Benefits Strategy


Overcome Common EAP Challenges with Preventive Tools for Mental Health

Calm Business complements and elevates your employee assistance program (EAP) to improve workforce mental health and well-being.

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The Calm Team

7 min read

Has your organization offered an employee assistance program (EAP) for years but struggled to get employees to use it? And now, to address growing employee stress and burnout, you’re doubling down—offering a bigger and more modern EAP in the hope that utilization will improve? It’s a common scenario among employers and a step in the right direction. 

Even so, the results may fall short of your expectations. You may find that EAP utilization remains low and your employees continue to need and ask for more mental health support.

Preventive mental health tools can change that. They can improve your workforce’s mental health and well-being and drive greater utilization of your EAP. 

The EAP is the mainstay of mental health benefits plans but is also poorly utilized

The traditional EAP—providing assessments, free counseling sessions, and referrals for additional services—has long been viewed as the foundation for supporting employees’ and their families’ mental health and well-being. Nearly every employer has an EAP: 95% of companies with over 5,000 employees and 80% with 1,001 to 5,000 employees offer one. 

However, few employees are taking advantage of it. According to SHRM, a median of about 3.5% of employees use their EAP services per year, which is a problem for employers and employees alike.

Modern EAPs offer new features, but challenges persist

To improve utilization (and workforce mental health), employers are upgrading to newer, more modern EAPs that offer an expanded set of features. According to the Business Group on Health, 97% of large employers offer an EAP, 34% use a newer EAP model, with another 25% considering doing so by 2024. 

Elevated EAPs can offer a wide range of new features, including more curated provider networks, a digital front door instead of phone-based entry, on-the-spot telephonic counseling, community sessions, health assessments, personalized treatment plans, help scheduling therapy appointments, critical incident care, certified coaching, education programs, online trainings, tips for improving mental health, and more.

Despite the extensive features of newer EAPs, however, three major barriers to utilization persist, potentially undermining your goals to improve the mental health and well-being of your workforce:

  • Modern EAPs don’t adequately address the mental health needs of the vast majority of employees.
  • There’s still a stigma associated with using an EAP.
  • Employees may never discover your EAP’s new features because they don’t know how to find it when needed.

The good news? Preventive tools for mental health like Calm Business can overcome these barriers.

Preventive mental health tools address most employee mental health needs

For the 24% of employees who need counseling and the 1% of those who need clinical intervention, a traditional EAP is an appropriate solution, and modern EAPs a much better one. But 75% of employees don’t need counseling, psychotherapy, or clinical intervention. Instead, they need access to proactive, preventive mental health tools to help them manage stress, anxiousness, sleep issues, and other challenges in the moment before they escalate into more serious mental and physical health problems.

A person suffering from chronic insomnia might want to talk to a therapist to help them get to the root of the problem, but when they’re tossing and turning at night, they would benefit from a tool to help them fall asleep. An employee panicking minutes before a big presentation probably won’t seek out educational materials or try to reach a coach. But they may take a minute to use a breathing exercise or listen to soundscapes or music to relax and refocus.

Employees want and expect preventive mental health support from their employers. Nearly 70% of Gen Zers say employers should help them with their stress and anxiety, for example. But less than 40% of business leaders say their organizations offer tools for managing stress, anxiety, and sleep issues. 

Learn how Duluth Public Schools augments their EAP with a proactive, preventive approach

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Calm Business’s upstream preventive tools can be accessed anytime, anywhere to manage these common challenges as they arise. 

Preventive tools can overcome the stigma barrier

Studies have shown that many employees simply won’t access an EAP because of the stigma attached to mental health and to receiving help generally or EAP counseling services specifically. In short, stigma is a barrier to the use of EAPs, especially among men.

Employers can address the stigma barrier by offering employees a different path for engaging with their mental health.

According to the Business Group on Health’s mental health strategy guide, “interventions designed to promote positive mental health aren’t associated with a particular mental health status, and thus can reach a larger employee audience without the stigma that benefits or programs explicitly targeting mental health may carry. Indeed, large employers have indicated that sleep programs, for example, can be an effective initial point of care for mental health and substance use disorder programs.”

For example, mental health preventive tools like Calm Business that address stress, mild anxiety, sleep issues, and positive thinking can serve as an entry point to your EAP and wider mental health resources by engaging employees with a well-known brand. 

And now, Calm Business also helps you overcome another common barrier to EAP utilization: employees can’t find it when they need it. 

Calm Business helps your employees navigate easily to their EAP

A recent One Medical study showed that half of employees don’t have a good awareness or understanding of their employer’s health and benefits offerings, and 55% have difficulty navigating their healthcare. As a result, among the 80+% of HR leaders increasing their healthcare budgets this year, 50% are adding solutions for care navigation.

Calm Business makes navigation to your EAP easier. The new release of Calm Business enables you to promote your company’s EAP within the Calm app. With Calm Business, you not only provide preventive mental health support for the vast majority of your employees who need it, you create a simple on-ramp to your EAP for the 25% of employees who need a higher level of clinical support.

Calm Business complements and elevates your EAP, driving better results

If you’re moving to a modern EAP to address growing workplace stress, anxiety, and burnout, you’ll need to address persistent challenges. Even the newest EAPs are designed primarily for a small subset of your population, leaving the majority without adequate support. EAPs also continue to battle against long-held perceptions that they’re designed only for crisis mental health situations, which deter many employees from using them. And among those employees who do want to access your EAP, more than half are having trouble navigating to it.

You can address all three barriers with Calm Business. Calm Business’s strong brand and approachable mental health practices have driven industry-leading utilization—30% sign-up rates and 80% engagement rates—with exceptional evidence-based outcomes.

For more information on how Calm Business can help you improve employee mental health and well-being, contact a Calm specialist today.

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