Home Don’t go it alone. Useful EAP resources to use during these uncertain times.

Don’t go it alone. Useful EAP resources to use during these uncertain times.

(April 2020) Hopefully you have an employee assistance program (EAP) as part of your best practice drug-free workplace program.  While an EAP is often thought of as your resource when an employee needs to be referred for a drug/alcohol assessment, your EAP can be used for so much more.  And now, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is more important than ever to remember (and remind your employees) of your EAP and its resources.

Stress is common
Not only is the idea of contracting or having a loved one contract COVID-19 worrisome, but the precautions being taken to slow the spread have consequences that can create stress and trigger boatloads of emotions. For instance

  • balancing working from home while homeschooling kids
  • adjusting to changes in daily routines
  • worrying about job and financial stability
  • struggling to care for elderly family members
  • feeling lonely and disappointed as activities are canceled
  • feeling isolated as we’re encouraged to practice social isolation

These uncertain times have left many wondering when life will return to normal and what “normal” will end up looking like.

Recovery and substance misuse risks
And for people in recovery, the strain could be even greater.  Addiction has been labeled a disease of isolation, and many individuals recovering from addiction are finding that the support systems they’ve established to manage their disease are unavailable or changing. This creates a concerning situation since stress, depression and anxiety are often underlying causes of substance misuse and can trigger a setback for those in recovery.

Many of us are looking for new ways to manage these uncomfortable emotions.  Sadly, some of those coping mechanisms may not be the healthiest.  Alcohol sales have risen double digits compared to this time last year, and, if social media feeds are any indication, a lot of people are using alcohol to self-medicate and entertain themselves through these uncertain times.

EAPs to the rescue
By their nature, EAPs are designed to alleviate workplace issues due to mental health, substance use disorders, personal problems and other workplace-impacting issues.  While the pandemic is exasperating people’s concerns, many of these issues occur during non-pandemic times. Therefore, EAPs are a great resource for your employees to turn to.  Here are some examples of EAP resources to consider sharing with your employees:

  • Financial Consultation – Money is easy to stress about, but there are resources available to help manage the unknown such as assistance with reworking a budget, avoiding eviction and navigating conversations with bill collectors.
  • Legal Consultation – Part of the response to COVID-19 has included new legislation, orders and guidelines issued by local, state and federal authorities. EAPs can provide resources and professions to help employees understand what these changes mean and guidance when talking with banks, landlords, credit card companies and other institutions.
  • Daily Resources – Sometimes the basic resources are the most important and the hardest to ask for help on. EAPS can help employees meet immediate needs like food resources, elder care for loved ones, and options for experiencing the outdoors while social distancing.
  • Mental Health Support – Whether looking for health and wellness tips, relationship advice or a counselor to talk with over telehealth, your EAP will have ways to connect your employees with the needed resources.
  • Someone to talk to 24/7– In addition to getting support for any of the topics listed above, most EAPs have staff available at all hours of the day or night to talk to and support your employees through difficult times.

Encouragement is key
Yet, even if people want help, some may be reluctant to ask for it.  Others may feel so overwhelmed that they don’t know what help they need.  It is important to make it as easy as possible for your employees to reach out for help. For consideration,

  • Forward your EAPs contact information to your employees, including any website log-in and passwords. If employees have to go searching for this information, they are less likely to turn to your EAP for help.
  • Provide specific suggestions on the type of subject matter expertise people can get from your EAP. Specific examples may help employees realize that is an issue they need an EAP’s help with.
  • Share about your experiences with your EAP, e.g., what you asked for, response time, type of information received. Knowing what to expect when reaching out to your EAP can reduce an employee’s anxiety about asking for help.
  • Pass along any informational tips or resources you receive from your EAP.

As everyone struggles to find their footing during these uncertain times, it’s good to know there are resources to turn to for help and support when needed.  And utilizing this assistance can not only help your employees as they work through this pandemic but can help them stay healthy and productive employees now and long after the pandemic is over.

Don’t have an EAP?  Give us a call, and we can help get you connected to this valuable service.