For many of us, 2020 has been the most turbulent year of our lifetimes. A few months ago, the COVID-19 pandemic hit the U.S., causing innumerable losses—to lives and livelihoods. More recently, the country has experienced great social unrest in response to continued racial injustices. These events are deeply distressing and greatly affect our mental health.

Much of what we are living through today can leave us feeling afraid, helpless and uncertain about the future. If you are feeling impacted by the state of the world, know this: You are not alone, and help is available. Your mental health is important, and your Employee Assistance (EAP) can help.

Now more than ever, telehealth (using phones or the internet) has become a necessity. With the virus still active and social distancing measures still relevant for many areas of the country, counselors have quickly adapted to continue to meet the mental health needs of their clients while preventing risks to physical health. Most counselors would agree that meeting face-to-face is preferable, much like how most of us would prefer in-person conversations with loved ones rather than connecting via technology. However, we recognize that telehealth is an effective replacement for traditional counseling and an excellent resource when traditional counseling might be unavailable or not an option.

There are many reasons why you might be uncomfortable or unable to meet with a counselor in their office. Perhaps you are following CDC social distancing guidelines to minimize your risk of contracting or transmitting the virus. This might be especially important if you are immunocompromised or live with someone who is more vulnerable. Many Americans are working from home and balancing remote work with additional responsibilities, such as childcare and eldercare. Some of us are busier than ever and leaving home to commute to the counselor’s office just isn’t practical. Or perhaps you simply enjoy the convenience that telehealth provides.

Our EAP provides telephone counseling and video counseling. Video counseling is conducted via a platform like Skype or Zoom. EAP counselors are licensed mental health professionals who can provide effective emotional support via technology. They are trained in protecting your confidentiality during sessions. To ensure a successful session, they will help you learn how to download a special application to your phone or tablet.

Some people enjoy the unique benefits of video counseling and prefer it over phone counseling. Video counseling allows you to see your counselor and for them to see you. This can help you feel more comfortable and establish a deeper connection. With video counseling, nonverbal communication adds richness to the conversation. Elements like facial expressions and body language are helpful for expressing feelings and showing attentive listening. Counselors rely on nonverbal cues for insights regarding your emotions, and video counseling is great for that.

For those of us struggling to manage the stressors of today’s world, it may not be feasible to attend sessions in a counselor’s office. Thankfully, counselors are adapting, and have implemented best practices for serving clients remotely. Telephone and video counseling are wonderful benefits available for free through the FEI EAP. Our counselors are licensed, compassionate professionals who are available to listen, validate, and provide support while getting you connected with a qualified provider in your community who you can work with to address your concerns. To learn more about the FEI Employee Assistance Program, click here.