Sara DePasquale on November 20th, 2014

Written by: Sara DePasquale, Marketing Coordinator

Every year International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day is held. This day is for anyone who is affected by suicide loss and is to provide comfort in meeting at local events in communities for healing and support.

This day was originated when Senator Harry Reid, a survivor of his father’s suicide, announced in 1999 a new resolution into the US Senate. With its passage, the US Congress selected the Saturday before Thanksgiving to have “National Survivors of Suicide Day.”

What can these events do for you? If you or a loved one is affected by a suicide loss, you can attend a local event to hear stories told from people at all stages of healing. These events also allow new participants a chance to share their own stories, which can be very helpful in the healing process.

If you would like to find a Survivor Day event in your area, please visit: or for those who cannot attend any events, you can visit to join live events online.

To get more information regarding depression or getting help, please visit or

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Colleen OBrien on November 5th, 2014
photo by: dreamstine

photo by: dreamstine

Written by: Colleen O’Brien, LPC

“A mirror provides an objective reflection, but an eye is selective and subjective” -Text on placard by Magritte’s “The False Mirror” painting

The Magritte exhibit at the Chicago Art Institute was mind-bending. Painted items with the “wrong” names underneath, men chasing a flying item with a cricket bat on a tiled floor while enlarged children’s toys floated around, and a man with a nose that flowed into what we would assume was his pipe were among the images. I knew I had always liked Salvador Dali, but after this experience, the surrealist movement as a whole provokes my curiosity. This is not as surprising as after some light research I learned that the movement was based on some ideas of Sigmund Freud. Art and psychology combine in an effort to encourage freethinking in the masses.

Through provocative images and ideas to challenge the mind, surrealist artists created a way to push people past the boundaries of what is expected and normal. Their movement, in direct rebuttal to using logic and reason that they felt led us to World War I, possessed the goals of encouraging people to open their minds, realize that things are not always as they appear to be, and overall, to revolutionize human experience. We can apply this approach to our own lives and encourage flexibility with our thoughts and our interpretation of activities in our environment.

What would it be like if we no longer believed the negative self-talk that can occur when we are struggling within our relationships, our work, or ourselves? What if a break up with the person of your dreams does not mean there is something wrong with your personality? What if that bad relationship pattern you can’t seem to get out of doesn’t mean you are a loser? What if your struggle with addiction does not mean you are a weak person? What if that negative review at work is not necessarily a reflection of your talent? What if your lack of desire for commitment does not mean you are a flawed human being? What if another’s negative opinion of you holds absolutely no validity? What if experiencing anxiety while taking in the beautiful sites on your European vacation doesn’t mean you’re crazy or abnormal?

Of course there is a difference between denial and automatic negative assumptions. It is important to look at ourselves, practice self-reflection, and to be honest. These practices help us to be in touch with who we are and what we want for our lives. When we know what we want, we can take steps to achieve it.

When we lift judgment and preconceived ideas, we give ourselves a chance to explore and freedom to be who we are without negative ramifications. By taking our thinking to this level we create the opportunity to experience our true nature, without judgment and logic leading the way.

Theoretically, changing the way we view things can sound like an easy task. For most of us, it actually takes a lot of practice.

To get more information regarding Perception, feel free to email Colleen or visit her other blog post, The Power of Perception.

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Sara DePasquale on October 28th, 2014
image by: dreamstine

image by dreamstine

Written by: Sara DePasquale, Marketing Coordinator

The holidays are approaching. The time when we are supposed to be celebrating togetherness and joy, however, this time of year can be very hard on our physical and emotional health. Whether its candy & snacks at work, a lot of travel time or not getting enough sleep– we all struggle to stay healthy during this time.  Besides getting the obvious flu vaccine, check out some of our tips on how you can help your body weather the season.

Eat healthy & be active. Try to only eat when hungry & stay active! Whether it’s a walk with your dog or a morning jog to get up and move your legs – this will help balance you mentally and physically.

