Employee Assistance Programs are a great way to not only address and manage mental health issues, but also to prevent them.
Not everyone has the means to see a private psychologist, but an employee assistance program (or EAP) service doesn’t require a doctor’s referral, is free of charge and is always available. EAPs provide a valuable service to employees and the wider community. Having access to a qualified psychologist 24 hours every day of the year makes a big difference to thousands of Australians every year.
EAPs Help Manage Mental Health Illness
Even before the pandemic, mental health issues were estimated to cost up to $60 billion annually. Around 8 million working days were lost every year to poor mental health. The impact of lockdowns, as well as the stress and uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, is causing an increase in Australians suffering from poor mental health.
Getting an appointment with a psychologist in a public or private clinic is difficult. The Australian Psychological Society reported in 2022 that one in three psychologists could not take on new clients. Before the pandemic, only one in 100 psychologists couldn’t take on new clients. The wait times are often three or more months.
There are long waiting lists at psychology clinics all over the country for adult and children patients, but EAPs are helping fill the gap. PeopleSense employs registered clinical psychologists to conduct sessions, so clients can feel reassured that they’re receiving expert advice.
It’s not always the worker that needs access to the program. It may be their partner or child that needs help. When organisations offer an EAP that includes immediate family members, it takes the pressure off their workers. They can feel reassured that their loved one is getting the professional support they need rather than sitting on a long waiting list for a first appointment.
Using EAPs to Prevent Poor Mental Health
The benefit of an EAP is that it’s not just reactive. When a person observes signs that they or a family member may be starting to struggle, they can reach out for help.
A worker may realise that they’re not coping with stress as well as they would like. The stress may be brought on by personal or work issues, or a combination. By contacting Altius Group, they can discuss strategies that can reduce their stress levels before it takes its toll on their mental health.
Most parents struggle with parenting issues at some point while bringing up their children. It can be hard to know what to do or say to help a teenage child. By making contact with a psychologist, a parent can ask for advice or find out about other services. The advice can help open the lines of communication between parent and child.
Family problems can cause lost productivity and workers needing time off work through carer’s leave. If the advice is available in the early stages, it may prevent a problem from escalating. This can avoid a worker needing to take extended leave or resigning to cope with a difficult home life.
Sleep difficulties can progress into poor mental health. If a worker gains advice on how to improve their sleep, they may avoid the impact it has on their mental health. A psychologist can help uncover the reason why their quality of sleep has deteriorated and help them fix it.
Career transition, progression and organisational change can cause stress and anxiety. Workers feel supported when they can speak to a professional confidentially about their career. Advice about how to deal with a colleague can mean the difference between a worker resigning and staying on in the organisation.
Trauma and grief affects thousands of Australian workers every year. Being able to speak to a psychologist can make it a little easier to deal with the hurt they’re feeling and to cope with the next stage of their life.
EAPs Help Managers Support Workers
Not all managers know how to help a staff member who has disclosed that they’re suffering from poor mental health. A supervisor or manager may not know what to say or do to help their worker. By contacting the organisation’s EAP provider, they can have their questions answered and feel more confident in dealing with the issues they face.
Managers who deal with staff on a daily basis should remind staff of the availability of EAP and to make contact if they have any concerns.
Employee assistance programs are a great way to ensure your employees are supported throughout any personal or work-related issues that they may experience. Not only can psychological support be accessed to treat any mental health issues, it can also be accessed to prevent escalation. Contact us online or call 1800 258 487 today for more information on our EAP offering.