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Welcome to AskEARN’s new website. As we transition to our new site, you can still visit EARN’s previous site.

About EARN

The Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion (EARN) is a free resource that helps employers tap the benefits of disability diversity by educating public- and private-sector organizations on ways to build inclusive workplace cultures.

Getting Started

Start here to learn how to recruit, hire, retain and advance people with disabilities — and how EARN’s resources can help.

    Phases of Employment

  • Recruit

    Build a pipeline of talent that includes people with disabilities.

  • Hire

    Identify people who have the skills and attributes for the job.

  • Retain

    Keep talented employees with disabilities, including those who acquire them on the job.

  • Advance

    Ensure that employees with disabilities have equal opportunities for advancement.

News & Events

EARN makes it easy to stay up-to-date on disability employment news and information. Start by subscribing to our e-blasts and monthly e-newsletter, which will connect you to upcoming events, developing news and promising practices in the world of disability diversity and inclusion. And don’t forget to follow EARN on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn

Pillar 3: Offer Employee ASSISTANCE

Pillar 3 in the framework is to assist employees who have, or who may develop, mental health conditions.

Several tactics for assisting employees are explored in Pillar 1, such as:

  • Providing mentoring, coaching and peer support to your employees.
  • Providing mental health screening and access to secondary and tertiary treatment.
  • Offering screening and treatment for substance abuse disorders through the company’s health care plan and other benefits.
  • Providing flexible work arrangements such as flex-scheduling and telecommuting.
  • Offering fitness programs to improve employees’ physical—and, in turn mental— health.
  • Offering stress management training.

All About EAPs

In addition, many employers support employees by sponsoring Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) focused on mental health services. But what are EAPs, and how exactly do they work? The following resources can help.

According to the International Employee Assistance Professionals Association (EAPA), EAPs “serve organizations and their employees in multiple ways, ranging from consultation at the strategic level about issues with organization-wide implications to individual assistance to employees and family members experiencing personal difficulties.” These difficulties may include, but are not limited to:

  • Stress, whether work-related or not
  • Alcohol and other drug abuse, including prescription drug abuse
  • Major life transitions
  • Health care management concerns
  • Financial or legal concerns
  • Family or personal relationship concerns, including those related to marriage, children or aging parents
  • Coworker relationship concerns
  • Work/life balance

EAP services are paid for in full by the employer but are provided confidentially; employers do not know which individual employees access EAP services, rather, they only receive data regarding the number who do. Some large organizations offer in-house EAP services, while others outsource them to specialized EAP providers. Regardless of approach, EAPs typically offer access to a 24-hour telephone hotline.

Originally, EAPs were focused on substance abuse disorders. The first programs, started in the 1930s, were peer-to-peer efforts to address worker alcohol use in particular and its impact on worker performance. Over time, businesses realized the model could be used to help employees address a range of personal and mental health issues that might negatively impact their productivity.

Research conducted over the years has affirmed EAPs’ effectiveness, for both employers and employees, on multiple levels. In addition to increased employee productivity, these benefits include reduced medical costs, turnover and absences. They can also be a key tool for employee retention and helping employees stay at or return to work following accident or illness, whether a mental health condition or not. Given their roots, EAPs may be a key tool for helping employees impacted by the opioid epidemic.

The benefits of EAPs convey regardless of size of company, yet small businesses are less likely to offer them than their larger counterparts, even though research by the National Small Business Association indicates that 42 percent of small business owners report that, when it comes to overall productivity and employee health, high stress levels are the greatest concern. There are strategies small businesses can use to offer EAP services, for example, by banding together to negotiate for better prices. Business membership groups such as chambers of commerce or trade associations may be of assistance in this regard. In fact, providing employee assistance in the small business environment can be especially important, given that decreased productivity or absence of even one employee can have significant effects across an organization.

EAPs may not be an option for every company, in which case many of the tips listed in Pillar 1 can help employers accomplish similar goals.

However large or small your organization, the following are resources that can help you leverage EAPs as a workplace mental health strategy.