Wash your hands often. Getting sick around the holidays is not fun. Make sure to carry anti-bacterial or wash your hands often. When shopping, try not to touch any escalator handrails. “In our testing, we have found food, E. coli, urine, mucus, feces, and blood on escalator handrails,” says Charles Gerba, Ph.D., a professor of environmental microbiology at the University of Arizona “And where there is mucus, you may also find cold and flu viruses.” Philip Tierno, Ph.D., director of clinical microbiology and immunology at New York University Langone Medical Center concurs: “We’ve found respiratory flora on handrails,” he says, “which makes sense because people cough into their hands, then touch the rails.” Especially with everything going on right now with Ebola – make sure to wash your hands frequently!

Get rest.  Sleep is one of the most important factors when staying healthy—and what better way to catch up on sleep than on your days off? “If you run yourself ragged and don’t get a good night’s sleep, you risk getting ill just because you’ve worn down your body’s defenses,” Dr. Leavey says.

Stay hydrated. Drink lots of water and take a multi-vitamin or Vitamin C to keep your defenses high. Staying well-hydrated helps keeps bacteria & viruses out of our systems. Also, decaf green tea can be soothing and has immune-boosting antioxidants.

Snack smart. We all snack, but maybe try to avoid snacking on sweets as much as you can. I know it’s especially hard around the holidays, but try to limit yourself. Instead of snacking on sweets, check out some super foods that are nutritious and will enhance your mood!

To find more tips on Holiday health, visit: , email Sara DePasquale or visit our Working World Café blog.

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Jonathan Eisler on October 23rd, 2014

Written by: Jonathan Eisler, Director of Perspectives Organizational Consulting Group

I’m sure you’re read recent articles discussing the changing make-up of the workforce and how work gets done. You’ve undoubtedly seen plenty of  news programs discussing how organizations should respond to the fact that 30+% of the workforce will be retiring in the next few years, or what to expect when Generation Z joins the working ranks in the next decade, or how employees are facing undue stress as the result of increased performance expectations/demands.  In case that wasn’t enough uncertainty, following the recent recession, businesses have learned that they must adapt how they operate and how they are structured if they want to exist tomorrow.  Not only are we all exposed to these changes in print and on TV, the majority of us deal with these exact challenges at least 5 days out of the week.

The theme here is change. Change is never easy and when faced with change, we can either roll with it or dig in and fight. Given that those who decide to fight organizational change rather than adapt won’t be around next year, Perspectives is focused on determining how we can help others effectively manage the chaos associated with change.

At Perspectives Ltd we are passionate about supporting organizations in every way possible to enable fully engaged workforces.  To best do this,  towards the end of 2013 we surveyed our network to see what organizational changes they were experiencing, or expecting, so that we could ensure we had the right support resources available for their needs. Below are the findings related to the question “what changes will your organization have experienced in 2013-2014?”

  • Growth = 100%
  • Change Within Senior Leadership = 60%
  • Lay-Offs = 56%
  • Restructuring = 44%
  • Merger or Acquisition = 22%

Given the above responses from last year and the new reality that organizations must do more with less (ie-lean), it’s no surprise that the majority of our organizational consulting engagements this year (2014) have been around:

  • Helping organizations shift from yesterday’s culture to one that meets the new demands of today and tomorrow.
  • Assisting organizations in managing their image and sustaining the engagement levels of retained employees by providing outplacement workshops and individual career transition services for those being let go.
  • Providing management/leadership with formalized training through one-on-one coaching and custom designed management development programs.
  • Educating leadership on attracting, developing, retaining and engaging their multi-generational workforce.

What changes is your organization facing? What have you found to be helpful in managing the chaos associated therewith? What is leadership still scratching their heads about? What do you see coming down the pipeline for 2015?

In case you are looking for some guidance about how to adapt to the changing demands of the evolving workforce, you should check out the first webinar in our 3-part series on the topic that will be held on October 28th. You can register at, or to get more information regarding the webinar or post, please email Jonathan Eisler.

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Working World Cafe on October 21st, 2014

breast cancer awareness monthWritten by Adria Passey

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  In recent years, the numerous campaigns to raise awareness about Breast Cancer have sent forth a sea of pink – it seems like everything is available in pink, from clothes to appliances, jewelry to cars.

So, is it working? Do you know the facts about Breast Cancer? If you are a woman, do you know your risk factors? Have you been screened?  Do you have an early detection plan? If you’re a man, have you encouraged the women in your life to get screened and have an early detection plan?

