The World Health Organization estimates that 264 million people worldwide suffer from depression, many of whom also experience anxiety. It also estimates that depression and anxiety alone cost the global economy US$ 1 trillion each year in lost productivity. Workplaces that promote mental wellness are likely to reduce absenteeism and employee turnover, increase productivity, and benefit economically as a result. In short, mental health and wellness is as good for workplaces as it is for individuals and families.
That’s why for more than 30 years, EAP of Bermuda has been providing services that motivate employees to be proactive in seeking help, educate and empower management staff to effectively deal with issues in the workplace, and follow through with continued support and guidance. EAP is a private, non-profit organisation that offers confidential support services to employers and their staff—and the only EAP programme in Bermuda that is accredited. “Confidentiality is a big worry in Bermuda, and we take it very seriously,” says Latisha Lister, executive director at EAP. “We want people to seek help as soon as they can, so they can access a better life. So it’s important that people trust in our confidentiality, which is tied to our accreditation. We could lose our standing if confidentiality wasn’t of the upmost importance to us.”
When it comes to mental health and wellness, Latisha is particularly concerned about the strain that the COVID pandemic has placed on individuals and families. “COVID has been very emotionally draining with the blurring of work-life boundaries and working longer hours,” she says. “In the last year, we have seen a spike in depression and anxiety. To help managers handle employees’ mental health, we offer management consultations. These allow a manager to talk through a difficult situation with us that they may not know how to handle. Everyone understands the importance of getting insurance for medical issues. EAP is your mental health insurance.”
For employees, EAP provides short-term, solution-focussed counselling and, where appropriate, outside referrals. For companies and organisations, EAP provides information and support-based training, including supervisor training and constructive confrontation workshops, as well as coaching for management and HR personnel. The organisation also provides seminars and workshops that promote an informed and healthy functioning workplace, as well as critical incident and trauma debriefing and assistance with implementing drug-free workplace initiatives. On call 24 hours a day, EAP accepts self-referrals, where individuals personally make contact, and also compassionate and supervisory referrals, where a manager may remind an employee that they have an EAP benefit or may ask an employee to contact EAP. Whichever route, EAP never discusses the employee’s situation with anyone at their place of employment. Partners and children are also able to use EAP services with, of course, the same level of confidentiality.
“Individual and couple counselling is our most widely used service,” says Latisha. “People have benefitted from pre-marriage sessions and from advice about how to divorce in a healthy way for their children. Sometimes people come to us to discuss their careers and life goals or sometimes just because they’re having a tough time and are not sure what to do. We have five counsellors and offer evening hours as well as online options. We want to remove as many barriers as possible to getting help.” For simplicity of access, EAP’s Wellness Wednesday webinar can be viewed from home and has covered topics like developing a mental health programme, parenting a special needs child or improving couples’ dynamics. Training Tuesdays are also available to management and deal with topics such as bullying or incivility in the workplace and mental health for managers.
Latisha is proud of all the work the EAP Board and staff do to help employers and employees and to maintain the organisation’s accreditation with the Bermuda National Standards Committee. The BNSC assures of EAP’s best practices, continuous quality improvement, and client rights and responsibilities protections, among other factors. “Our passion is to help create emotionally healthy communities,” says Latisha. “Individual and workplace wellness and growth are an important part of achieving that.”
EAP is a private, non-profit corporation offering confidential support services to employers and their staff. It is the only accredited EAP programme in Bermuda. For more information regarding EAP, visit www.eap.bm or call 292-9000.