NEW - Nivati adds financial wellness tool! Learn More

November 4, 2020 Amelia Wilcox

What is an EAP?

While EAPs are used by many companies, you might have never heard of one before! These Employee Assistance Programs, or EAPs, can be a great resource when you’re struggling with stress, anxiety and other mental health issues. But what exactly are they, how do they help companies and staff, and where did EAPs come from? Read on to learn what an EAP is, and the history of EAPs. 

Earliest EAP Formation

EAPs were initially created for addiction assistance (ie. alcohol and drug abuse) in the late 1930s. Alcohol was a huge part of American culture, even in the workplace. Issues began to arise when alcohol-impaired worker incidents grew. And that’s where EAPs began! As a way to support employees experiencing alcoholism or other alcohol-related issues. While the methods have hugely improved over the years (the original EAPs were enacted as pledges to abstain from substances! We’ve come a long way since then.) they still have the same goals — to improve employee productivity and focus by removing obstacles such as mental health, substance abuse and more. 

In the 1970s the National Council of Alcoholism (NCA) helped start the conversation of EAP and spread the programs nationally. Over time, they’ve expanded with the goal of additionally addressing the needs of employee’s families. They’ve broadened to deal with a wider scope of relationship, emotional, legal and financial assistance, no longer just for substance abuse. Knowledge about these programs was spread through conferences, seminars and information that was distributed.

In Recent Years:

EAPs have evolved to meet the changing needs of America’s workforce in recent years. Beyond their original purpose to help with alcohol and substance abuse, they now also serve as mental health assistance for a variety of issues. From workplace stress and anxiety, relationship issues, even financial and legal help.They have also begun to be offered in new ways. From wellness apps to virtual platforms, there are so many more ways to access mental health care confidentially.

Crisis events such as September 11 have caused the need for EAPs to rise. Since 9/11 more and more employees were reported experiencing a rise in PTSD, as well as occupational anxiety and depression. Now, with COVID and all of the stress it is causing–health worries, layoffs, and more–mental health is only becoming more important. These types of tragedies and stressors aren’t something we’re necessarily equipped to deal with! Sometimes we need someone to step in and help us process and heal. 

Beyond those types of specific events, stress and anxiety are on the rise across America. Our work culture focuses on performance, competition and perfection, which leads to stressed employees. This kind of stress — if not addressed — can cause a lot of damage. That’s why EAPs are still so important in our work environment.

employee assistance programs for stress and anxiety

Benefits of EAPs:

Employee assistance programs cover a wide range of services, and address all sorts of issues, from mental health to financial help:

  • Direct access to counselors and life coaches
  • Counseling sessions as fast as the same day, and available 24/7
  • Counselors are human behavior experts
  • Counselors with experience in your particular problems
  • Confidentiality
  • Mental and emotional care available at no cost to the employee
  • Treatment can be on-site virtually or in-person
  • Improved productivity of employees
  • Face-to-face care
  • Help maintain a good work/life balance

What type of issues will the EAP counselor assist with?

  • Substance abuse
  • Occupational stress and anxiety
  • Emotional distress and depression
  • Major life events
  • nutrition and health coaching and concerns
  • financial or non-work-related concerns
  • relationship issues
  • work relationship issues

The history of EAPs has informed how they began, but due to current events they have evolved quickly! With COVID taking our work and lives online more than ever before, EAPs have to update their functions too! Virtual services mean that mental health care is available even in the middle of a global pandemic. Which is good — because we’ve never needed support more! EAPs can now handle stress and anxiety, grief, and more remotely. These virtual services can help those dealing with COVID related issues, and other national events that affect many people’s day to day lives. It can be helpful to talk to someone if you’re experiencing anxiety, anger, pain or suffering related to the coronavirus pandemic. 

Need support? Try our innovative new EAP counseling services — we’re offering six months free, so you can try all we have to offer on our virtual portal, risk free. Experience live mental health sessions with our talented practitioners, anytime you need them. Enjoy virtual yoga, guided meditation, massage instruction and personal training to keep your mental health in check year-round. Think you don’t have time for any of those services? Check our online portal where we have over 200 videos of our practitioners leading you through stress-relieving, calming, rejuvenating sessions! Starting at just 2 minutes, you can fit these into even the busiest day. 

Amelia Wilcox

Amelia Wilcox is the Founder and CEO of Nivati, a leader in corporate massage and employee mental health support since 2010. Her high-growth B2B company provides employee stress management tools that arm businesses with actionable data and positive employee experiences to improve wellbeing, boost morale, and increase engagement.

Amelia has exponentially grown her company from a solo living-room service business to an international technology brand.

Recently listed as a Forty Under 40, Fast 50, Inc 5000 Twice awarded National Woman-Owned Small Business of the Year

Licenses, Certifications & Memberships
Licensed Massage Therapist since 2002
Member of American Massage Therapy Association
Served on Utah Worksite Wellness Council from 2012-2015

Attended Utah College of Massage Therapy
Educated in Nutrition and Exercise Physiology at the University of Utah

Massage Magazine (AMTA's publication)