EAP programs were started in the 1970’s to facilitate mental health in the workplace. It was thought that if troubled employees had a qualified and confidential person with whom they could speak, productivity problems, accidents and personal problems could be averted thereby, increasing the return-on-investment for the Human Resource.
Since then the field has grown to include: mental health, family health, disability management, and organizational consultation services. People with personal problems are very high utilizers of the medical systems. Resolving problems can decrease their need for medical care. Early intervention for personal problems relieves symptoms and reduces need for both long-term therapy and expensive inpatient psychiatric care.
Disability claims often begin as psychological difficulties that eventually manifest in physiological symptoms. Employees who have access to an EAP or behavioral health service can get help and take care of the problem early on, before physical symptoms became problematic. Employees preoccupied with personal problems are “accidents” waiting to happen. At least 10% of the work force suffers from personal problems serious enough to impair performance.
In the United States businesses lose billions of dollars annually as a result of troubled employees. Findings from a survey of over 400 human resource professionals found that each year the United States loses $44 billion to lost productivity and medical treatment due to chronic depression.