Breast Cancer Facts:

1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with Breast Cancer in her lifetime.

It is the second leading cause of death for women, and it is the most common diagnosed cancer for women.

Breast Cancer will kill more than 40,000 women in the US and more than 500,000 worldwide this year.

And, despite the plethora of pink, it’s not just women:  410 men die each year from Breast Cancer too.

Some of the risk factors for Breast Cancer are both obvious and avoidable: a poor diet, smoking, drinking alcohol, being sedentary and hormone replacement therapy. More good reasons to eat your fruits and veggies and get in some exercise. Then there are some risk factors we can’t do anything about: our genetics, age, race, and family history among them.

However, one of the scary facts about Breast Cancer is that 60-70% of victims have no connection to any of these risk factors at all! In other words, avoiding risk is important, but it’s not enough. Early detection can be key to saving your life.

There is good news: mortality rates from Breast Cancer have been steadily decreasing, partly due to better screening and earlier detection, and also because of more advanced treatment options. More good news: when Breast Cancer is diagnosed early, the 5 year survival rate can be as high as 98%.

Breast Cancer Awareness

Reduce Your Risk: Don’t smoke, limit alcohol, stay active, eat fruits and veggies, and maintain a healthy weight.

Learn: Go to and learn the facts.

Ask questions:

Plan:  Go to and make a plan. Encourage all the women in your life to do the same.


To get more information regarding Breast Cancer Awareness, please email Adria Passey or visit

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Written by: Terry Cahill Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Principal

You might think that it would be hard to find opportunities in this environment.  Though not as highly rated, there were also factors positively impacting Client Retention and New Sales, as follows:

39% – EAP Product Improvements

38% – New Strategic Partnerships

35% – New Product Offerings

35% – Enhanced Broker Engagement

30% – Enhanced Technological Delivery Capability

External EAPs are improving their current service delivery through efforts like SBIRT (Screening, Brief Intervention, Referral to Treatment) which improves clinical intervention with substance abuse cases through motivational interviewing, thus increasing the identification of cases with high impact on the workplace.  Others are creating new products such as those targeting workforce segments which have not traditionally utilized EAP services like physicians.  External EAPs are also integrating their services into their client organizations’ wellness efforts, through both internally developed products and strategic placement of the EAP within a separate wellness vendor’s product.

This wellness integration ranges from EAP seminar attendance counting toward employee wellness requirements to the EAP being used as a front end assessor of high-risk medical cases to determine if any EAP or WorkLife services might help these individuals with comorbid mental health or life cycle issues in order to better prepare them for taking advantage of wellness coaching services.  Enhanced broker engagement has included offering coaching assistance from the EAP to employees attempting to negotiate health care exchanges, allying the EAP more closely with the focus of the broker community.  And technological advances include ecounseling and other employee engagement platforms, including video counseling as discussed by Tom Farris, PhD, of Claremont Partners and Stan Granberry, PhD, of the National Behavioral Consortium in the 4th quarter 2013 issue of The Journal of Employee Assistance.

Not all doom and gloom, but rather signs of healthy entrepreneurship.  Despite the pricing, broker education, outcomes measurement and IT challenges indicated by NBC survey respondents, the following response to the question about whether respondents were pessimistic or optimistic about the future of the EAP field indicates that there are still opportunities for external EAP vendors willing to evolve.

83% of respondents indicated they are Optimistic or Very Optimistic about the future of the EAP field.

Why?  Survey respondents gave the following reasons in the open field provided:

  • Expanding role in psychosocial aspect of behavior change
  • Focus on behavioral risk management
  • Filling the Wellness Gap
  • Technology facilitates EAP reach

To close, I’d like to tie these reasons for optimism to two opportunities for the EAP field that Kathy Mahieu, AON/Hewitt’s Behavioral Health Chief, has challenged us with.  The first is the Wellness Gap.  Per AON/Hewitt’s 2011 Employer Survey, the #1 employer desired benefit-related outcome is to increase the “utilization of wellness and prevention” in order to drive down healthcare costs.  And the #1 challenge to achieving this goal is “motivating (wellness) participants to promote behavior change” (AON Hewitt 2012 Health Care Survey).  This is the Wellness Gap.  And it is creating a focus on behavioral risk management and the psychosocial aspects of behavior change.  And behavior change is the expertise of EAP.  There are many approaches to leveraging EAP behavioral expertise, but the point is EAPs could potentially fill this wellness gap and by virtue of working with customer organizations at one of their main points of pain, extend EAP reach with executives in client organizations, one of the current difficulties identified for external EAP vendors in this survey.

