Lou DeCola had always offered his team benefits at DeCola Salon in Exton, PA, from health insurance and paid vacation to a retirement plan that has the salon matching the employee’s contributions up to 3% of the salary. But none of that helped last year when an employee was going through a particularly rough patch that required mental health services. And that person wasn’t the only employee who confided in DeCola about struggling to maintain mental health.
“The pandemic has taken a huge toll on many people’s mental health across the globe, and the salon industry is no exception,” DeCola says. “But the silver lining is that a mental health and wellness dialogue has become more accepted in everyday conversation. I began to notice this openness among my staff.”
The solution became obvious to DeCola. An Employee Assistance Program (EAP) could offer confidential assessments, short-term counseling, referrals, and follow-up services to employees who have personal or work-related problems. The trouble was that he couldn’t find a program with a perfect fit. He asked his Blue Cross/Blue Shield insurance agent, who discovered Uprise Health.
Through Uprise, DeCola Salon now offers:
- 6 in-person, one-on-one counseling sessions per year per employee
- 10 video peer support group sessions
- 24-hour crisis support line
- Mobile app
The range of topics covers many personal issues, including legal problems, meditation guidance, financial services, child and adult eldercare challenges, home ownership programs, identity theft and more. The cost is $1,550 per year for 35-50 employees or $1,200 per year for fewer than 35 employees. DeCola Salon has 35+ employees, and the owner pays 100% of the cost.
“Now staff members have access to this all the time,” DeCola says. “Every person who works for me, regardless of their job title, qualifies for this at our salon. Maybe you have an addiction issue. Maybe you’re dealing with anxiety or depression. I think it’s really important to be able to have these resources.”
DeCola is no stranger to the discussion. After losing a nephew to opiate addiction, DeCola and his family established the Daniel K. Wepryk Foundation to help young people with addiction. DeCola also has a son with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and says it was difficult when people didn't want to mention these things. He urges all owners to consider offering an EAP.
“Whether it’s physical health or mental health, it’s the same thing,” DeCola says. “Think about $1,550—your coffee bill is higher than that! If only five people use it, I’ve won. They will be better employees and happier people. Life is difficult to deal with, and hairdressers listen to clients’ problems every day. Giving them somebody to talk to creates a strong support system. You’ll get better work out of people who are mentally healthy.”
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