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Wellbeing at Work

The Employee and Family Assistance Program provides a variety of confidential resources to help support both your work and personal wellbeing.

Employee and Family Assistance Program


Your Employee and Family Assistance Program

Immediate, confidential help for any concern

The Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP) is a confidential and voluntary support service that can help you solve all kinds of problems and challenges in your life. The program is administered by Shepell and services are entirely anonymous. Neither HR nor supervisors are privy to information regarding who has accessed the program.

You and your immediate family members (as defined in the employee benefit plan) can receive support over the telephone, in person, online and through a variety of issue-based health and wellness resources. For each concern you are experiencing, you can receive a series of sessions. You can also take advantage of online tools to help manage personal wellbeing.

Accessing your EFAP

Your Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP) is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week for immediate, confidential help:

Your EFAP can help you:

Achieve personal well-being
  • personal stress
  • depression
  • grief and loss
  • anxiety
  • aging/midlife issues
  • life transitions
  • manage anger
  • mental health and well-being
  • crisis situations
  • trauma
Manage relationships and family
  • communication
  • relationship conflict
  • separation/divorce
  • parenting
  • domestic abuse
  • blended family issues
  • family relationships
  • aging parent concerns
Address workplace challenges
  • workplace conflict
  • workplace performance
  • career planning
  • violence
  • harassment
  • work-life balance
  • work-related stress
Address addictions
  • alcohol
  • drugs
  • tobacco
  • gambling
  • other addictions
  • post-recovery support
Research child and elder care resources
  • child care
  • adoption
  • maternity/parental leave
  • schooling
  • adult day programs
  • nursing/retirement homes
Get legal clarity
  • family Law
  • custody
  • separation/divorce
  • bankruptcy
  • summons/warrants/subpoenas
  • consumer protection
Get financial clarity
  • credit/debt management
  • bankruptcy
  • retirement
  • financial aspects of separation/divorce
  • financial emergencies
Focus on your health
  • identify conditions
  • prevent illness
  • manage symptoms
  • discover natural healing strategies
  • create an action plan for better health

Frequently asked questions

What is an employee assistance program?

An employee and family assistance program (EFAP) provides professional, confidential support services and programs for employees and members of their immediate families. It offers the counselling, information, tools and insights you need to address minor and major problems so they don't grow into more serious problems.

It is important to remember that no problem is too small or too large for the EFAP and that accessing the EFAP is often the first step towards addressing a problem.

Is the service confidential?

Yes. The EFAP's strict confidentiality policy and safeguards ensure that no one will ever know you're using EFAP services unless you choose to tell them. Complete confidentiality is the foundation of the services and caring professionals work within a strict code of professional ethics, within the limits of the law. Shepell can only disclose to Ryerson statistics about use of services, and never the identity of clients or the content of consultations.

To preserve confidentiality:

  • Two people from the same organization will not have back-to-back appointments with the same counsellor, ensuring that they will not accidentally meet each other.
  • Identifying telephone messages are never left at home or at work.

Personal information is only ever provided to authorities when certain conditions—including threat of violence to oneself or others, child abuse or a subpoena—require Shepell to release it by law.

How much will it cost?

There is no cost to use your EFAP. If you need more specialized or longer-term support, your EFAP will help you select an appropriate specialist or service that can provide assistance. While fees for these additional services are your responsibility, some may be covered by your provincial or Ryerson extended health Care Plan.

What is the hotline, and how does it work?

The EFAP toll-free hotline is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week and is a first point of contact if you require assistance. A Shepell Client Care Representative will answer your call to understand your challenges, connect you to the support you need to discover solutions, and answer your questions about the EFAP and the programs and services available.

Your EFAP toll-free hotline is 1-844-880-9142 and service is available in English and French.

If you prefer or require service in another language, let the EFAP client care representative know at the time of your call and language matching service will ensure you receive help in the language you’re most comfortable with.

If I decide to use the EFAP, will my manager or co-workers know about it?

