Counselling and support services

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The University has arrangements in place to provide a free and confidential counselling and support service for staff through our Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) with Validium.

About the service

The EAP service is a confidential, self-referral counselling and information service designed to help you with personal or work-related problems that may be affecting your health, wellbeing or performance. The counselling service is available to all current employees who are on the University of Essex payroll.

The service offers access, 24 hours a day and 365 days per year, to telephone counselling, information services and short term, face-to-face counselling with professional counsellors, close to where you live or work, at no cost to you.

Guidance for managers

Support available

Validium have produced a video to highlight the services they can provide to you. There are also newsletters, information sheets and posters available on a range of topics.

  • Counselling

    Counselling over the telephone or face to face is designed to help you clarify for yourself what your issues are and how to either resolve them, or cope with them so that you gain a better quality of life. Counselling can help with problems such as:

    • work pressures
    • stress
    • relationship difficulties
    • depression
    • bereavement
    • employment worries
    • emotional health
    • alcohol and drug problems

    The counselling provision is intended to provide support for staff experiencing personal difficulties and/or work-related problems. However, if you are experiencing work difficulties, you should first talk with your manager about being referred to Occupational Health.

  • Legal guidance

    If you have worries about legal issues, you can get friendly, helpful, legal information and signposting with the minimum amount of jargon. Our team of legal specialists has wide-ranging experience. We can help with problems such as:

    • landlord/landlady or rent disputes
    • neighbour disputes

  • Financial information

    We offer signposting and information concerning personal financial problems (excluding investment-related advice) such as:

    • tax liability
    • financial help
    • budgeting

  • Debt counselling

    We offer assistance in tackling financial difficulties. Our experts can help with:

    • aspects of budgeting
    • court action
    • dealing with multiple creditors
    • Individual Voluntary Arrangements (IVA)
    • keeping up with interest repayments
    • keeping up with mortgage payments
    • how to deal with 'final' demands

  • Health and wellbeing information

    Our team, which includes occupational health nurses, will answer your questions and provide information on health and wellbeing issues, medical concerns, vaccination requirements or how to cope with symptoms you may be experiencing. We can advise on issues such as:

    • how to eat more healthily
    • how to get advice and treatment for sensitive health issues
    • helping family members through an illness

  • Younger care

    We can provide guidance concerning younger members of your family on issues such as:

    • pre-school immunisations
    • childhood illnesses
    • the process of finding a childminder
    • problems with puberty and adolescence
    • drug addiction
    • alcohol addiction
    • gambling
    • bullying
    • sibling rivalry

  • Elder care

    We advise on matters of relevance to the elderly and their carers, including guidance on:

    • benefits and what Social Services can do for you
    • healthcare for the elderly
    • daily living and activities
    • the process of finding care and residential homes
    • avoiding hypothermia

Getting started

To access or to find out more about the EAP counselling and support services, call the Validium team:

Employee Assistance Programme

Telephone 0800 358 48 58 (outside UK: +44 141 271 7179)

How it works

Your call

Your call will be answered by one of Validium's professional counselling or information team. The person who answers will discuss the problem and may transfer you to a colleague if you need the support of a different specialist.

You will be asked for your name and contact details (which are securely held) and also for general information for the provision of statistics. You can choose to remain anonymous if you wish. If your call is about counselling issues, you may be asked some standard risk questions for your own safety.

Your telephone counsellor

If you don't like the telephone counsellor you have spoken to, you can request to speak to someone else. You can also ask for a preferred individual when you call in. If they are not there at that time they can call you back.

In the event that there are no counsellors free to take a call, if you are willing to leave a phone number, you will be called back.

Using the service if you have a hearing impediment

A minicom text phone is available on 0800 039 7879.

Seeing a counsellor

If you want to see a counsellor, telephone the helpline and request face to face counselling. Validium will then arrange for you to be seen by one of their network of counsellors or psychologists, close to your home or work location. You will generally have an assessment session followed by a number of sessions, where appropriate.

Waiting times

Once you have spoken to the EAP helpline staff, you will generally receive a call from a local counsellor or psychologist within a couple of working days to set up an appointment for a suitable date and time. Counselling can be arranged to fit around your working hours.

Cost of counselling

Face-to-face sessions can be provided at no cost to you as part of EAP service.

About the counsellors

The counselling is provided by experienced and qualified counsellors and psychologists from Validium's local resource network. Validium have a rigorous selection process for network resources that checks out their qualifications, training and experience.

Location

The counselling will take place at a location which is convenient to you, either close to home or work, or at the counsellor's consulting room. Sometimes this will be a private address as many counselling resources run private practices from home.

Your counsellor

The local counsellor will be selected for you by one of Validium's Case Management team. They will select someone who has the training and experience appropriate for your problem, and who is available at times suitable for you.

vClub and e-counselling

As part of your Employee Assistance Programme service provided by Validium you can also access services online by visiting vClub.

vClub gives you access to a wealth of information and links on issues that may be affecting you. There are many help sheets available to download on a variety of topics. E-counselling is also available on vClub. The service is free, confidential to use and is entirely secure.

To access vClub you'll need a username and password, which you can find in the document below.


The EAP is a confidential service. No information about individuals or their specific problems will go back to your organisation. The EAP will only intervene - and if necessary break confidentiality - if you or someone else is in danger of being harmed by your, or someone else's actions. Work-related problems are treated just as confidentially as all other issues.

You have direct access to counselling support and do not need to inform anyone at work. However, if an appointment is booked during working hours, you may need to inform your manager that you will be absent from work.

The EAP helpline number will not show on itemised phone bills relating to land-lines, because it is a freephone number. However, the number will appear on bills relating to mobile phones as your provider may charge for 0800 numbers.

Validium are a registered provider with the Employee Assistance Professionals Association and work to their quality standards. The company is also registered to the standards of ISO 9001, SA 8000 (Social Accountability), Investors in People, ISO/IEC 27001 (Information Security) and BS 25999 (Business Continuity).

The only information that the organisation will receive is confirmation of whether the service is being used and the types of calls.

To provide feedback on your initial experience of contacting Validium, please complete our short survey.

About counselling

Counselling is a safe place for you to explore in confidence with a therapist, your personal or work-related concerns you feel unable to resolve alone.

You may be referred for Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) by Occupational Health. CBT is a therapy that looks at how you think about yourself, the world and other people and how what you do affects your feelings and thoughts. Contact us for more information.

About Validium EAP

The Employee Assistance Programme is supplied by Validium, a professional and independent employee assistance provider who support over 350 organisations in the UK. This service supports the University's Stress Management Policy (.doc).