Thursday, December 16, 2010

I was afraid this would happen.

Depressed employees drive up costs for EAPs. Huh? An official document issued by the American Psychiatric Association states that depression in the workplace takes a financial toll on the work organization. Specifically, "in addition to claims for behavioral health care, costs due to behavioral health problems significantly impact other costs such as productivity, employee assistance programs (EAPs), disability, general medical, and other pharmaceutical claims. While most employers have developed strategies to reduce behavioral health costs, few employers make use of strategies to manage behavioral health treatment quality.

In other words, the EAP is a cost-center and behavioral health problems burden it. This statement is tantamount to saying the fires drive up the costs of fire departments, so we should find a way to put out fires better to save the costs to fire departments.

Let's be more illustrative. If you view an EAP as simply an employee benefit like a gym membership, this statement is completely consistent with how EAPs are more and more being viewed by the business world thanks to a continuing stream of published literature that has redefined them from their original intent. No longer, it appears, are EAPs viewed as management tools to address behavioral risk issues and improve productivity via supervisory and self-referral.

This view of EAPs should change or a different model for the delivery of the Core Technology (which ain't going away) should be created, and then THAT--whatever it is called--should be sold to rescue workers and management and employers from the burden costs associated with troubled employees.

The Report, from the 4th Quarter document "Mental at Work" published by the Partnership for Workplace Mental Health has, in my opinion, a worrisome view in its context of what the benefits industry sees as an EAP. Tell me I am wrong, and I will love you forever.