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Health Insurance Basics

EAP 101: What Is An EAP, And How Do I Use It?

December 07, 2023

Everybody needs a helping hand sometimes. If your employer offers an Employee Assistance Program (EAP), it’s there to make your life easier, but only if you use it.

Understanding how EAPs work — and how they can improve your life — will give you the confidence to make the most of all they have to offer.

What Is An EAP?

An EAP is a voluntary benefit many employers offer alongside their health plan at no extra cost. They provide a variety of services, tools, and resources to support your daily life — from help finding child care to accessing legal advice. EAPs are widely available, but many people don’t take advantage of them.  

If you’re not sure if your employer offers an EAP, you can ask someone in your human resources department.

What Services Do EAPs Offer?

Every list of EAP services is different, but EAPs are all designed to help you deal with life’s daily issues — big and small. These are all common areas of help available through an EAP:

  • Virtual or in-person counseling sessions to help you deal with personal and work-related issues, such as stress, anxiety, depression, relationships, grief, substance use, or anger management.

  • Local resources and referrals for services such as child care, pet care, elder/adult care, and help finding housing.

  • Financial and legal help for issues such as retirement planning, divorce, debt and budgeting, and identity theft.   

  • Ways to improve your well-being, including tools, resources, or coaching for areas like weight management and emotional wellness.

What You Need To Know About Using EAP Services
You don’t need permission to take advantage of your EAP. You can use it to access confidential, immediate help at no extra cost. Let’s look at each of these advantages.

  1. They’re confidential:  Although your employer pays for the EAP, the services that come with it are provided by a third party. In fact, EAPs that you use voluntarily are confidential by law. Employers may get reports that show what percentage of employees are using the EAP overall, but the names and the specific services used are entirely private.

    There’s one exception to this: Sometimes, employers will require employees to receive counseling through their EAP if they are having behavioral issues at work. In this case, your supervisor will likely receive a report noting whether you have or have not completed sessions. Specific information from those sessions is still confidential unless there’s a concern for your safety or someone else’s. 

  2. They offer fast, 24/7 help: Because many issues happen outside of work hours, many EAPs are available 24/7/365. Your employer should have provided you with details on how to access your EAP.  If you’re not sure, ask your human resources department. Most EAPs have a toll-free phone number, website, or app.

  3. They won’t cost you anything extra to use: Initial EAP services and referrals are available to employees and, often their families, for no added charge. If you need more help or long-term counseling, you may want to ask about extra costs or for help finding counselors in your plan’s.

EAPs exist to make sure you have the support and guidance you need to succeed. Take the time to learn more about the specific benefits your EAP offers, if you have one. If you know you have an Anthem EAP, you can explore the services available to you or find help right now. Log in at  with your company code to begin.