September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. Every year, approximately 44,000 people die by suicide, making it the tenth leading cause of death in the U.S. According to a newly released study published in JAMA Psychiatry, suicide attempts among U.S. adults are on the rise. Middle-aged adults (aged 45-64 years) had the highest suicide rate and young adults (aged 21-34 years) had the biggest increase in suicide attempts. And, while suicide attempts were higher among women than men, more men completed suicide.
While suicide is preventable, it is a topic that many feel uncomfortable talking about, even with family and friends. It is important to know that family members, friends, coworkers and others can play an important role in recognizing when someone is at risk or in crisis and connect that person with the most appropriate sources of care. Here are the major warning signs to be aware of:
Signs of Acute Risk:
– Threatening to hurt or kill him or herself, or talking of wanting to hurt or kill him/herself; and or,
– Looking for ways to kill him/herself by seeking access to firearms, available pills, or other means; and/or,
– Talking or writing about death, dying or suicide when these actions are out of the ordinary.
Expanded Warning Signs:
– Increased substance (alcohol or drug) use
– No reason for living; no sense of purpose in life
– Anxiety, agitation, unable to sleep or sleeping all of the time
– Feeling trapped – like there’s no way out
– Withdrawal from friends, family and society
– Rage, uncontrolled anger, seeking revenge
– Acting reckless or engaging in risky activities, seemingly without thinking
– Dramatic mood changes
Suicide Prevention Awareness Month reminds us that suicide deaths can be prevented. According to the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention, for every one person who dies by suicide in the U.S., there are approximately 278 people who move past serious thoughts of suicide and nearly 60 who have survived a suicide attempt. The overwhelming majority of these people will go on to live out their lives.
If you or a loved one is experiencing a mental health crisis or thoughts of suicide, help is available 24/7 through the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK, or go to your nearest emergency room.
For more information about counseling and resources contact the EAP at 425-454-3003 or 1-800-648-5834.
When natural disasters strike, employees often look to Human Resources for answers to their questions. Disasters can create havoc, uncertainty and logistical problems within a company if there are not procedures already in place.
With forest fires raging in the West and hurricanes simultaneously lashing the Gulf and East Coasts, emergency management and disaster response are front and center on many people’s minds right now. To help employers cope with whatever disaster strikes next, here are some valuable resources we found on the HRHero.com website and are sharing with their permission:
If any of your employees are experiencing trauma from the current forest fires or other natural disasters, the EAP can help. Contact us at 1-800-648-5834 or locally at 425-454-3003.
Depression in teens has become extremely common. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, research indicates that roughly 3 million adolescents ranging from ages 12 to 17 have experienced at least one major depressive episode within the past year. Teen depression is a mental health problem that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest in daily activities. It can affect how your teenager thinks, feels and behaves, and it can even cause emotional, functional, and physical problems.
Issues such as peer pressure, academic expectations, and changing bodies will inevitably bring ups and downs. Yet, for some teens, the lows are more than just a fleeting emotional state. Depression in teens isn’t a weakness or something that can be overcome with willpower and “tough love.” Serious cases can require long-term medical treatment and threaten dire consequences. However, for most teens that are beginning to chronically “feel low,” depressive symptoms can greatly improve with the help of weekly therapeutic counseling.
For parents attempting to approach the challenging and delicate task of raising a teen who struggles with depression, it can be helpful to keep these six guide rules in mind:
•Be Genuine – Engage in “real talk” with your teen, both about struggles and ambitions.
•Give Space – Teens need space to grow and gain independence from parents.
•Be Curious – Pay attention and show interest in your teen’s life and inner workings.
•Reserve Judgement – Don’t show anger first, display compassion and concern instead.
•Don’t Delay – If you think your teen might need help, talk with a counselor soon.
•Family Effort – Depression can’t be cured on an island. Familial support is a must.
If your teen is exhibiting signs of depression, contact the EAP for further assistance.
by Drew Thomas, MACP, CMHS, LMHC
More states legalized marijuana in the last election, with the states of California, Nevada, Maine and Massachusetts, joining early adopters Washington, Oregon, Alaska and Colorado in legalizing adult recreational marijuana. Washington, DC also legalized the use in 2015.
In addition many states expanded or voted to approve the use of medical marijuana. According to the Marijuana Policy Project, a pro-legalization group, medical marijuana is legal in 29 states and Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and Guam. More states are expected to vote in favor of legalized marijuana in 2017.
