EAPs & Crisis Response

by Bernie Dyme

As you know, I am very biased.  I believe that EAPs are invaluable tools for helping employees and workplaces.  And lots of time, the value doesn’t get noticed.  Well, this blog will highlight another element of EAPs that demonstrate teh need for high quality.  Most folks know of Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) as a place for individuals to go when they are in need of help.  Traditionally they have been for folks who are experiencing serious problems.  But EAPs do a lot more and often people are not even aware of those things.  In fact, EAPs are able to provide a lot of preventive services such as finding legal or financial resources or child or elder care.  But a little publicized yet critical service offered by an EAP is Crisis Response.  This occurs in consultative services as well as having the EAP come on-site to assist employees and leadership in dealing with a crisis at work such as a death, bank robbery, shooting or workplace violence episode.

There are many sensational stories such as the Virginia Tech shootings of a few weeks ago but there are also a lot of events that occur outside of the public eye.  Here are some examples of a typical 4 week period that just occurred with Perspectives EAP that required immediate response.

  • An organization recently had two events occur within a very short period of time.  One involved the suicide of a former employee and the other the death of a well liked current employee.  Our specialists helped the HR and management teams deal with the employees and family members effected.  They also assisted them in dealing with the inevitable stress that arises when these situations occur.  We will remain available for the employees and the organization for as long as it takes to recover from these traumas.
  • At another organization, an employee called because he was deciding which of two plans he should use  for killing himself and our EAP specialists called emergency personnel to get him to the hospital.  The next day one of our counselors contacted the employee and spoke with him while he awaited admission to the hospital.  We will follow up to make sure he gets the help he needs and continues on a program that will hopefully enable him to deal with his emotional pain successfully.  And again, we will work with the organization to help them deal with any organizational stress this situation caused.
  • In another situation, a manager called the EAP to let us know that one of his employees had discussed his plan to commit suicide and got him to call the EAP.  Our EAP counselor spent time with him on the phone and got permission to contact the employee’s family and psychiatrist.  We will also reach out to the manager to make sue that he is supported in his own possible reactions.
  • An employee called at his supervisor’s request after telling his supervisor he was not feeling well and was having multiple life problems.  The employee revealed to the counselor that he had just attempted to kill himself at work prior to talking to supervisor.  Although the employee disconnected the call when safety measures were discussed, police and work site follow up pursued, resulting in employee being voluntarily hospitalized.  Again, we will work with the supervisor to support him around his feelings.

These are just some of the many incidents that occur on a fairly regular basis.  It hopefully shows you the value of a high quality EAP and the complexity of  work that goes into dealing with these types of traumas.  So the next time you are considering contracting with an EAP, make sure that these services are a part of their expertise.  This type of service is a major part of what the EAP does and should be doing.  It can save lives and create an environment that fosters safety, security, loyalty and productivity.

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