Some employers provide free or reduced cost mental health visits as part of their employee benefit package, whether or not they have employer-paid health insurance coverage. These programs are called employee assistance programs, or EAPs. You can ask your employer if they offer an EAP program.
Depending on the company and the third party EAP plan they choose, EAPs may be available to all employees, full time employees only or employees and their family members. EAPs help employees cope with issues such as mood volatility and depression, substance abuse, interpersonal relationships, serious illness, legal problems and financial stress.
If the EAP-provided counselor determines that more help is needed, he or she may refer the employee to an outside mental health professional. Some EAPs assist with work/life balance by helping employees find affordable childcare, elder care or other family support.
The services may involve in-person meetings, telephone meetings or video chat meetings. Usually, there is a cap at the total number of sessions that can be provided through the EAP.
Although the service is being paid for by the employer, the sessions will be confidential and not shared with your employer according to law.
Likewise, students attending a college or university may have access to free or affordable mental health care. Your school may offer these services through the school’s health clinic or through a separate counseling center. In addition to individual therapy, university clinics may offer support groups.
As with EAPs, the number of sessions may be limited, but the counseling centers usually have a list of therapists in the area to whom they refer patients. They may also have a support group that meets your needs.