According to Tamara Cagney, the president of the Employee Assistance Professionals Association, the important focus for Employee Assistance professionals is that marijuana remains a Schedule I drug under the Federal Controlled Substances Act, which means that it is neither lawful to use or possess as a matter of federal law. None of these new legalization efforts aim to change state employment law, employers in the affected states will no doubt be faced with a chorus of questions about how the changes will affect enforcement of their workplace substance abuse policies. If you have concerns about how this impacts your company policies, contact an employment attorney with knowledge about drug testing policies.
If you are a current client with employees who test positive, the EAP can help with a Return to Work Agreement, assessing and referring employees for treatment if needed, and monitoring them for up to two years. If you would like more information about drug testing in general, contact us at 1-800-648-5834 or locally at 425-454-3003.
The opioid epidemic has arrived at work with employers evolving their benefits offerings to help fight prescription drug abuse in the workplace, according to a new survey from the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans.
The Mental Health and Substance Abuse Benefits: 2016 Survey Results reports that one in four employers (26%) have conducted a prescription drug claims analysis to identify possible abuse, and nearly that many (24%) are considering a claims analysis.
Employers are supporting workers who are dealing with substance abuse by providing a number of treatment options. Of organizations providing substance abuse treatment benefits, 89% cover outpatient in-person treatment sessions, and 85% include inpatient hospital or clinic treatment. Other commonly provided options include prescription drug therapies (67%), inpatient residential treatment centers (67%), outpatient telemedicine treatment services (55%) and referrals to community services (41%).
A third of employers (33%) say that prescription drug addiction is at least somewhat prevalent among their workforce and the majority (67%) believe that substance abuse challenges are greater now than five years ago.
If your company is experiencing problems with employee substance abuse, please call the EAP for help and guidance.
From the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans
The 2016 Presidential election continues to be a topic of great debate whether it is at home, in the community or at work. Sometimes differing opinions can create conflict, tensions and downright hostility. These issues can arise when discussing politics in the workplace and can affect productivity, morale and performance.
The American Psychological Association recently published the results of their 2017
Work and Well-Being Survey with a special focus on politics. Here are some of the key findings:
According to the survey, 26 percent of full-time and part-time employed American adults said they felt tense or stressed out as a result of political discussions at work since the election, an increase from 17 percent in September 2016 when they were asked about political discussions at work during the election season. More than one in five (21 percent) said they have felt more cynical and negative during the workday because of discussing politics in the workplace, compared with 15 percent before the election.
Half of the post-election survey respondents (54 percent) said they have discussed politics at work since the election, and for 40 percent of American workers, it has caused at least one negative outcome, such as reduced productivity, poorer work quality, difficulty getting work done, a more negative view of coworkers, feeling tense or stressed out, or increased workplace hostility. This is a significant increase from the pre-election survey data, when 27 percent reported at least one negative outcome.
Nearly one-third (31 percent) said they had witnessed coworkers arguing about politics, and 15 percent said they have gotten into an argument themselves. More than 24 percent said they avoided some coworkers because of their political views. About one in six experienced strained relationships as a result of political discussions at work since the election: 16 percent said they have a more negative view of coworkers; 16 percent felt more isolated from coworkers; 17 percent said team cohesiveness suffered; and 18 percent reported an increase in workplace hostility.
If your employees are experiencing conflict at work and political debates are affecting work performance, the EAP can provide confidential assistance.
From the American Psychological Association.
Rude behavior at work tends to have a contagious effect and spread from one employee to another, according to a study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology. Incivility can leave employees feeling mentally fatigued, thus reducing their self-control and leading them to act in a similar uncivil manner.
Researchers also found that rude behavior is more common in workplaces that are perceived as political, defined as employees doing what is best for themselves and not the organization. In highly political environments, motives and actions are less clear so employees have to try and figure out why they are being targeted and how to respond. This mental fatigue saps energy and makes it difficult to control negative impulses. Other situations may also contribute to rude behavior such as workload, industry competitiveness, and whether employees have enough time to do their work. Even when employees want to be civil with their co-workers, rude behavior can make these employees lash out, as well.
Rude behavior qualifies as a performance problem. To help stop condescending behavior, the study’s authors suggest offering staff clear feedback on acceptable behavior in either a formal or informal manner. For more information about dealing with this issue at your workplace, please contact us.
While the holidays can be a time of joy, celebration and connection with family and friends, it can also be a very stressful season. There is a lot of added pressure during this time of year, from social obligations and expectations, to worries about finances and strained family relationships. If you are having difficulties coping with holiday stress, the following are some tips from WebMD.
