Pros and Cons of Employee Assistance Programs For Burned Out Nurses

2 Min Read Published December 20, 2022
Pros and Cons of Employee Assistance Programs For Burned Out Nurses

According to the US Office of Personnel Management, an employee assistance program (EAP) is a “voluntary, confidential program that helps employees (including management) work through various life challenges that may adversely affect job performance, health, and personal well-being. 

EAP services include assessments, counseling, and referrals for additional services to employees with personal and/or work-related concerns, such as stress, financial issues, legal issues, family problems, office conflicts, and alcohol and substance use disorders.”

EAPs have been around since the 1940s and were initially developed to address alcohol use disorders. In the 1950’s they began to support employees with issues pertaining to mental health in addition to substance use disorders. 

What Do EAPs Offer? 

Keep in mind EAPs vary depending on your institution and work environment, but here are some of the typical offerings through EAPs. Look into yours for specifics regarding what is offered at your workplace.

  • Confidential free assessments for short-term counseling (usually 6 sessions)

  • Follow-up services or referrals for employees who have work-related or personal concerns

  • Legal assistance (with limitations)

  • Financial counseling

  • Assistance with emotional reactions to grief, trauma or loss both in or out of the workplace. 

  • Debriefing resources for difficult situations in the workplace

Pros & Cons of EAPs


  • Provides access to those with limited income and scarce resources

  • Easy access (if you know it exists!)

  • Available right away, for the most part

  • Provides mental health resources when needed

  • Low-cost or free

  • Access where otherwise access to mental resources may be hard to come by

  • Easy and generally short-term, therefore people may be more willing to use rather than find a long-term relationship with a counselor.


  • Limits to services in terms of what is available, and also how many sessions you get. This can be hard if more time is needed to move through the emotions and you have to start over with a new provider

  • Some individuals have concerns regarding confidentiality

  • Stigma and fear can limit willingness to use services 

  • Some EAPs can be hard to navigate

  • More often than not, these are not talked about as much as they should be therefore staff don’t know about them or they think it’s something it’s not

  • Often EAPs are not marketed well and staff don’t always believe these are confidential resources

  • Not every EAP is the same in regards to what they offer so you have to check with your HR department

In general, EAPs can be really helpful, especially in the acute phase of trauma, grief, loss, or panic. They are low cost if not free to the employee, and generally easy to get up and running. Even if solely used as a bridge to your next step on your mental health support journey it can be a much-needed resource if you are feeling overwhelmed and unsupported.  

You truly aren’t meant to do life or nursing alone. 

For free resources for all things nurse/NP wellbeing, burnout prevention, and setting boundaries with ease check out my website and come hang with me on Instagram @catalystforselfcare.

Diana Page
Diana Page Contributor

Diana Page, ACNP-BC, is an outpatient neurology nurse practitioner, burnout expert, and mentor helping exhausted nursing professionals have optimal work life balance through mentorship, education, empowerment, and community. She founded Selfcare Catalyst LLC in 2020 and has helped dozens of nurses find fulfillment outside of work and clarity on their place in nursing, and has connected with and supported 1000s though her social media platforms. She is a leader on topics related to Nurse/APP wellbeing and burnout and is a believer that we are more than a nurse and that we deserve care too. Diana is a self-proclaimed boundaries queen, self-care strategist and loves a good PTO day! Learn more about Diana and check out her free resources for clinician wellbeing at or check out her Instagram @catalystforselfcare where she posts daily tips to help you feel empowered to put yourself first and more fulfilled while working in healthcare.

Read More From Diana
Go to the top of page