SOURCE: National Business Group on Health

March 04, 2009 12:30 ET

National Business Group on Health Unveils an Employer's Guide to Employee Assistance Programs

New Guide Provides Employers With Recommendations on How to Improve EAPs and Behavioral Health Benefits

WASHINGTON, DC--(Marketwire - March 4, 2009) - The National Business Group on Health, an association of more than 300 large employers, including 64 of the Fortune 100, today released "An Employer's Guide to Employee Assistance Programs." The Guide is the culmination of a nearly two-year-long study of best practices and evidence-based approaches to the design and delivery of effective and efficient employee assistance programs. It provides employers with findings, recommendations, and metrics for standardizing and improving the strategic alignment between employee assistance programs, employers' business objectives, and employee needs.

"For decades, EAPs have been providing value to employers, employees and families with various services. In fact, one can see their value by the increase of utilization of services during this recession," said Helen Darling, President of the National Business Group on Health. "Despite this recognition of the value of EAPs, there is a continued lack of definition, coordination, and the rigorous cost-impact assessment necessary for employers and their employees to understand and derive full benefit from EAPs."

Funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the study was conducted by the Employee Assistance Workgroup (EAP Workgroup), a 27-member committee of EAP, behavioral and mental health services experts.

The NBGH created the EAP Workgroup to develop recommendations to improve the coordination and integration of employee assistance programs. The Workgroup felt strongly that having an EAP aligned with an organization's values and vision would measurably enhance business operations, employee experience, and community perceptions of the company, and provide a positive return on investment.

"Mental health and substance-use conditions continue to be among the leading causes of illness and lost productivity for most large employers," stated Kathryn Power, Director of SAMHSA's Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS). "EAPs represent a first-line response to providing prevention, triage, and short-term problem-resolution services within an organization. As such, they enable employers to leverage the value of their investment in their workforce, address the costs of doing business, and mitigate business risks."

"An Employer's Guide to Employee Assistance Programs" provides employers with strategic recommendations to help them identify the key attributes of a high-performing employee assistance program that, if adopted, will protect their human capital investment by improving the health of all employees and dependents, as well as guidance on how to improve the performance of existing programs.

Specifically, the Guide details seven key challenges identified by the EAP Workgroup, along with the Workgroup's specific recommendations for addressing these challenges and recognizing the inherent opportunity in doing so. The information contained in the Guide will enable employers to:

--  enhance the quality and business value of existing programs,
--  standardize the definition of EAP and the scope of covered services to
    ensure consistent program administration,
--  improve employers' abilities to coordinate EAP roles and
    responsibilities to maximize the quality and efficiency of services, and
--  employ key metrics in support of EAP quality, integration, and
    performance.
    

Additional information about EAPs, including the complete Guide, is available at www.businessgrouphealth.org.

About the National Business Group on Health

The National Business Group on Health is the nation's only non-profit, membership organization of large employers devoted exclusively to finding innovative and forward-thinking solutions to their most important health care and related benefits issues. The NBGH identifies and shares best practices in health benefits, disability, health and productivity, related paid time off and work/life balance issues. NBGH members provide health coverage for more than 50 million U.S. workers, retirees and their families. For more information about the NBGH, visit www.businessgrouphealth.org.

About the Department of Health and Human Services' Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)

SAMHSA is the Federal agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services with the mission to build resilience and facilitate recovery for people with or at risk for substance abuse and mental illness. SAMHSA's Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS) leads national efforts to improve prevention and mental health treatment services for all Americans. CMHS pursues its mission by helping States improve and increase the quality and range of treatment, rehabilitation, and support services for people with mental health problems, their families, and communities.

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