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EAPs, Managing Mental Health And Substance Abuse At The Workplace

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A very high percentage of workers conceal their personal addiction problems, owing to the stigma that it carries and the huge challenges it poses. Workers addiction to drug and alcohol ranks amongst the top ten workplace disabilities in the country. The same applies to workers coping with stress, pressure, anxiety and tension and you have two areas of worry that is, together costing the American industry a huge loss in terms of lost workdays and revenue.

It is estimated that together both caused the American industries a loss of $300 billion in a year, through absenteeism, less turnover, accidents, workers compensation and other areas that get impacted owing to these factors.
Almost 75 percent of drug users are employed and drug and alcohol abuse costs the industry around $100 billion each year. Moreover, workers who use drugs cost employers about twice as much in medical and workers' compensation claims as their drug-free counterparts. Workers, who are addicted to alcohol, are prone to absenteeism and tardiness and lead to 500 million lost workdays per year.

Comprehending the seriousness of this matter many companies have employee assistance programs (EAPs) that are designed and intended to help employees deal with their personal problems and eliminate or at least minimize the adverse effects their addictions and problems were having on their work performance, health and well being.

The EAPs are designed for employees and their household members to help them manage sensitive issues in their personal lives. EAP counselors characteristically provide assessment, support, and referrals to additional resources such as counselors for a limited number of program-paid counseling sessions. The issues for which EAPs provide support vary, but examples include, mental health, such as depression, schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, substance abuse, domestic abuse, workplace problems, and challenges that occur in their daily lives or the lives of family members.

Not Many Takers For EAPs

Sadly, since these diseases and abuse problems carry a social stigma, most workers prefer to conceal them owing to which they do not avail of the opportunity provided to them through EAPs. Companies irrespective of size and number of employees face this problem and offer EAPs. In fact EAPs have been prevalent at the workplace since the 1970s, but workers do not take maximum advantage of it.

It is strongly recommended that understanding that you have a problem and want to remedy it is half the battle won, so think of EAPs as a dental or a medical program and take utmost advantage of what could be a life changing opportunity.

Employers have a definite and positive reason for implementing and offering EAPs. It is reported that for every dollar invested in EAP an employer recoups any amount between $5 and $16. Moreover, it is seen that there was 66 percent decline in absenteeism after alcohol abusers were recognized and provided appropriate treatment. There was a 33 percent decline in use of sickness benefits, whereas for work related accidents, the percentage almost doubled to 65
percent. Compensation claims also went down by almost a third.

Confidentiality Rules Are In Place, So Don’t Miss Out

Workers, who are afraid that if their names are exposed, they will suffer loss of face and that their image will take a beating and perhaps they could be ostracized by their colleagues, need not be so apprehensive. They should know that it is a problem that needs to be addressed, both for them and the company. Moreover, names are kept confidential and the EAP reveals only the number of employees utilizing the services, not their names.

Moreover, in extreme cases, EAPs will suggest additional counseling and you could get treated on a long term basis. Employers, normally, unless they share a personal rapport with the employee, do not ask individuals if they have used EAPs at any time. Strict confidentiality rules are in place, mandated by state and federal laws. Confidentiality is maintained in accordance with privacy laws and ethical standards.
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