Kathy Mahieu’s second challenge, per her presentation at NBC’s Fall 2012 Conference, is for EAPs to become proactive case finders, to go beyond waiting for cases to come to us in response to program promotion efforts, and actually reach out to potential end users, employees and family members and supervisors, to identify people that need our services.  Key to this proactive case finding is technology.  Technology that enables access to the EAP.  Technology that reaches employee populations with screening tools.  Technology that provides self-service platforms to support behavioral change.  All of these can support the core competencies that have been, and will continue to be, the foundation on which the External EAP industry continues to build. 


 Whether by addressing the Wellness Gap, becoming proactive case finders or through other innovations, the EAP field can and is building on its legacy of assistance to organizations and individuals.  In the meantime, the NBC Industry Profile of EAP Vendors study provides a set of metrics to which purchasers, brokers and vendors can compare their current EAP data.  The study also provides differentiation amongst EAP vendors within the current EAP marketplace, particularly based on variations in dominant pricing model, for purchasers interested in generating EAP utilization and/or integrating the EAP into the workplace.

To get more information regarding the EAP Utilization Data and Trends blog post series, you can email Terry Cahill or visit To read the other parts of the blog post, please visit Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, or Part 6 now!

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Bernie Dyme on October 15th, 2014

ndsd logoWritten by: Bernie Dyme

Last Thursday, 10/9/2014 was National Depression Screening Day.  It came and it went.  So, what now?  One benefit of a national day like this is that it gains awareness of depression.  The problem however, is that it then recedes back into the shadows.

Unfortunately, in my opinion, this defeats the purpose.  We need to keep the discussion going.  This is not a problem for only one day of the year, but one that is of epidemic proportions. Major depressive disorder (MDD) is the second leading cause of disability worldwide. Furthermore, suicide (which is one of the risks of untreated depression) is the 11th leading cause of death in the U.S., accounting for 30,000 deaths each year.

Tips on treating depression

  1. Encourage your employees to seek and get help.
  2. Talk about mental wellness and health with your employees, family and friends.
  3. If you see someone struggling with sadness, depression or anxiety, go up to them and ask how they are doing. Let them know you care.
  4. Go to the Screening for Mental Health website for more ideas.

Remember that we all can help each other and should.  So I encourage you to keep this conversation going.  Feel free to comment on this post.  The more we can dialogue about this, the more we can help the people who are suffering.

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Kathi Blaszkiewicz on October 14th, 2014

job burnoutWritten by: Kathi Blaszkiewicz, Director Account Management

Were you someone who used to love your job but now find yourself struggling to stay engaged?  Have you shifted from being a workplace cheerleader to a “Debbie downer?”  Are you physically exhausted and weary of the day to day responsibilities of your position?   You may be experiencing a chronic form of stress called job burnout.  Causes of professional burnout can vary but often have to do with lack of control, unclear job expectations, poor workplace communication, difficult managers and/or a mismatch of values between the beliefs of employees and the actions of work organizations. Over time, these occupational factors can take a toll and result in serious chronic stress reactions affecting people’s productivity.

If you recognize yourself in those brief questions it may be time to examine your own situation.  Those of us who have always been “worker bees” and dedicated employees are at greater risk and may find it harder to admit to job burnout.  The best we can do for ourselves is to be mindful that we could be vulnerable and incorporate prevention strategies.

Prevention strategies that might help

  1. Recognize when your passion has turned to poison – Christina Maslach, Ph.D. She states that you might be burned out if the work you were passionate about now feels like a burden.
  2. Honestly evaluate your situation and your options. In this way you increase your empowerment quotient.
  3. Take time for yourself daily. This can range from a 2 minute breathing exercise 3 times per day to a 5 minute walk to going to bed 30 minutes early.
  4. Manage the stressors that are contributing to the work situation. Identify what is fueling the burnout. If you have an EAP, you can use short term counseling to develop strategies to address the issues.
  5. Utilize your support system. Often we are afraid to admit our feelings and this adds to isolation.
  6. Increase your social activities and/or your creative side. In this way you increase work life balance.  The goal is to be mindful that work is only a part of your life and it does not define you as a human being.

