The long dark dreary winters are enough to affect us all. Sprinkle into the mix a virus that has kept us inside and feeling ever more isolated from friends, family and our community makes the winter blues even more challenging. Here in the Pacific Northwest, if we are lucky enough to have the sunshine grace us during the day it will set at 4:30 pm during the darkest of days. The change in the season may impact you or those around you, with either the ‘Winter Blues’ or something more known as Seasonal Affective Disorder.
Seasonal Affective Disorder is defined by the Mayo Clinic as:
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that’s related to changes in seasons — SAD begins and ends at about the same time every year. If you’re like most people with SAD, your symptoms start in the fall and continue into the winter months, sapping your energy and making you feel moody. These symptoms often resolve during the spring and summer months. Less often, SAD causes depression in the spring or early summer and resolves during the fall or winter months.
Being affected by SAD, there are resources available to help you and your team that are often benefits that your company may have available included within your medical coverage offering or in a stand-alone plan. These benefits are called an EAP, which stands for Employee Assistance Program.
EAPs are usually free and confidential programs designed to promote health, safety, and well-being. Some EAPs cover immediate family members living in the home that are not covered by the medical plan, check your plan for details. They often support a wide range of issues such as depression, stress, addictions, anger, parenting, relationships, and grief and loss. Some EAPs have additional services like limited legal advice, financial services, childcare services, adult and elder care services, and more. Employee Assistance Programs can vary in size, service coverage, and benefits.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, job-related stress is the nation’s leading workplace health problem and productivity losses from absenteeism related to stress and similar triggers cost employers $225.8 billion each year. Many companies offer EAPs but according to the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) have less than a 10% utilization in a study in 2019, pre-pandemic.
If your company offers an EAP that accompanies a medical plan or if it is with a stand-alone vendor, you can begin to utilize benefits either by phone call or online. Each plan is different and you should be able to receive plan details from the company contact that administers benefits or your Human Resources representative and ask for the Employee Assistance Program phone number.
The Employee Assistance Professionals Association (EAPA) is the world’s largest, oldest, and most respected membership organization for employee assistance professionals with members spanning 40 countries around the world. According to the EAPA guidelines, EAPs must have written policies ensuring client confidentiality, an adequate number of trained employee assistance professionals, and formal procedures for following up with or monitoring people who use the EAP.
Don’t let the winter doldrums continue to affect you or your employees any longer. Implementing an Employee Assistance Program is a great benefit for both the employee and for the business. If you would like more information about the benefits of these benefits, please Contact Us and we can help you determine what solution would work best for your business. Call us today at (800) 317-1738 x14.