Sunday, April 21, 2024

Alcoholics can turn to EAP


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GOVERNMENT WORKERS  who are hooked on alcohol have been urged to seek help through a special programme within the Office of Public Sector Reform.
Communications officer with that Government department, Jennifer Best, made the appeal and brought attention to the employee assistance programme (EAP) following disclosure by an official of the National Council on Substance Abuse (NCSA), on Tuesday, that one in every six public sector employees engages in binge drinking.
The EAP, established more than a decade ago, provides confidential, professional counselling services for employees  experiencing difficult personal and work related problems.
“Alcoholism is a problem and it is recognized in the workplace and the managers, where they see it’s a problem, can refer the individual for counselling, or the individual can go to the counselling services anonymously. We want people to utilize their services,” Best told the DAILY NATION yesterday.
“It also provides an environment for family members who are affected by alcoholism to go and they can also get counselling.”
Best said that since the inception of the EAP in 1998, over 5 000 public officers had used the counselling services.
However, she said she could not say how many of them had sought help to beat alcoholism.
In a previous interview with the MIDWEEK NATION, NCSA’s research and information officer Jonathan Yearwood said that a yet to be released study showed that 40 per cent of Government workers consumed alcohol, while 15 per cent have a drinking problem, consuming five or more alcoholic beverages within a two-hour period.
He had expressed concern about the lack of programmes to assist workers struggling with their alcoholism.
However, Best stressed that the EAP was “really one of our most successful programmes”.
“It’s successful because people know it’s confidential. They don’t go into a Government building, they don’t go to any Government employee set-up, it’s a private counselling environment and we only know by the National Insurance number who has gone, and that is just for purposes of payment.
So there’s nothing discussed with us about the sessions,” she stressed.
Under the EAP, Government pays for three private counselling sessions for an employee. Any services required after that are provided to the worker at a discounted cost.
In addition to personal and work-related problems, the EAP also provides counselling for employees in the event of other critical incidents which can take a psychological toll.
Best explained that, for example, caregivers at the scene of horrible accidents, such as EMTs, firemen, and police, had special provisions to receive counselling free of cost. (DP)


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