Newsroom 'Everyone needs someone to talk to' - inside the Employee Assistance Program Posted by Randy Berger on Dec. 10, 2020 Triesa Massey remembers the first time she heard about CoxHealth’s Employee Assistance Program. She was taking notes in an HR presentation about the benefit, which provides employees with a host of mental health support resources. The resource that jumped out at her was access to five free sessions with a counselor. She remembers thinking: That’s a nice perk. There are a lot of people out there who might benefit from this. Like many of us do, she didn’t think she would be one of those people. Then, she found herself faced with a personal crisis. She had a miscarriage. “I was so devastated. I had never experienced grief like that. I had no way to handle grief of that magnitude.” She called the EAP number, but she recalls having doubts even as she was making the call. “I was thinking: I’ve never done this. This is for other people. I don’t know what I’m doing.” She spoke with a trained call screener, who talked with her about what she was facing. The screener asked questions about her needs and the kind of counselor she wanted to work with. Triesa knew she wanted a female counselor, who had experience with grief and could offer Christian counseling and spiritual support. She was paired with a local provider, who she has worked with ever since. Reaching out in a tough time started a relationship that has been key to her health. Over the last three years, she has used the EAP benefit to work through personal and professional challenges, including managing the stresses of COVID-19. “I would not have sought it out any other way. And I would have been missing out,” she says. “I would have been shorting myself and everyone in my life who I serve by not putting forth my healthiest self.” ‘THERE WAS A WEIGHT LIFTED OFF MY SHOULDERS’ As someone completely new to counseling, Triesa says on her first visit, she didn’t think she would need to talk for an hour. “Next thing I knew, my hour was up. I was excited to come back and see her,” she says. The benefits of talking to a professional were immediate. “There was a weight lifted off my shoulders. I could go be a better version of myself.” Her counselor was able to offer support that went beyond what talking with friends and family could do. “My counselor challenged me. She pushed me – without judging me – to be thoughtful. To be mindful. She gave me options and perspectives I wouldn’t have considered on my own.” As Triesa worked with her counselor, she saw that the anger, sadness and confusion she was going through was normal. “Just to know that the stages of grief are not linear, that helped me. My counselor challenges me to understand why I’m feeling the way I’m feeling. She let me know it is OK to be this way, just know you can’t be here forever. “People who have been though heartbreaking and painful things need to make sure they are healthy to move forward.” ‘YOU DON’T KNOW YOU NEED A COUNSELOR UNTIL YOU GET ONE’ There has long been a stigma around mental health, and misconceptions about who needs mental health support. That is changing, and programs like EAP are giving more people a chance to understand the role mental health plays. Triesa says the EAP program made it clear for her. “I’m a normal person going through struggles,” she says. “Sometimes, you don’t know you need a counselor until you get one.” Now, she sees the support she receives from counseling as no different than the care she gets from her primary care physician. “I need mental health aspects to keep my entire being healthy. People underestimate that part of staying holistically healthy – I know I did.” Triesa says she felt good that CoxHealth was making mental wellness a priority. When she knows someone at work is facing a challenge, she is eager to share the EAP number. They just might find that EAP opens a door to something life changing. “This benefit shows that we understand that everyone struggles in some way. Everybody is going through something. Everyone needs someone to talk to. “It’s one of the best things I have ever done. Whatever is making life difficult, working on it matters,” Triesa says. “You are valuable – do this for you. You will reap benefits and be thankful that you did.” How CoxHealth employees can access EAP The EAP benefit offers a variety of mental health and wellbeing resources for CoxHealth employees. One of the EAP’s most powerful tools is offering any CoxHealth employee five free sessions with a professional counselor. Counselors can provide support for any challenges you may face – personally or professionally. In the beginning of COVID-19 this spring, Triesa Massey was juggling working from home and being a parent. “I thought, ‘I bet EAP can help with this,’” she says. “I told my counselor, ‘I am having trouble navigating,’ and she said, ‘amen.’ Don’t worry that your event isn’t big enough or drastic enough. Give yourself an opportunity to try it.” Here’s how it works: Just call the main EAP number 1-800-269 6022 (TTY 711) and talk with a professional screener. You’ll tell them some information about your situation, and the kind of counselor you want to talk with. The screener will provide you with a list of local providers, based on your preferences. Most providers currently offer virtual sessions that you can do from your computer or phone. The EAP benefit will cover five sessions with a counselor, per qualifying event. The CoxHealth EAP is available 24/7, 365. To get started, call 1-800-269-6022 or select "Employee Assistance Program" under the "For Your Health" section of the Employee Portal on the Intranet. You can also see webinarofferings and ongoing support offered through Magellan on the website.