EAPs are the answer to the current mental health crisis
The employee assistance industry in the UK wholly recognises that there is pressure on day-to-day core services being delivered by NHS mental health trusts, as outlined in The Guardian recently. And with nine out of ten mental health trusts admitting that they are not managing demand or planning for currently unmet need, it isn’t long until the crisis within our mental health services becomes critical.
A solution to this impending mental health crisis is to support individuals who have access to an employee assistance programme (EAP) via their employer to access this service and make use of its expertise if they’re struggling with a mental health issue. UK EAPA estimates that more than half the working population currently have access to an EAP but that significantly fewer are taking advantage of the accessible, professional, independent and confidential mental health support that is available, 24-hours a day, 365 days a year.
EAPs have played a significant role in supporting the health of the nation since they were introduced to the UK in the late 1980s. Since this time they have demonstrated their effectiveness to employers when it comes to supporting and promoting employee health and wellbeing and reducing levels of psychological distress in the workplace. Now more than ever the industry recognises the need to increase awareness of EAPs and the vital role they can play in alleviating some of the pressure on NHS mental health services.
Research undertaken by the UK EAPA in partnership with CORE IMS (2012) reviewed the outcomes of more than 28,000 EAP counselling interventions and showed that EAPs were effective in providing expedited treatment for individuals in mental distress; on average the time from initial contact to first appointment was just nine days) in 92% of cases. The vast majority (88%) of clients presenting to EAPs also scored above the clinical cut-off level, indicating their needs are similar to those presenting to NHS outpatient mental health services.
EAPs are one of the quickest ways for people who are struggling with a wide range of issues to access counselling and related support services. The industry has established stringent standards of professional practice and delivery and is getting people back to work quickly, minimising their psychological distress.
When there is such a demand on NHS mental health services, our role in supporting employees to identify and resolve personal problems that are affecting their mental health and may be impacting (or have the potential to) impact on job performance and the wider workplace is more important than ever. We are committed to working with the NHS, government and the mental health community to see that EAPs are playing their role in this crisis and that ultimately, the needs of the individuals affected by mental health, are met quickly, professionally and for the long term.