Your company can help your mental health |

Your company can help your mental health

KIMBERLY NICOLETTIsummit daily news
Summit Daily/Brad Odekirk

DILLON For 12 years, Pauls job as a ski patroller at Keystone stimulated him. His supervisors call him Special Agent because hes always willing to do the grunt work, such as digging out downed phone lines on the mountain.But about a year ago, he started losing interest in his job, and in activities in general. He felt sad and lonely. His friends at work would ask him what was wrong because he was so quiet. For three months, he knew he should seek professional help, but he procrastinated. Finally, he saw a medical doctor, who diagnosed him with depression. Sample antidepressants gave Paul bad side effects, so he decided to use Keystones employee assistance program to receive three free counseling sessions. Colorado West Mental Health assessed him and provided counseling and medication.He has continued counseling to deal with negative thinking, and when asked what the biggest thing he has learned is, he smiles and replies:There is so much.He has been sober for a year, pays his bills on time and has a more positive attitude toward his job. Little things dont stress him out, and hes happier in general.Anybody who needs help should get help, he said. Last week, a buddy of mine shot himself because of marital problems. I dont understand why he didnt get help.

While some employees may worry about negative effects of using the employee assistance program, most employers commend employees for getting help because the consequences of not getting help include lost productivity and more sick days used, said Sarah Pokorny, Colorado West program director.The main issues she sees through the program are drug and alcohol abuse, marital problems, depression and anxiety.While Pokorny says it usually takes more than three sessions to work through issues, Susan Ackerman, director of EAP, says three sessions are enough for most people to feel immediate relief and then rely on natural support systems, such as family, friends and exercise.Those that get help, the bulk will have improvement in work performance, Ackerman said. A happy employee is going to be more productive, get along better with coworkers and result in a better run business. Its both good business, and its the right thing to do for humans.Most businesses offer confidential treatment, meaning any employee can receive a number of sessions, and counselors bill the business without submitting the name of who came in for treatment. Other companies require that the human resource department know the name of the employee receiving treatment. Unless an employee signs a release of information, employers cannot find out about treatment or diagnosis, Ackerman said.For more information on your employee assistance program, contact your human resources department.The name of the employee receiving counseling has been changed.Kimberly Nicoletti can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 245, or at

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