Monday, December 29, 2014

Employee Assistance Plans Are For Real

Does your company have an Employee Assistance Plan (EAP)? Have you avoided making use of it because you're sure your HR department will tell your boss you're getting therapy? Are you convinced the EAP will directly rat you out to your boss about the exact problem for which you are seeking help?

That's not how EAPs work. They are completely, 100% private. The way you contact them is private. The provider does not even put your name on a file folder. You don't necessarily have to give your name to the provider. Even in these days of medical offices computerizing their files, the EAP provider is prohibited from listing your name anywhere. Therefore there are no records that can get hacked, or that can accidentally or on purpose be sent to your employer.

The other great thing about EAPs is that they are free. In the past, your medical insurance might have stingy about the number of mental health therapy visits you're allowed and reimbursed those visits at a lower percentage than other medical services. Although the ACA is changing this, the trend is for people to pay more and more in co-pays. Not EAP counseling. It's free. If you obtain therapy through an Employee Assistance Plan, you pay nothing. Want to quit smoking? Access your company's EAP. Want to cut down on your drinking, or your legal or illegal drug use? Use the company EAP. Want a shoulder to cry on, or someone who'll listen calmly as you recite your fears? The EAP provider is your answer.

Of course you don't want to ask HR about the details of the company EAP when you need it, so make a point of asking when you first start working there. Learn enough about how their Employee Assistance Plan operates to be absolutely sure it is fully confidential.

I never knew the full range of benefits available in an EAP until after I didn't have access to one. Free services I could have used! Free as in free. Think about it.


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