When it comes to things that stress people out, work and money are tied right at the top of the list, according to a 2018 report by the American Psychological Association.
And as companies are starting to recognize the role they play in their employees' mental health, they are adding programs to help workers deal with that stress. So much so that Alison Green of Ask a Manager tells Grow that in the last two years, she's received lots of questions about mental health exercises — some of them a bit uncomfortable.
"[Companies] have taken the message that increased openness about mental health is a good thing — but their execution is terrible," she told Grow recently.
But some mental health resources are actually helpful and often go unused. Here are three actions you can take if you're looking for support.
An employment assistance program, or EAP, is a confidential service that provides employees with resources to help them address various problems in their work or personal lives. In the U.S., 77% of companies with more than 50 employees provide EAPs, according to a 2014 report by the Families and Work Institute.
"People can call the EAP line if they're struggling with finances, domestic issues, mental health — there's a whole range of things they can call EAP for," says Darcy Gruttadaro, director of the Center for Workplace Mental Health at the American Psychiatric Association Foundation.
To contact your workplace EAP, call the toll-free number provided by your employer. If you don't know it, ask your HR representative. You'll have to give them your name, address, and the name of your workplace. They will then offer counseling, direct you to a specialist, help you find online materials, or refer you to a support group.
"The EAP is a good referral source for many," Gruttadaro says.
Some companies offer to pay for wellness or mindfulness apps as a way to reduce or avoid stress. These may include online cognitive therapy or meditation and sleep apps.
CVS pays for its employees to use the sleep app Sleepio, for example, and General Electric subsidizes memberships for Headspace. "It's a little more on the prevention and mental wellness side," Gruttadaro says.
One-third of organizations with 5,000 employees or more have on-site or near-site clinics, according to a 2018 survey by Mercer, a human resources consulting firm. Basically half, 49%, of those clinics offer support for stress management like one-on-one sessions with a counselor, therapist, or psychiatrist. And many of the services are covered by your health benefits package.
One of the companies Gruttadaro has worked with hired one therapist for their on-site clinic who was "immediately" overwhelmed with appointment requests, so much so that they had to hire 12 more therapists. "That on-site clinics are making mental health, therapy, and counseling available is really important, and it's an important thing for employers to be paying more attention to," she says.
So, before you seek and perhaps pay for stress-management support outside of work, check to see if your employer offers any of these services, possibly for free.
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