EAP Corner

Understanding Issues Affecting Employees

By Susan Milner, EAP Administrator

Mental disorders are common in the United States, with more than one in four adults experiencing some form of mental illness or substance abuse. Often times those situations are mild, but approximately 14% of our population has moderate or severe mental illness. In terms of the workplace, three of the most common mental illnesses affecting workers in America today are anxiety, depression and eating disorders. Unfortunately, only a small number of people in our country who are affected by a form of mental health disorder ever receive treatment.

Why? Reasons people don’t seek treatment include denial, lack of insurance, confidentiality, and a sense of shame around the problems they are facing. Many times the person thinks he/she can handle the problem on his/her own or that it will get better without having to make any changes in his/her life. People often don’t access services because they are too busy trying to manage their busy lives and feel overwhelmed at having one more thing to do. Sometimes they turn to forms of substances such as drugs and alcohol to self-medicate, which usually results in a worsening of the problem.

Oftentimes employees dealing with stress, depression, anxiety or any other type of mood disorder will avoid seeking treatment because they are fearful of how it might affect their job. This can be readily addressed through an EAP because the services are free and confidential. Companies that offer an Employee Assistance Program can greatly impact the lives of their employees and their families by providing the link to appropriate
treatment with trained professionals. Considering that psychological problems account for 61% of absences from work each year, not to mention a high percentage (65-85%) of employee terminations, it is evident that intervention through EAP services can provide the help employees need.

Our employee assistance program addresses the issues facing not only the employees, but their families as well. Considering that about half of all Americans will meet the criteria for some type of mental disorder sometime in their lifetime, it is important to realize that the first onset usually happens in childhood or adolescence. On average, most people with anxiety and impulse-control disorders develop those problems at age 11 and half of all lifetime cases start by age fourteen. We are here to assist those family members as well and believe that prompt, appropriate, early intervention is the key to treating and managing mental illnesses.

We believe that employers want to help. One recent survey showed that 64% of employers would refer an employee with depression to a mental health care professional if they were only aware of the symptoms the employee was experiencing. This shows great benevolence on the part of the employer and through offering an EAP, the employer is able to illustrate that concern.

We can help. We can bridge the gap between the employer who needs a welladjusted, productive workforce and the employees who need the tools to deal with life’s issues. If you would like your company or organization to offer this benefit program at your place of work, call us today at 308-382-5297, ext. 127.

Works Cited

Hitti, M. (2005, June 6). Mental illness common in the U.S. Retrieved October 26, 2012, from WebMD: www.webmd.com

Taormina-Weiss, W. (2012). Common mental illnesses affecting workers today. Retrieved October 26, 2012, from disabled-world.com:


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  • Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker
    Licensed Independent Mental Health Practitioner

  • Janie Pfeifer Watson, LICSW, is the founder and director of Wholeness Healing Center, a mental health practice in Grand Island, Nebraska with remote sites in Broken Bow and Kearney. Her expertise encompasses a broad range of areas, including depression, anxiety, attachment and bonding, coaching, couples work, mindfulness, trauma, and grief. She views therapy as an opportunity to learn more about yourself as you step more into being your authentic self. From her perspective this is part of the spiritual journey; on this journey, she serves as a mirror for her clients as they get to know themselves—and, ultimately, to love themselves.


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