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Employee Assistance Program helps at the holidays and beyond

Dec. 13, 2007
By Katie Quaranta

Festive and heartwarming activities define the holiday season. All too often, however, feelings of anxiety or depression can threaten to derail holiday cheer.

For Ohio University employees, members of their households and dependent students living outside the home, the Employee Assistance Program can help. The EAP, run for the university through national consulting firm BMA Impact, provides support for people struggling with personal or work-related problems during the holidays and throughout the year. The goal is to help members of the Ohio University community achieve a solid work/life balance.

"I think it's a great program because there are times ... when life gets stressful," said Connie Garrett, an employee benefits specialist with University Human Resources. Rather than let problems fester, "it's better to contact EAP and get help early."

Prior to contracting with Impact in July 2006, Human Resources handled the EAP on a part-time basis. Now, however, the program provides a 24-hour phone line staffed by licensed counselors who can provide guidance and support in areas ranging from job stress and child management to bereavement and health issues.

Master-level counselors answer the phone and make referrals to local providers for up to five free face-to-face sessions per person per occurrence. Experts also are available to offer legal and financial advice and make referrals to local lawyers or finance professionals who are contracted to provide services at a discounted rate.

Garrett stressed that the process is completely confidential. When calling the phone support line, employees do not have to give a name or any identifying information except that they are associated with Ohio University.

"It is strictly confidential by law," she said. "The only time it would not stay confidential is when a safety risk is presented or one mentions harm to self or others."

The BMA Impact Web site, which users can access by using the account login "ohiouniversity," also provides extensive work/life wellness resources, including newsletters, assessment tests and advice from experts on how to address a broad variety of challenges. A December newsletter on the site is particularly relevant as it offers tips on beating the "holiday blues" and making this season as enjoyable as possible. The site also includes suggestions for holiday stress busters and advice on how to choose safe and appropriate toys for children.

"I think it all comes back to balance, keeping the holidays manageable and not adding stress to what may already be a busy life," Garrett said.

The EAP phone support line can be reached at 1-800-227-6007. For posters or fliers to promote the program in a university department or office, contact Garrett at 740-593-1651.

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Published: Jul 20, 2006 3:50:00 PM
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