How EAPs are addressing a workplace mental health crisis

NMG Benefits
17 March 2023
5 min read

Mental health can affect anyone in any way, shape, or form. It can show up in the simplest of forms, based on any circumstance, effecting productivity, and increasing absenteeism from work. Many of us hit that point of overwhelming stress, anxiety, burnout, and depression, not knowing how to find our way out of our headspace.

We’ve all been there, knowing we need to deliver, but finding the daily grind becoming something more than what we can deal with. Embarrassed or scared to acknowledge we need help or assistance, we keep our heads down and keep going hoping that in time things will change, but, they don’t. We find ourselves sinking deeper into despair as we no longer can deliver on the most basic of requests; even responding to an email can be an anxiety provoking task.

Post the covid-19 pandemic, mental illness rates have dramatically increased.  People are not only faced with work stressors, but grief and loss in their personal lives, while clouded by ongoing uncertainty. With the outbreak of the Russian-Ukrainian war, people again found themselves in a place of ongoing uncertainty, perched on the backdrop of high inflation and a world struggling through an ongoing post-pandemic recovery.

A key thing to remember is that mental health shows up in various ways, there is no ‘one size fit all’, and in the workplace there are ways you can find support knowing you aren’t alone.

Many organisations offer Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) which aid and support mental health and wellbeing.

Counselling - Confidential counselling services to help employees address personal and work-related issues that are affecting their mental and emotional health. Your EAP program is offered by an external service provider who keeps all disclosed information confidential from your employer. The services relating to your health and wellbeing are provided by licensed mental health professionals, including psychologists, therapists and/or social workers, depending on the services you need to best assist you. 

Stress Management - Your work EAP program often goes a step further by providing stress management resources to help employees manage stress and promote overall wellness. These services may include workshops, stress management tools, counselling specifically around stress management and online resources.

Financial and legal support - Often a key element of mental health is stress due to financial wellbeing. In a global market of uncertainty, financial stress is a reality for many people. Your EAP is able to further offer services to employees to access both legal and financial advice, to help navigate issues relating to your financial and legal wellbeing both in your personal life and at work. This includes advice on estate planning, debt counselling, through to divorce proceedings if these are the issues which are stressors to your everyday life.

Workplace support - EAPs offer support to employees to help them create a healthy work environment which promotes a healthy mental wellbeing. Often this service offers training and resources to managers in the workplace to assist them in identifying and addressing potential issues and stressors to employees in the workplace. EAPs often also provide programs to employers to support employee wellbeing, which can include flexible working arrangements, employee wellness programs and peer support programs.

The benefits of Employee Assistance Programs (EAPS) in supporting and tackling a growing workplace mental health crisis can be seen in a few ways.

Early intervention – a key benefit of an EAP program is that it is designed to assist early on, before an issue becomes more serious, resulting in possible job loss or for the individual to experience feelings of hopelessness and suicide. Early intervention offered by an EAP helps the problem get identified well before it can impact both your working and personal life.

Improved productivity and reduced absenteeism – Employers who invest in their employees by addressing workplace mental health concerns through an EAP , can help employees maintain productivity and overall wellbeing in the workplace. Which in turn increases job satisfaction, employee engagement, lowers absenteeism rates and therefore increases overall performance.

EAPs play a critical role in addressing workplace mental health issues by providing support to employees struggling with mental health issues and reducing the stigma around mental health, enabling, and encouraging employees seeking help and support.

It is key to note that mental health is a complex issue, and a comprehensive approach offered by an EAP can help address the root cause of the issue. Therefore, promoting mental health in the workplace is essential for the wellbeing of both the employee and the employer.

T&Cs apply. NMG Consultants and Actuaries (Pty) LTD is an authorised financial service provider FSP 12968


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