Wednesday, October 22, 2008

America's State of Mind

As a counselor with a National EAP company, I have the unfortunate opportunity to witness the struggles of everyday Americans. The purpose of the Employee Assistance Program provided by many employers is to assist employees on striking a balance between work and life-related issues. The bulk of the work with EAP companies centers around providing short-term counseling for a wide-range of issues--including work problems, substance abuse, stress, marital and family concerns. In addition to the counseling offered, we work with other national companies to help employees with legal issues, financial matters, childcare referrals, and eldercare resources. Needless to say, we hear it all.

With this current financial crisis, our calls from clients are becoming more severe. Most of the clients we serve are college educated homeowners with families. It is safe for me to say that most of their upbringing did not prepare them for these times. Many of our clients have a church and attend more often than not.

Despite all that, these American families are in disarray at this very moment. The workplace has become a war zone in buildings where employees once thrived and contributed daily. However, these same buildings now evoke fear in the heart of every employee, including the veterans. The pressure of performing well at all times has become a bit too much. The pressure of wondering if you will be asked to pack your belongings and not return is daunting. The pressure of worrying about the grant or loan needed to keep the organization/business operating drives employees amuck. All these things leave my clients more distracted, annoyed, paranoid, and anxious. And God forbid someone gets sick.

Even more---they bring these emotions home. Undoubtedly, their spouses (if they have a spouse) shuffle home the same way. Do they open the bills they never have the money to pay? Do they turn on the television to hear both Barack Obama and John McCain exchange words? Do they pay attention to their kids, especially the one that has been falling behind in math class?

Probably not.

Most of my clients are overwhelmed and afraid. They have family members they consider to be "ungratful." They have spouses that cheat, hide money, gamble with the rent/mortgage payment, go straight to happy hour after work, or simply leave the house and never return.

Increasingly, I receive requests for counseling from Black folk. And not just the city folk, but those who live in the rural parts of Georgia. These are the same families that would have never sought counseling 10-15 years ago. Now they do not ask for counseling, but just want someone to talk to about their "nerves." I am happy that these overwhelmed heroines are in a place where they feel comfortable seeking help.

Black men are not far behind.

I am reminded of my pastor's favorite saying: God is neither dumb, deaf, nor blind.

What do Christians do when they are stuck between a rock and hard place (e.g., pharoah's army and the Red Sea)? Pray. Have faith. The battle is not yours...

Encourage those around you to seek help if they need it.

Please share the resources on my page with anyone you know that may be going through a difficult time with the economy. As I have time, I will add more resources.


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