Meyer, SVP of global wellbeing, employee assistance and work life services at Optum.] ‘Traditional uses were around mental health and substance abuse,’ Meyer says. ‘People don’t want to admit they have [a] problem and don’t want their employer to know.’ ” — Read more at Employee Benefit News

Mental Health Becoming Normal Part of Wellness Programs

“Most companies continue to spend money on ‘wellness’ or ‘wellbeing programs,’ and employees expect them to do so. In fact, 83% of companies in a CEB poll say they now offer emotional and/or mental wellbeing programs, which underpins how it’s become such a common part of the ‘wellbeing portfolio.’ … Benefits teams can improve the relevance of [their] wellbeing program by collecting and analyzing employee mental health data (e.g., insurance claims) and other employee data (e.g., focus groups, surveys) to identify needs specific to their own workforce. Companies can see up to a 3% boost in employee performance by helping address employees’ emotional needs through the right total rewards package, according to CEB analysis. And addressing emotional needs has a particular impact on employees in entry and mid-level roles. … To address the low usage rate of EAPs, benefits teams should improve their communications to encourage more employees take advantage of the benefits available to them.” — Read more at CEB


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