In spite of recently released data by Black Dog Institute I’m upbeat about the possibilities for healthy workplaces through EAP PLUS programs and related services such as mindfulness training. Black Dog Institute is possibly Australia’s best known not for profit organisation that works to reduce depression and other mental health concerns. Its recently released statistics about workplace illness are alarming.
- Depression and anxiety are now the leading cause of long-term sickness absence in the developed world.
- Presenteeism is highly linked with depression and anxiety where employees remain at work despite these conditions significantly reducing productivity.
- The impact of poor mental health at work in Australia has been calculated to cost the economy over $12billion each year, including over $200million worth of workers’ compensation claims.
- There is a tendency for recovering workers to be marginalised from the workforce.
EAP counselling has proven benefits for employees and workplaces. A study of over 1000 counselling clients from a major EAP provider, (covering all major industry sectors across private and public sector employers in Australia), researched:
- the impact of EAP counselling on employee wellbeing, productivity and absenteeism; and
- return on investment of EAP counselling based on the impact on employee productivity.
The results of EAP PLUS are unequivocally positive:
- an average of 86% improvement in regard to emotional wellbeing
- an average 50% improvement in work morale & motivation
- a 45% improvement in work-life management, and
- across physical health, work relationships and work productivity the averages for improvement were 24-27%.
The lowest level of improvement is across three areas that relate to work functioning (rather than personal functioning). This is important. The focus for the future needs to be on healthy workplaces and work functioning – workforces that are physically and mentally fit, are supportive of each other and have the skills to build positive workplaces cultures.
As a leading provider of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) and Mindfullness, ACT Curious EAP is on the front foot, working with organisations and staff across the board. This involves leadership support and upskilling groups of staff, in addition to EAP counselling:
- Mindful and Effective Employee training is provided twice a year for all staff (a free service if ACT Curious is your EAP Plus provider).
- Training for managers in ACT. (Where managers were trained in ACT there was a significant increase in earnings compared to teams whose managers did not receive this training).
Mindfulness increases psychological flexibility, in both clients and systems. Randomised controlled trials shows that ACT interventions improve mental health, innovation potential and reduce burnout rate as a result of increasing flexibility. ACT is beneficial for employees with “normal” level of mental health as well as those who are reporting moderate to high levels of psychological distress.
I am positive that EAP providers, using evidenced based tools such as ACT and Mindfulness, can generate well workplaces – which is a significant but underestimated factor if we want well individuals at work.
 EAP Counselling: Outcomes, Impact & Return on Investment. Paul J Flanagan & Jeffrey Ot
 Acceptance and Commitment Therapy helps staff to
- Learn to experience difficult thoughts and feelings, without trying to control them, change them or avoid them (Mindfulness)
- Take action by choosing to move towards goals, values, (who or what is important to you), even when difficult thoughts, feelings and memories show up.
 Bond & Bunce, 2000 Flaxman & Bond( 2010), Flaxman et al (2011).
DISCLAIMER: The content of this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Michelle Trudgen Clinical Director, ACT Curious.
copyright: 4 February 2019