Not unless you tell them. EFAP counsellors will deal with only you, not with Ryerson's management, your manager or your co-workers.

Can Ryerson make me use EFAP services?

No. Your participation is always voluntary. Employers can privately remind you EFAP services are available if you are noticeably experiencing difficulties, or if your work performance has been negatively impacted. The decision to access these services is entirely yours to make.

What kinds of problems or concerns can the EFAP help me with?

Employees can bring any problem or issue to the EFAP that they feel is affecting their physical, mental and emotional health or, their quality of life and work.

Common issues that the EFAP can help you with include:

  • emotional and mental health
  • relationships and family
  • workplace concerns
  • work-life balance and stress
  • addictions
  • physical health
  • career questions
  • child and eldercare
What if I feel as though I have more than one issue, will this program help me with all of them?

If you want to discuss them together, you’re free to do so. You can talk over as many problems with your counsellor as you see fit.

Do I have to make the initial contact for a family member?

No.  In fact, a family member must access the service independently as appointments from a third party are not accepted. The service is available for you and your family should they choose to use it.  It is a voluntary program.

Will the EFAP provide service to my minor children without my consent?

Laws vary from province-to-province. Children under the age of 16 require a signed parental consent form to use EFAP services. Unless the law requires otherwise, EFAP services provided to children between age 16 and the local age of majority remain confidential. Because the successful resolution of a minor's problem often depends on parental support, EFAP counsellors usually encourage the minor to involve the parent(s).

What are the ways I can receive counselling from my EFAP?

The EFAP's goal is to ensure that you are provided with the service that will best meet your needs, leading to efficient and effective problem resolution. A unique model of service helps to establish your needs and connect you to programs and services that will help you discover that resolution.

Once the client care representative understands your needs they’ll connect you to one of the following counselling options:

  • professional counselling in person
  • professional counselling over the telephone
  • professional support online (via e-counselling or an interactive support program)
  • self-directed resource packages and tools

A combination of the above can also be used to help you resolve your specific issue. 

Does the EFAP only offer counselling services?

No. Your EFAP also offers a wide variety of work and life-oriented services to help you balance your responsibilities at work with the obligations you have at home. You can access professional assistance in the form of information, resources and even resource referrals.

This range of services includes:

  • family support services
  • financial support services
  • health information Services
  • legal support services
  • naturopathic services
Who pays for EFAP services?

The cost of EFAP services is paid by Ryerson as a health benefit.

If you need more specialized or longer-term support, your EFAP will help you select an appropriate specialist or service that can provide assistance. While fees for these additional services are your responsibility, some may be covered by your provincial or Ryerson's extended health care plan.

Do I have to come to Shepell offices to use counselling services?

No. Shepell provides a variety of support options that don't require your in-person attendance at counselling offices. The EFAP offers access to programs and services over the telephone, online and/or through text-based tools. When you contact your EFAP, a client care representative will identify the solution that best fits your lifestyle and learning preferences.

How soon can an individual have an appointment with an EFAP counsellor?

Appointments can usually be made within three to five working days from the time you call the hotline. In urgent situations, arrangements will be made to connect with you on the same day as the hotline call.

How likely am I to run into a fellow employee at a counselling office?

Shepell does not book any two individuals from the same organization back-to-back at the same counselling office.

What are the counsellors' backgrounds?

Shepell's counsellors are all social workers, psychologists and addictions counsellors with a minimum of five years of experience.

If an individual is referred to another resource, will he or she have contact with their original Shepell counsellor?

Yes. If the counsellor feels that the problem is going to require further ongoing counselling or specialized care, he/she will make these recommendations known to the individual and will suggest several resources. Your counsellor will manage the referral process, including follow-up to ensure that your concern has been addressed effectively.

I'm already seeing a professional counsellor (i.e. psychologist, social worker, psychiatrist) for treatment of emotional problems. Can I use the EFAP as well?

Yes, but it may depend on the situation. You should always tell the EFAP counsellor about your current or previous medical or psychological treatments.