How EAPs Can Help with Money Worries and Mental Health

Blogs such as this one prove their worth time and again in offering usable tips for saving money and making your money work for you. The demands for such tips has been increasing because many people are quite understandably worried about money.

Worried about how we will provide for ourselves in the future, worried about withstanding any financial mishap which may come our way, or worried that we will have the finances to live the life we truly want to lead.

This worry, though, needs to be kept in check otherwise it can prove deleterious to our own mental health. Work by the Personal Finance Employee Education Foundation (PFEEF) has consistently found that concerns about financial well-being are one of the principal causes of stress among employees.

Such stress rarely comes in isolation but relates to a plethora of other problems, such as anxiety disorders, or alcohol and substance misuse.

It is to be welcomed therefore that in U.S. about 75% of companies offer some form of Employee Assistance Programs. This is far greater penetration than in the UK where it’s been estimated only about 7.5% of employees can access EAPs.

EAPs are designed to manage any work-life problems employees face. Employers don’t provide such programs out of the goodness of their hearts but out of recognition that people’s lives don’t exist in separate work and home realms. The problems people face in their lives are the same problems they bring into work with them every day.

That people experiencing such problems also require help regardless of the problem’s origin. Otherwise employers face absenteeism and a lack of productivity in the workplace. EAPs represent one of those rare occasions when a company’s pursuit of profit isn’t entirely at odds with employee well-being, a real instance of enlightened self-interest.

Access to such services is confidential by necessity, and increasingly they feature more free face-to-face and telephone counselling sessions following initial assessment. And as part of the recognition money-worries can play, financial counselling increasingly figures in a number of EAPs.

The availability of counselling and support from EAPs doesn’t necessarily mean the people who need it most are getting support. Mental illness of any kind from low-grade stresses about money to entrenched depressions still contains sufficient stigma to dissuade people from seeking help. Or indeed, accepting they may need help in the first place.

But should the perusing of personal finance blogs like this one cease to be a pleasure, but instead become a precursor to yet another bout of excessive stress, worry and soul searching, it may make sense to get support if it’s available as part of your company’s EAP. It’s a cliché but our health really is the greatest wealth and always worth investing in.

John McDiarmid is a consultant for a UK Employment Assistance Programmes Provider, Health Assured

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