Holidays bring increased stress for many workers, but help is available

The holidays can be a particularly stressful time for everyone. Job losses, financial troubles and workplace injuries or accidents often compound the stress faced by workers and their families.

For many union workers, help with these and other problems – substance abuse, depression, anxiety – is available through their employee assistance program, or EAP.

“We get busy around the holidays,” said John Sanchelli, founder of TEAM, an EAP that serves many of Minnesota’s Building Trades unions. “We get a rash of phone calls for depression around Christmas time, and depression can lead to suicide. So it should be a good time of the year, but it’s really a bad time of the year.”

The timing is right, then, for the workshop TEAM will host Dec. 12 on mental health, clinical depression and suicide at the Operating Engineers Local 49 Hall in St. Anthony. The program is free, open to the public and includes breakfast. (Call 651-642-0182 for details or to RSVP.)

“We had a rash of suicides recently within the Building Trades,” Sanchelli said. “It’s tough. We’re trying to stay on top of that, get the word out about things members and employers can do, things they can look for.”

Depression and chemical dependency aren’t the only issues that an EAP can help workers address. TEAM, for example, also assists workers struggling with elder care for a parent and with financial or legal issues.

“We deal with all human living problems that may or may not cause job performance issues,” Sanchelli said. “If somebody calls and they’re in trouble, we’re going to deal with it.”

That’s a good thing to remember this time of year.

 This article by Michael Moore is reprinted from the Union Advocate.