Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) and Mental Health
As a long term Employee Assistance Program (EAP) provider, Oars Across the Waters strongly supports EAP as essential in Australia’s overall Mental Health Strategy.
The Employee Assistance Professionalals Association of Australasia (EAPAA) defines EAP as:
An Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is a work-based intervention program designed to enhance the emotional, mental and general psychological wellbeing of all employees and includes services for immediate family members. The aim is to provide preventive and proactive interventions for the early detection, identification and/or resolution of both work and personal problems that may adversely affect performance and wellbeing. These problems and issues may include, but are not limited to, relationships, couples counselling, health, trauma, substance abuse, gambling and other addictions, financial problems, depression, anxiety disorders, psychiatric disorders, communication problems, legal and coping with change. https://eapaa.org.au
In practical terms this means that for an employee whose employer provides an EAP, the employee will be entitled to a set number of free counselling sessions per year: the aim being that these brief intervention services will assist staff to continue to work to their best capacity, despite setbacks that may occur in their personal or working lives.
EAP is typically made available to an organisation’s staff and their immediate family (those living under the same roof). Those under the same roof can often be potentially at risk individuals, particularly the teenage or young adult children of employees.
The media has highlighted stories of delays in such young people having access to state funded, or other community resources and help lines. EAP providers have 24 hour a day, 7 day a week help lines. They are available and free to employees and their immediate family at all hours and can provide an effective brief intervention that can prevent and reduce the spiral into many long term depressive or anxiety states, with the potential related problems of self medication through alcohol and/or illicit drugs.
Through its early intervention capacity, EAP, in conjunction with other services, has a very important role to play in mental health strategies.
EAP services also provide proactive mental health strategies such as resilience training, relationship management training (personal and workplace), and leadership and management development that promotes flourishing workplaces and staff.
EAP providers focus on brief intervention strategies that provide immediate short term assistance that supports ongoing mental health.