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What is an EAP? What does it do? Those are questions that would likely vary from person to person, bmental healthut for me it meant answers to serious concerns I was experiencing about my mental health.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) approximately 58 million Americans, or one in four adults, experience a mental health impairment in a given year. I can count myself among these Americans. During a rough period in my life in which I was out of work for nearly a year, I slowly began to realize there was more to what was going on than just being “out of work,” and so, desperate to find some answers, I sought the assistance of my wife’s EAP. After a number of talks (it was a 6-session model) I was finally diagnosed with depression and Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) in spring 2002.

What a revelation! It went a LONG way toward explaining why I was having so many work-related problems; issues that crossed over into my personal life as well. I’ll never forget how I felt when I started my medication…it was as if a veil had been lifted from my eyes. “So this is how I’m SUPPOSED to feel!” I thought. “No wonder other people are happier and enjoy life more!” (It took roughly another four months before I landed a job, but that wasn’t as big a deal as it had been because I STILL felt better – thanks to a dedicated EA professional!)

I whole-heartedly encourage ANYONE who even suspects something might be amiss with themselves mentally – or someone they know for that matter – to get checked out! It is a tremendous shame that bias and stigma remain barriers to mental health that need to be overcome. People wouldn’t leave a broken arm or a sprained ankle unattended, so why do some folks (men especially) feel that mental health is something they can just “tough out”?! You can no more resolve depression or other disorders on your own than you could that untreated arm or ankle!

In four words… Mental health IS health! Some of the great resources on this subject include:

National Alliance on Mental Illness — http://www.nami.org
Carson J Spencer Foundation – http://www.carsonjspencer.org
MentalHealth.gov – http://www.mentalhealth.gov