Support system

Employees often seek assistance for variety of problems

Posted: Monday, June 12, 2006

No one understands the plight of everyday workers better than employee assistance specialists. These workers are trained to provide compassionate and tangible solutions to problems ranging from relationships to legal issues and everything in between by putting them in contact with specialists in these areas. For example, if an employee needs emotional assistance in dealing with a death in the family, an EAP specialist may refer them to a counselor in their area.

While most companies offer employee assistance programs as part of their benefits package, some workers may not realize all that these programs entail.

Here is a list of the 10 most common employee assistance calls, according to Richard Chaifetz, CEO of ComPsych Corp., a Chicago-based provider of EAPs and behavioral health, work-life, wellness and crisis intervention services.

1. Depression: "By far, the most prevalent reason for EAP calls, an employee will call to discuss his or her depression and schedule an appointment with a counselor."

2. Relationships: Chaifetz says that while married employees are the most likely to request counseling sessions, unmarried couples request therapy as well.

3. Stress and/or anxiety: "Often related to work pressures or family responsibilities, stress and anxiety are common reasons for employee calls."

4. Parenting: As any parent knows, there are a range of issues that can arise when raising children. Chaifetz says workers call in requesting to speak to a counselor or schedule an appointment for their child on issues such as bullying and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

5. Work: "Interpersonal relationship problems at work often are a cause of significant stress and distraction," he says. "These calls can be initiated by the employee or by a manager in the case of a performance issue or suspected potential for violence."

6. Legal issues: If you or your spouse is not a lawyer, it may be hard to decipher any legal issues that can arise, such as creating a will or child custody battles.

7. Child and elder care: "Employees call to request referrals for care facilities and receive information on pricing, staff-to-child or staff-to-patient ratio, availability and location," explains Chaifetz. "Information on in-home care providers is available as well."

8. Finances: Whether its debt, credit problems or questions about mortgages and taxes, an EAP specialist can provide guidance on who to contact and how to proceed.

9. Drugs and alcohol: "Employees call to request counseling and treatment, which may be in inpatient or outpatient, depending upon the circumstances," he says. "Calls related to drugs and alcohol also may be initiated by a manager in the case of suspected substance abuse."

10. Miscellaneous: Wellness, health care issues and even concierge services, such as repair services, are also dealt with by these professionals.

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