Find a helping hand – at work

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Feeling stressed or depressed? Are you surrounded by grief or anxiety? If your employer offers an Employee Assistance Program, you have free and confidential help available for that, without copays or deductibles.

Such programs also can provide an understanding therapist to help sort out job issues, offer strategies to manage anger, or just provides someone who can help you examine important issues, including whether to get married now, or have kids.

What is an Employee Assistance Program?
Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs), of course, help with heavy-duty issues of serious addictions or significant mental illnesses. But an unfortunate secret surrounds Employee Assistance Programs: If only people realized they could ask for help, they could solve many more problems, says Dave Welscher, manager of the St. Elizabeth Employee Assistance Program.

When should I visit an EAP?
Some people use EAPs to wrestle with questions about whether to change careers, or move to another part of the country.

Others make contact about their next phase of life: High schoolers wondering what to do as adults; college students launching into the workforce; older adults fearful ““ or hopeful ““ about what their retirement might bring.

“The vast majority of clients we see are, for lack of a better term, normal people like you and I,” Welscher says. “They’re just in either a tough spot or could use a little, pardon the pun, assistance.”

Is EAP right for me?
If you aren’t sure if you have an Employee Assistance Program, and who in your household it covers, ask your human resources department. Most programs offers broad ranges of ways they can help. Many, like the St. Elizabeth Employee Assistance Program, offer services to everyone living in the household. St. Elizabeth’s program serves about 70 Northern Kentucky employers.

Employee Assistance is a powerful benefit employers offer to help employees keep their lives in balance, Welscher says.

“We definitely get people who just want to come in because they need a neutral listener to talk about something that’s bothering them, and they know they’ll get an unbiased, honest and educated opinion or thoughts on those things. And they find it really helpful.”

“There’s really no other relationship in your life where that person, for a solid hour, does nothing but listen to you, and think, say or do everything they can to be helpful. With no strings attached,” he says. “That doesn’t exist anywhere else.”