The following are some trends that have emerged from people calling in to employee assistance programs.
- Loneliness is causing increased mental health issues. This seems to be an underlying theme if clients are far from their support systems or have spent a lot of time alone. Issues from the past, including previous trauma or unresolved mental health issues, appear to be resurfacing in a major way.
- There is considerable grief and loss, particularly around COVID-19. There have been calls for grief counseling related to the difficulty of coping with not being able to hold memorial services and funerals.
- There is significant work stress, both for essential workers going to the workplace (usually medical personnel concerned about if there is sufficient PPE or having to work forced overtime) as well as staff not deemed essential but currently working at home and feeling anxious about how things will be different as they transition back to the workplace.
- Relationship problems. EAP has seen a lot of interpersonal conflict leading to requests for couples counseling or one partner calling in wanting to explore legal services for separation/divorce. Counselors are screening for domestic violence concerns, and occasionally clients confirm domestic violence.
- Increased substance use calls. Clients have identified increased substance use, with alcohol use in particular.
- Parenting stress. Calls usually involve young children at home and discuss uncertainty of how parents can support childrens’ anxieties about the pandemic. There are also new obstacles, such as parents concerned about whether their older children will be able to proceed with attending college in person as planned in the fall.