There's no doubt employee assistance programmes (EAPs), otherwise known as Occupational Health, have their benefits.
They offer immediate support to employees with personal and work-related problems. They help employers reduce absenteeism and increase productivity. And they are confidential. No one knows who calls the 24-hour EAP hotline to talk to a counsellor.
Quick fix benefits
I can see the benefits of immediate EAP advice where the problem is:
- physical health related
- drug related
An immediate direct and confidential response can be a helpful quick fix.
But for longer term life events, a more rounded approach is better. After all, the effects of post-traumatic stress, illness, trauma and bereavements are not time limited.
Confidence to Return recently learnt the major impact it can have on employees based on their EAP experience (referred to as Occupational Health for the purpose of this blog), as *Laura explains her experience below with us.
*the name Laura has been made up to protect client confidentiality.
I was referred to Occupational Health at work on my Manager’s recommendation. This was to take place alongside the intense therapy I was also receiving for a past trauma, which had caused me depression, post-traumatic stress and anxiety.
My first occupational health appointment was somewhat helpful, and I was encouraged to talk about the issues that I had and was still facing. I was then referred to a Psychiatrist to get a second opinion on my diagnosis.
“This meant explaining and talking about my past and my current issues all over again”.
A few weeks later, I was then being seen by three different people; Occupational Health, a Psychiatrist and a Therapist, as well as having to report back to my Manager. It was all a bit too much if I’m honest. I felt very vulnerable at the time and had serious trust issues. So, telling my story and explaining my troubles to one person was hard enough! Never mind to three different people within a short space of time. It was a lot of stress going back and forth to various people to talk about my illness and having to relive the memory daily.
My symptoms then got worse very quickly, I started to experience nightmares, paranoia and a huge lack of trust in people, even with those closest to me. These emotions and symptoms that I felt had nothing to do with the system or the support that was put in place for me, it was more to do with me, because my past trauma had been brought to the surface, and therefore I was having to reface it and come to terms with it every day.
“It is also important to note that I had attachment issues at the time, so going from one person to another was extremely distressing and confusing for me”
I was referred to a Psychiatrist, who initially said I was fit to work, (after having been told by Occupational Health that I possibly wasn’t) it was a lot of messing about. My symptoms got worse as I continued with my twice weekly therapy sessions and it wasn’t long before I was then signed off from work. As time went by and the more therapy received, I went from just about being able to get a train to work to then not being able to function at all. I shortly afterwards saw my Physiatrist for a second time where he then suggested that I check myself in hospital the very next working day to be in a safe environment, whilst I dealt with my trauma.
During my time in hospital, I was encouraged to take medication three times a day and attend group therapy sessions. My Psychiatrist was fantastic, but he was only appointed to help me from a medical point of view, I still had to participate in therapy. This in turn led to further therapy sessions after I was hospitalised, which prolonged my return to work.
I wish I knew Sandie back then, as I would of liked to have had JUST the one person to confide in about my problems, and the potential opportunity to complete her EMDR treatment
“This would have helped me with the nightmares that I was having to re-live everyday as opposed to being hospitalised and being put on daily medication”
The medication just put a filter on everything. It didn’t change my view of the past or help me to obtain closure and move on, or to accept it as part of my life.
I’ll always be grateful for the support I received by all professionals involved. However, personally I don’t think that I needed a Psychiatrist. I needed a therapist that specialised in EMDR and trauma therapy! Sending employees to Occupational Health is a step in the right direction for employees, but even they have their limits as the employee may need to be referred for further help. You then as an employee have to wait a few more weeks for an appointment, (which feels like an eternity when you need help) and then there is a further wait for reports to be filed.
“Surely, it’s just easier to have a ‘One Stop Shop Therapist, who can supply all of this at a much quicker rate and in a more therapeutic environment at the benefit of the employer and the employee”
It saves prolonged sick leave for the employer and money, and most importantly the employee is not left to feel vulnerable because they do not know who they’re going to be dealing/speaking with next.
Benefits of flexible approach with Confidence to Return:
More flexible and personal support programmes offer greater and more long-lasting benefits.
For example, Confidence to Return ensures your employee:
- can contact us in person by phone, text and email, or meet us one-to-one
- can speak to the same person throughout
- benefits from long-term support, rather than a specific number of sessions
- benefits from programme sessions longer than the usual 50 minutes to an hour offered in counselling
Everyone benefits from Confidence to Return being:
- an objective link between you and your employee, to clarify contract issues, for example
- connected to the HR process. Although confidential, we can make suggestions and communicate issues to benefit everyone.
As a HR, L&D or Corporate Leaders, are you aware of what to look out for if you suspect that your employee has depression or post-traumatic stress disorder?
An employee who suffers with depression or PTSD might show signs of:
- sadness, anxiety and low self-esteem
- panic, trembling and restlessness
- avoiding people, places or situations
- addictions and compulsive behaviour such as overeating or over shopping
- catastrophising, where someone imagines the worst possible outcome
- fear of public speaking and performance anxiety
How EMDR can help
Confidence to Return now offers EMDR to support your employee on their return to work after a traumatic birth.
Read here to see how it works: http://www.confidencetoreturn.co.uk/page/emdr-therapy/
Help your employees make it through. Get in touch with Confidence to Return to learn how EMDR or our one-to-one coaching could help your business and save your employees.