Employees working through mental health conditions rarely project their moods in ways that invite employers to offer support. Unlike other health problems, employees with depression don’t exhibit a noticeable limp, cough or other visual symptom. Often, this type of condition is noticeable only when an employee’s output is reduced or they have a problem focusing.

When this situation arises, many employers know that they should reach out to their employee to offer assistance, but often don’t know where to start. You may have found yourself on the receiving end of a phone call from a client when this issue has arisen in their workforce.

Also see: "More than just a chair."

Next time this happens, promote the natural partnership that exists between a disability carrier and your client’s employee assistance program. Reinforcing a simple three-step approach can help your clients connect employees working through a mental health condition with the assistance they need.

1) Make the connection between disability carriers and EAP vendors

Some disability carriers have resources and experts that can help an employer look at their workforce holistically and provide a program-level approach to addressing health issues, such as mental health conditions. As part of this model, consultants from a disability carrier not only provide individualized support, but also connect employees with available employer-sponsored benefits — such as an EAP.

In addition to recommending an employee connect with the EAP for treatment and support, consultants will check back with the employee to ensure they’ve followed through.

2) Relay the importance of integration

There are numerous benefits for employees who connect with their EAP. Many don’t realize that three to six visits for treatment are often covered by this service for assistance with concerns such as job stress, family issues, alcohol and substance abuse.

However, EAPs may not be able to address workplace issues specific to that employee or organization. The crucial connection to worksite-specific assistance is through a disability consultant who can glean insights into how the employee’s work environment may be impacting his or her mental health. This understanding may be a vital factor in keeping an employee at work, avoiding a disability leave or successfully returning to work if they are currently out on leave.

3) Encourage regular EAP reminders to employees

As a manager, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve reminded my own employees about using our EAP and they’ve responded with, “Oh yeah …” This is unfortunate, because active EAPs are one of the most effective ways to support an employee who is dealing with a mental health issue, such as depression.

Help your clients overcome these obstacles by reminding them to build awareness of their company’s EAP service and describing how individuals can access these benefits. Explaining this to employees during their initial orientation will likely not be enough, so I encourage you to work this into other wellness reminders.

EAPs can be a beneficial resource for employees dealing with mental health issues — if they know they can access it. By encouraging integration with your client’s disability carrier, you can help ensure your clients will be on their way to a healthier, more productive employee population.  

Daily, second vice president of clinical and vocational services, oversees the clinical and return-to-work staff, and works closely with The Standard’s medical director, physician staff and consultants.

The Standard is a marketing name for StanCorp Financial Group, Inc. and subsidiaries. Insurance products are offered by Standard Insurance Company of 1100 SW Sixth Avenue, Portland, Oregon, in all states except New York, where insurance products are offered by The Standard Life Insurance Company of New York of 360 Hamilton Avenue, Suite 210, White Plains, New York. Product features and availability vary by state and company, and are solely the responsibility of each subsidiary. Each company is solely responsible for its own financial condition. Standard Insurance Company is licensed to solicit insurance business in all states except New York. The Standard Life Insurance Company of New York is licensed to solicit insurance business in only the state of New York.

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