The Economy Got You Down? Utilize Your Health Plan's Employee Assistance Program for Support
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The Economy Got You Down? Utilize Your Health Plan's Employee Assistance Program for Support 

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By Donald R. Martin

January 27, 2010 – Uncertainty is all around us. Usually a new year brings excitement and hope for the future, but sometime it brings despair. Are you worried about what the future will hold for you– for the economy, for our careers, for our lives, and the lives of those we love.

The volatile economy has focused our attention on financial uncertainty and highlighted its impact on many areas of our lives. Pessimistic “what if” thoughts often take over our thinking and optimism is harder to keep in focus. But uncertainty in life has always been with us – and it does not always mean misfortune.

Consider the surprise joys in your life – the unexpected friendships you have made, the challenges you never thought you would overcome, and the changes that proved the most beneficial.

Uncertainty’s random treasure and trauma weaves a life of unique experiences for each of us. It consistently delivers the unpredicted, but promises learning each time.

But when you are experiencing more than just a feeling of uncertainty and you feel that you need professional help, consider utilizing your employer-sponsored employee assistance program (EAP). EAPs have steadily grown, both in number and in proportion of the labor force served. According to The Families and Work Institute, 2008 National Study of Employers and estimated 65 percent of employers offer EAP services; that’s up from 56 percent ten years earlier.

Today, we understand that emotional health has an effect on one's physical health and ability to work productively, and that investing in the continued emotional health of employees is beneficial for the entire organization.

EAPs can assist you with a wide-range of emotional issues to get an employee back on track. Employees often think that an EAP is only utilized when having a major life crisis, such as a divorce or drug/alcohol issue. However, EAPs are available for individuals who are experiencing any problem that is affecting their life and work. Stress and uncertainty due to economic times, certainly fits into the above category.

Keep in mind that EAPs are a confidential, short-term solution to any behavioral issues. Most programs offer services 24/7 and offer qualified, licensed and experienced counselors to work with you directly.

Donald R. Martin is the clinical manger for the Employee Assistance Program at Optima Health, a Virginia-based health plan with more than 425,000 members, nationally-recognized for its quality, service and innovative programs. Optima Behavioral Health is one of Virginia’s largest and most experienced behavioral managed care organizations with 15 years of experience, 296,000 members and nearly 3,500 providers across the state.



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