While no crystal ball can predict your personal health, the Life Change Index Scale can help calculate your likelihood of stress in the near future.1 And when you calculate the factors that go into a travel nursing career—changes in workplace, hours, living conditions, and daily habits—you may feel the stressors of your job affecting your overall well-being.
Fortunately, employee assistance programs, or EAPs, are designed to help with short-term frustrations and changing life events that are affecting your mental health. They often provide counseling and therapy, as well as referrals and mental health resources to ensure travel nurses are receiving the support they need to protect their physical, emotional, and mental health.
In this guide, we’ll explore what are employee assistance programs and how they can support nurse mental health.
What Are the Components of an Employee Assistance Program?
What is an employee assistance program? Generally, an EAP program provides resources to employees to assist them through a personal problem or work-related situations. While specifics vary from plan to plan, EAPs often incorporate a mix of direct short term assistance and referral services, which may include:
- Confidential counseling sessions
- 24-hour telephone support lines
- Emergency counseling service for emotional support
- Web-based resources
- Discounts on various services and memberships
- An online account to track relevant resources, programs, and concerns
More specifically, Host Healthcare’s EAP provides up to six virtual or in-person counseling sessions per household for discussions around self-care, mental health, legal matters, physical health, finances, and more. Once you have been assigned a travel nurse recruiter, additional information about these programs will become available to you.
Why Are Employee Assistance Programs Important for Nurses?
Nursing poses significant physical and psychological stressors. In recent years, the healthcare sector has experienced staff shortages, heightened infection exposure, and overwhelming patient influx, increasing risks on and off the floor. While on the job, many nurses may experience:
- Physical injuries – Nurses experience higher-than-average exposure to injuries from slips and falls, workplace violence, and repetitive stress.
- Stress and burnout – Nurses often experience overwork, long shifts, and emotional strain, which can affect their focus, moods, and overall health. In an effort to help prevent travel nurse burnout, employee assistance programs come into play.
- Lack of self-care – Particularly when blended with familial responsibilities, nurses are often caring for others, even when not on the job. Oftentimes, this leaves very little time and energy for nurses to focus on their own physical fitness, emotional balance, and self-care.
EAPs can provide immediate support to nurses looking to bolster their physical, mental, and emotional health.
In addition to 24/7 counseling sessions, Host Healthcare provides its travelers with Talkspace, an online therapy platform that prioritizes our travelers’ needs above all else. We’ll match you with a licensed therapist who you can communicate with over text, audio, or video messaging.
Why Should You Use an EAP as a Resource in Travel Nursing?
Travel nursing offers ample career and life opportunities. However, making such a large transition can naturally take a toll on your mental health. That being said, travel nurses may encounter:
- Stress in an unfamiliar working environment and culture
- The emotional strain of leaving friends and family
- Tax planning concerns related to multi-state employment
- Financial planning needs based on varying income
- Legal issues around housing or other contracts
Fortunately, the short-term, focused support of an EAP can be an ideal resource to help deal with life’s stressors. In addition to therapy and counseling sessions, our team also provides our travelers with coaching sessions to walk through new role responsibilities and help manage mental health when transitioning into a new area.
What Are the Benefits of an Employee Assistance Program?
Employee assistance program benefits often exceed mental health assistance. They may also include short term counseling and referral service for practical needs, such as:
- Legal problems
- Financial coaching
- Identity theft and credit counseling
- Job performance concerns
- Relationship concerns
- Child care
- Pet care
- Elder care
- Weight and fitness management
- Smoking cessation
- COVID-19 support
Often, EAP benefits are designed to be the first call to help you figure out what is needed. You can use them as a sounding board, to express frustration and help clarify a concern, and to come up with solutions that propel your career forward.
Are There Limitations to EAPs?
EAP benefits are not generally set up for long-term therapy aid or to directly handle your ongoing financial, legal, or care needs. Oftentimes, there is a limit to the number of counseling sessions that are available to you.
There may also be limitations in regard to coverage. Some EAPs cover only the insured individual, while others may extend to the insured’s family. However, there may also be age limits if your family is also covered. For example, Host’s EPA is available to all members of the insured’s family, including dependent children up to the age of 26.
Let Host Healthcare Support Your Journey
Moving to a new location and starting a new job can often interrupt your self-care habits, which may cause extra strain on your mental and physical health. Luckily, knowing what an employee assistance program is takes you one step closer to a balanced lifestyle and addressing personal and work-related problems.
At Host Healthcare, we’re constantly searching for new ways to help support our travelers’ safety, well-being, and happiness.
Our EAP is an opt-in program available for free to all travelers who are insured through Host. It includes online resources and Talkspace, an online therapy platform that matches you with a licensed therapist that’s well-versed in your needs and concerns. We also advocate for nurses experiencing burnout to ensure their mind and body are taken care of.
With Host Healthcare, support is only a click away. Apply to discover your next travel nursing job.
Natalie Red Eagle, MSN, RN
Nursing Specialty: Labor & Delivery, Postpartum
I started as a new graduate nurse in San Diego, CA on a medical/surgical/oncology unit. After finishing the 40 week new graduate program, I transitioned onto a cardiac step down unit. Here I cared for patients before and after cardiac surgery and patients recovering from cerebral vascular accidents. While I loved this specialty, my passion has always been women’s health. My next move was to the Maternal Child Health program where I have been for almost 5 years as a labor and delivery and postpartum nurse. I have the privledge of assisting families during some of the most memorable times of their lives.
- Dartmouth Faculty/Employee Assistance Program. Life Change Index Scale (The Stress Test). https://www.dartmouth.edu/eap/library/lifechangestresstest.pdf