In 1992 Robert Mack lost his job at General Dynamic. Afterwards, he walked back into the room, pulled out a gun and shot both the labor relations representative and his supervisor. Both men died and Robert Mack is now in prison for double murder.

Robert was a 25-year employee of General Dynamic. He suffered from depression, psychotic breaks and had a drug addiction. Both counseling and rehab options were offered for all employees through an EAP for 17 of the 25 years Robert worked there. When asked why he didn’t reach out for help, Robert said he didn’t know there were any benefits was available.

Of all benefits offered to employees, Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) are perhaps the most underused benefit. For employees who experience either personal or professional stress, an EAP can be a literal lifesaver. Unfortunately, most people who need them either don’t know they are available or don’t know how to use them.

Most EAP programs offer a variety of counseling and therapy options, and you don’t have to bear your soul to your boss to take advantage of them. Everyone has struggles from time to time. Whether you’re overwhelmed with job stress, going through marital issues, family struggles, or if you have an unhealthy relationship with drugs or alcohol, EAP benefits can offer you the lifeline you’ve been looking for.

  1. Using your EAP benefits is completely confidential.

If your company offers EAP benefits through your insurance provider, you don’t have to talk to anyone at work about going to counseling. You don’t have to reach out to your boss or supervisor for help. You don’t need permission or approval and there are no reports that come back to your company, and no external record of you even using the EAP.  

  1. It’s not just for work stress.

An EAP is not just for cops or doctors or lawyers who typically have high-stress positions at work. It’s for everyone from the janitor to the CEO. After all, all of us have similar on and off the job struggles, right? An EAP typically covers a wide range of problems including: financial problems, marital issues, raising children or step-children, blended families, sick kids, cancer, stress-related illness, parents with Alzheimer’s, grief from death or loss, at-work or line of duty deaths, gambling problems, money worries, substance abuse, eating disorders, job burnout, workplace conflicts, depression, or suicidal thoughts.

  1. It’s not therapy at work.

Your EAP program partners with professionals in the area to provide benefits from board-certified therapists at their office or over the phone. While therapists can meet you at work, EAP is not therapy that’s offered haphazardly in the breakroom or an unused conference room. These sessions are genuine services offered by a certified professional in their regular office.

  1. Keep the phone number handy.

You never know when you might need to take advantage of your EAP benefits. New employee orientation will typically cover your EAP benefits. In addition, your benefits packet will include a pamphlet or phone number. Make a note, write it down, and put it in your phone so you have it when you need it.

The combination of stress at home and stress at work can be overwhelming and unmanageable. Your company benefits when you are clear-headed, relaxed, and productive. That’s why most employers offer an EAP so they can help their employees be more successful. Research your own company benefits to understand how your EAP works. Keep the phone number handy for yourself or to help a coworker find options available to them when life happens.

Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) are perhaps the most underused benefit offered to many employees. For employees who experience either personal or professional stress, an EAP can be a literal lifesaver. Unfortunately, most people who need them either don’t know they are available or don’t know how to use them.