Hard workers that, not only come to work every day but show up to work every day, understand that their contribution is part of a greater whole that can “make or break” the success of the organization.  Don’t let yourself be a victim of job burnout. Recognize the signs and take the steps you need to continue to be the best you can be.

To get more information on job burnout email Kathi Blaszkiewicz at, or visit




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Survey Results – Challenges & Opportunities

Written by: Terry Cahill Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Principal

There are clear challenges for the external EAP industry and the Business Management section of the NBC survey that looked at Most Difficult Internal Operations for external vendors underscores them.  Depicted below are the three main difficulties identified by percentage of respondents indicating High or Very High Difficulty, difficulty defined as high monetary and time commitment.

51% – Educating Brokers on EAP Value

49% – Outcomes Measurement Strategy

47% – Maintaining IT

If it was like a Chicago election, where you vote as often as possible and even from the grave, it might have been me that drove Educating Brokers on the Value of EAP to the top of this list since I am primarily in a sales role.  Suffice to say, there are many brokers who understand that there are different levels of EAP service delivery across varying types of vendors, but there are also brokers who reduce EAP to a spreadsheet that doesn’t necessarily compare the pertinent variables or ask the right questions.  Of course, that second on the list is the EAP industry’s own struggle with proving value doesn’t acquit the field itself on this count.

Maintaining pace with IT, both in support of internal operations and in meeting the growing expectation for use of technology in service delivery, is a challenge.  As EAP end-users become more and more accustomed to simple internet and app access to services, they will expect this from EAP as well.

These challenges come at a time when new sales and client retention in EAP are threatened.  According to the NBC Survey, the #1 factor impacting client retention and new sales is Product Pricing.  Survey respondents rated this item High or Very High far more often than any other item.

74% – Product Pricing

39% – next item

And when surveyed about the factors impacting Client Erosion, the two items rated most often as High or Very High were:

45% – Switch to “Free EAP”

44% – Price Competition

To find out why EAP vendors remain optimistic despite these challenges, check out our last blog in the series that will be published next week. Catch up on previous blog posts 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 now!

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Working World Cafe on October 7th, 2014

Working Mom-worklifeWritten by Lindsey Patrick, Access Center & EAP Counselor Intern

Mindfulness and work/life balance are popular topics these days. Mindfulness can be difficult to achieve and balance is often elusive. I have personally experienced this balancing act as, over the past 1 1/2 years, I have had to balance working full-time, attending graduate school part time and maintaining a household. Here are some things I have learned in my quest to maintain balance.

  • Schedule your time and write it down. Writing down your daily schedule will help you visualize how you parcel out your time. Blocking out space for your daily tasks will help ensure you don’t pack too much into one day. Writing down your schedule will free up mental energy otherwise spent on remembering your tasks. Don’t forget to schedule time to organize your schedule!
  • Create routines within your busy schedule.  Wake up and go to bed at the same time every day. Exercise at the same time every day. Have a bedtime routine.
  • Focus on one task at a time. This is a core concept of mindfulness. When you’re at work, don’t think about how you’re going to make time for dinner. When you’re at home, don’t think about work. When you’re exercising, focus only on muscle movements and breathing.
  • Prioritize tasks. Know which must be completed and which can wait.
  • Listen to your body. Busy schedules cause stress; stress can cause health issues. Know your limits and do not ignore the emergence of a cough, fever, etc. Your body can serve as a signal for when you’re overextending yourself.
  • Know when to cut back, say “no or ask for help. Know your limits and acknowledge when you have to cut back on workloads, course loads, etc. Your priority list will help you identify something you can put off or delegate to somebody else.
  • Prioritize “me time. You cannot take care of others or your tasks if you don’t take care of yourself. Self-care will help build resilience and combat burnout.

Maintaining balance can help make you a better employee, student, partner, friend. Maintaining balance will also help maintain your mental and physical health.

To get more information regarding balance among chaos, email Lindsey Patrick or visit

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