Know your spending limit. Lack of money is one of the biggest causes of stress during the holiday season. This year, set a budget, and don’t spend more than you’ve planned. It’s okay to tell your child that a certain toy costs too much. Don’t buy gifts that you’ll spend the rest of the year trying to pay off.
If you will be alone for the holidays or feel depressed, stessed or anxious, it might be a good time to seek professional help. Here are some resources for assistance and if you are interested in providing an Employee Assistance Program, we can definitely help your employees who are having difficulty this time of year.
Suicide Prevention Hotline: 800-273-8255
Veterans Suicide Hotline: 800-273-8255
Domestic Violence Hotline: 800-799-7233
If your company does drug testing and one of your employees tests positive, it is important to know how to proceed.
First, you should follow your drug testing policy. Do you have a pre-employment policy? Do you have a “zero tolerance” policy, which means you would terminate the employee immediately? Do you offer a “last chance agreement”? Does your policy allow you to rehire the employee after a period of time once he has been terminated under zero tolerance? There are many things to consider when deciding how to handle drug use in your workplace.
As an employee assistance provider with over 20 years of experience working with employers, employees and drug testing programs, we strongly recommend the following:
If you are thinking about starting a drug testing program or engaging the services of an EAP, we can offer affordable, professional services for companies of any size. Contact us for more information. at 425-557-0907.
A co-worker stays late every day even where this nothing to do, a sales associate appears tired and distracted, a manager offers to travel frequently to get out of town. These employees may all be experiencing domestic violence- which is physical, sexual, verbal or emotional abuse by an intimate partner. While domestic violence is a criminal issue- we know that almost one in 3 homicide victims is killed by an intimate partner; it is also a social, health and business issue. Domestic violence leads to reduced productivity, increases absenteeism and increases health care costs. Unless employers are trained to understand it and look for it, domestic violence in the workplace will generally go unnoticed. Some employers are also reluctant to get involved. They may think it is a personal issue, fear retaliation from the offender, or feel ill equipped to handle the situation.
Nearly a quarter of employed women have reported that domestic violence has impacted their work performance at some point in their lives. This is a staggering statistic! This means that chances are right now, in your workplace, there are people who are experiencing violence in their intimate relationships and you are probably not aware of it. In the U.S. 24 percent of adult women and 14 percent of adult men have been assaulted buy a partner at some point in their lives. It is the most common cause of injury in women ages 18-44. Domestic violence leads to chronic disease. Abused women are 70 percent more likely to have heart disease, 80 percent are more likely to experience a stroke and 60 percent are more likely to develop asthma.
Domestic violence costs $8.3 billion in annual expenses- a combination of higher medical costs ($5.8 billion) and lost productivity ($2.5 billion). Addressing this issue could save thousands of lives and billions of dollars. As long as the symptoms and consequences of domestic abuse go undetected, nothing changes.
Since employees spend the majority of their waking hours at work, employers are ideally suited to recognize the symptoms of domestic violence and intervene. Providing assistance and support should be a requirement of the responsibility of all employers to provide a safe and healthy workplace. In addition, employers need to ensure that domestic violence doesn’t spill into the workplace where a violent partner could seek to harm the victim or co-workers at work. Employers can take action by raising awareness, training managers and supervisors to recognize symptoms and behaviors in victims. They can provide resources and support as part of the company’s requirement to maintain a safe work environment. Information about domestic violence and resources for help should be posted in common areas and shared at every employee orientation. Domestic violence is a complex issue. Many times a victim will reconcile with the abuser many times, despite the help of others. It can be very difficult to leave an abusive relationship for many reasons including financial, fear of being killed, lack of support or resources or self esteem issues. Oftentimes, a victim is most at risk for harm after he or she leaves the relationship. Employers need to address this issue with respect and compassion, without judgment or the threat of job loss for coming forward.
The EAP can offer trainings about domestic violence awareness. Employers can assist employees with restraining orders, changing their work locations or schedule and a safety plan, as well as alerting co-workers if a victim’s partner should come to the workplace. Feel free to consult with the EAP about ways we can assist you with awareness, education and assistance for all employees who may be facing violence in their intimate relationships.
For more information visit nomore.org
Information for this blog was taken from the article “Domestic Violence the Secret Killer that Costs $8.3 Billion Annually” by Dr. Robert Pearl from Forbes.com Dec. 5, 2013