Spotlight on Benefits: Employee Assistance Program

Posted: July 13, 2004 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Jeremy Lasich

In today’s fast-paced world, juggling work and personal life can feel overwhelming. Fortunately for George Mason employees, they have somewhere to turn—the Employee Assistance Program (EAP). All health plans offered to Mason employees and their dependents have EAPs, which help resolve personal problems before they negatively affect health, relationships with others, or job performance.

Included are up to four confidential sessions at no charge for such services as marital and family problems, child or adult care issues, alcohol and/or drug abuse, work-family balance, depression and anxiety, work-related concerns, financial or legal problems, career transition issues, and personal growth and development. The program is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

The EAP provides five basic services:

  • Education: EAPs commonly provide education and prevention programs on stress, substance abuse, and illnesses such as depression and anxiety.
  • Individual assessment: Whether it’s stress at home or on the job, or concerns about a family member, EAP counselors provide screening, assessment, and support. By addressing problems early, the EAP aims to help prevent small problems from becoming overwhelming, costly, and destructive. In addition to listening and talking about a problem, EAPs will often use a short paper-and-pencil test to help identify and clarify symptoms of particular problems such as depression or anxiety. This enables the EAP to accurately assess the problem and provide the help that is indicated.
  • Short-term counseling: Many stress-related problems or concerns about a loved one do not require long-term counseling. The EAP is designed to provide objective short-term counseling–to simply listen, assist in problem solving, or identify new ways to cope with common, but sometimes painful, problems. In general, EAPs have expertise in stress reduction counseling, crisis and conflict resolution, and substance abuse.
  • Referral: It is difficult to know where to turn when personal problems arise. The EAP keeps abreast of the best providers in the employee’s area, facilitating the referral and guiding the family through the treatment process.
  • Support: There are no quick fixes for some problems. Individuals recovering from alcoholism, depression, or the loss of a loved one may require ongoing supportive counseling with the EAP or a designated professional. The EAPs work with the employee to develop and coordinate a support plan.

Telephone consultation and EAP sessions with a counselor are provided to the employee at no cost. Occasionally, further counseling, resources, or specialized treatment may involve additional costs. The EAP counselors ensure they research the most appropriate and affordable resources to help meet the employee’s needs.

For more information, visit the Department of Human Resource Management web site.

Write to at