We’re sharing some free financial wellbeing resources to support you through this period of economic uncertainty, including EAPs and how to access them
The cost of living is on the rise and financial hardship is placing a burden on our mental wellbeing. Managing finances can cause stress for many people; trying to balance the cost of energy bills, rent or mortgage repayments, whilst many are having to decide between heating and eating.
Recent announcements are all the more confusing, worrying and, quite frankly, tiring. However you’re feeling right now, know that you are not alone. Below, we examine the benefits of EAPs - including what they are and how you can access them - as well as some additional support systems and free financial wellbeing resources.
What are EAPs?
Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs) are a type of employee benefit that many employers offer their staff. In an effort to minimise lower levels of productivity, EAPs are designed to help staff with personal problems that could impact their performance, physical and mental health, and wellbeing.
Generally, EAPs provide services such as face-to-face, online or telephone counselling and expert support for employees and their immediate families. The service is provided for little to no cost and is confidential.
While EAP schemes used to be predominantly for issues such as alcohol or substance misuse and family problems, they now often cover a broad range including legal problems, wellness advice, stress management and financial concerns, which makes them a useful resource during the cost of living crisis.
According to People Management, almost all businesses nowadays have an Employee Assistance Programme in place, but only an average of 5% of employees are utilising them.
Whilst EAPs provide a number of benefits to companies, including reduced absenteeism and higher productivity, their key benefit lies in the ability to promote wellness and help employees through personal challenges.
How can EAPs help during the cost of living crisis?
The Reward and Employee Benefits Association (REBA) outlines four ways in which EAPs can support people during the current cost of living crisis.
1. Providing financial information and support
EAPs are available 24/7 and are there to provide unbiased advice and support for those struggling with finances. They can be especially useful in our society where we still struggle to have open and honest conversations about money, particularly with our employers. Having access to an EAP means individuals are able to find the support they need in confidence.
2. Offering financial help
Whilst some companies are offering bonuses to their staff to help them through the toughest period of the crisis, many businesses are also affected by the economic downturn. EAPs often offer employees benefits such as discounts and vouchers for retailers and groceries, which can go some way to supporting those struggling to feed their families.
3. Access to mental health services
As financial stress has been known to increase anxiety and depression, protecting our mental health is vital during periods of uncertainty. In many cases, EAPs allow people to access mental health services, such as private counselling and therapy, faster than they would without.
4. Protecting physical health
Choosing between heating and eating is a saddening phrase we’re hearing all too often. With energy prices continuing to rise, the cost of gas and electricity has seen many people living in damp, cold conditions and struggling to feed themselves and their families. There is likely to be an increased number of people taking sick absences from work as the impact of the crisis takes a physical toll on their health. For those struggling, EAPs can provide healthcare-related benefits and Occupational Health support.
Find out more on how to keep warm for less this winter.
How can I access my EAP?
If you are unsure whether you have access to an EAP, it’s recommended that you speak with your company’s HR department or management. They’ll be able to guide you through the process of using the EAP if you have one. Generally, though, they’re done on a self-referral basis. As mentioned, if you chose to access help via an EAP, it can be done completely confidentially and you don’t have to discuss your reasons with your employer unless you chose to do so.
What if I don’t have access to an EAP?
If you’re not part of an Employee Assistance Programme, you can still access resources that offer free support, whether you’re looking for financial, wellbeing support or other. We’ve listed some alternative services below:
Andy’s Man Club
Andy’s Man Club is a men’s suicide prevention charity set up to eliminate the stigma attached to men’s mental health. They meet weekly on Mondays at 7pm and offer free peer support groups for men over 18. Use their tool to find your nearest group.
Alcoholics Anonymous was founded in 1935 and is a fellowship of people concerned with the recovery of alcoholics. Support is free and handled by elected officers. If you need help with a drinking problem, you can contact their helpline at 0800 9177650, email [email protected] or find a support group.
Mind, the mental health charity, offers Local Mind services including talking therapies, crisis services, drop-in centres, befriending and counselling. You can find your Local Mind network using their search and find out more about what each individual organisation offers.
Money and Mental Health
The Money and Mental Health Policy Institute is the leading centre of expertise, founded by the money-saving expert, Martin Lewis. Their help page details various guides and support services for anyone struggling with their finances and mental health, as well as those that can help with the cost of living.
Rethink understands that money and mental health are linked, and often result in a vicious cycle. They’ve set up a dedicated Mental Health and Money Advice website that outlines practical advice and support for anyone that needs it, including a free toolkit.
At Counselling Directory, you can browse our range of articles and resources produced by our members. Happiful also has a dedicated section of articles covering finance-related topics, including advice and practical hacks for saving money at home.
Whatever your situation, you don't have to face it alone. It's important to take care of yourself during these challenging times. Utilise the resources available to you and don't be afraid to reach out for help.