With the pandemic continuing to claim lives and disrupt employees at home and at work, the list of stressors has grown to include balancing childcare, schooling, return to work, financial problems, family health and disruptions of routines.

The results of all this are staggering. Since the start of the pandemic, overall mental illness, suicidal risk, drug and alcohol issues and depression are all surging.

We have seen a dramatic increase in the severity of our EAP cases. And as we begin to enter into fall and the winter months, the behavioral health outlook is indeed cause for concern. But proactive employers can help employees navigate the mental health issues that loom ahead.

It’s more important than ever for employers to be aware of the potential for mental health issues such as depression, stress, and suicide, and to promote mental health help and suicide prevention resources to employees. While we are pleased to report that the ESI employee assistance utilization rates are more than three times higher than the industry average, we all need to do more, if we are going to effectively deal with the current behavioral health crisis.

Please remind your employees of the free counseling services and other benefits available to your employees through their EAP. We are here for you.

Here are other steps you can take:

Remind and encourage your employees to use their EAP benefits. Promote EAP benefit availability at staff meetings. Distribute EAP brochures, videos, and table tents to promote mental health services available through the EAP. Remind and train your supervisors and managers about the availability of services, and how to encourage employees they supervise to call the EAP for help.

Promote the counseling benefits. The counseling we provide to your employees is superior in every way. All incoming calls are fielded by highly experienced Master and PhD-level counselors, not operators, so that we can provide in-the-moment service and crisis assistance, when needed, and manage all issues through to resolution. Learn why the counseling services we offer deliver better results, better outcomes, and more than 98% employee satisfaction.

Promote the EAP online self-help center and app, which includes Covid-19 resources, as well as more than 25,000 articles, videos, tutorials, trainings and tools on everything from mental and physical health issues, to personal finances, family matters, and consumer rights. Child and elder care resource locators are particularly popular resources. The pandemic continues to impact many facets of employees’ lives and our vetted resources provide invaluable information.

Utilize the Employee Development Benefits. We are the only EAP that has expanded benefits to include a comprehensive employee development coaching and training program. These benefits can improve overall productivity and engagement.

The Peak Performance Employee Coaching Program bolsters productivity and engagement by helping your employees improve their personal and professional lives. It includes 18 coaching programs and thousands of online resources. Coaching programs include opportunities to improve supervisory and business skills, personal finance, credit score, debt resolution and assist with home purchases. In addition, certified wellness coaches help employees improve their overall health status.

We also recommend that you encourage employees to utilize the ESI EAP Online Training Center. With so many employees working remotely, this benefit provides every employee the opportunity to improve and be more effective at home and at work. The center includes over 8,000 training videos. Subjects include dealing with the coronavirus, improving communication skills, developing computer skills, resolving interpersonal relationship issues, and hundreds more.

These are, indeed, difficult times. We sincerely believe that now, more than ever, your EAP is a critical employee benefit. All of us at ESI want to do all that we can to help you and your employees, not only deal with behavioral health issues the pandemic has caused, but also to provide benefits and services to improve employee productivity and engagement.

Kathleen Jahnke, MS, LMHC, NCCC | Senior Vice President, Chief Clinical Officer

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