More Manitobans seek counselling through employee programs

A growing number of Manitobans are seeking counselling services through their employee assistance programs, according to Manitoba Blue Cross.

A growing number of Manitobans are seeking counselling services through their employee assistance programs, according to Manitoba Blue Cross.

Dr. Ian Altman, a psychologist and the head of employment assistance services at Manitoba Blue Cross, says he has seen a 20 to 33 per cent jump in EAP counselling users in the past five years.

"I'm not saying that I am glad that their numbers are increasing with respect to issues in our society. It's just now heartening to know that people can now avail themselves to services," he told CBC News.

Altman said he believes there is less stigma associated with going for counselling these days, and some progressive employers are strongly promoting wellness in the workplace.

He said employees are generally seeking counselling because of problems at home, because of the stress related to doing more with less at work, and because people are having to stay in the workforce longer than they had planned.

Technology is also taking its toll on workers, Altman said, with some lying awake at night thinking about the work emails they didn't get around to answering.

"They're not going to be able to concentrate as well. They're not going to get to as many tasks. And then things start to build up," he said.

"So there are certain individuals where it's not going to be helpful for them to have complete access 24/7. They're not going to be able to manage it."

Manitoba Blue Cross has hired more service providers to keep up with the demand for counselling, Altman said.

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