Your employer may offer mental health benefits you don’t know about

Reporter: Corey Lazar Writer: Joey Pellegrino
Published: Updated:
Man working in office.

Your mental wellbeing is at the forefront of extra healthcare benefits at work. You may have free counseling sessions available to take advantage of right now, all paid for by your job. But there are concerns about privacy and opening up to people at work.

Maribeth Lichty has been a mental health counselor for more than 30 years. Recently, she’s busier than ever before and she’s noticed an increase in people using their employee assistance program benefits for therapy.

“I have had a couple people call in because loved ones have died from covid-19,” Lichty said. “It seems that what’s happened is, even if I don’t see something specific to the pandemic, that it has just exacerbated whatever was already there.

You may not even know you have these benefits to use from your employer. Lichty says more people would probably use them if they did know.

“An employee assistance program is something that the company that you work for purchases,” Lichty said. “They purchase a certain number of, say, mental health visits along with maybe some other benefits like legal and financial consultations.”

Another issue: People may purposefully not use these benefits for their mental health due to the persistent stigma against acknowledging such issues

“It’s even more taboo to talk about within the workplace,” Lichty said.

Darren Brooks studies EAP benefits at Florida State University. His research found that people fear details from their therapists will make their way back to their employers.

“The concern is, because it’s an employer-offered program, that it might not have the same level of confidentiality [as], say, if I went through my traditional health care plan for mental health services,” Brooks said.

In speaking with Maribeth Lichty, WINK News found this fear had no basis; she says she could not even disclose to an employer that an employer had seen her in the first place.

“The fact that somebody comes to see me is confidential,” Lichty said. “If somebody calls up and says, ‘Hey, is So-and-So your client?’ I can’t tell them. I say, ‘I can’t reveal that information, either confirm or deny.'”

The only way a counselor would tell an employer about an employee visit is if it was a mandatory counseling session to stay employed.

If you are struggling or if you know a loved one who is in trouble, there is help and you are not alone. There is free and immediate support available 24/7. Below is a list of important resources:

In An Emergency

If you or a loved one is in immediate danger call 911. It is important to notify the operator that it is a psychiatric emergency and ask for an officer trained in crisis intervention or trained to assist people experiencing a psychiatric emergency.

National Suicide Prevention Hotline
1-800-273-TALK (8255)

If you or someone you know is in crisis—whether they are considering suicide or not—please call the toll-free Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) to speak with a trained crisis counselor 24/7.

Crisis Text Line – Text NAMI to 741-741

Connect with a trained crisis counselor to receive free, 24/7 crisis support via text message.

National Domestic Violence Hotline – Call 800-799-SAFE (7233)

Trained expert advocates are available 24/7 to provide confidential support to anyone experiencing domestic violence or seeking resources and information. Help is available in Spanish and other languages.

National Sexual Assault Hotline – Call 800-656-HOPE (4673)

Connect with a trained staff member from a sexual assault service provider in your area that offers access to a range of free services. Crisis chat support is available at Online Hotline. Free help, 24/7.

Below are mental health resources available to Southwest Floridians at the national and local level.

David Lawrence Center (Collier County)

SalusCare (Lee County)

(NAMI) National Alliance on Mental Illness, Collier County

(NAMI) National Alliance on Mental Illness, Lee, Charlotte, Hendry Counties

The National Alliance for Caregiving offers a free handbook
Circle of Care: A Guidebook for Mental Health Caregivers

Collier County Mental Health Court

Lee County Mental Health Court

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Local Support Groups: Anxiety and Depression Association of America

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (Mental Health and Addiction Insurance Help)

Local veterans resource: Home Base SWFL

Copyright ©2024 Fort Myers Broadcasting. All rights reserved.

This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without prior written consent.