FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas -- Most people have heard the saying, "Don't bring your personal problems to work; leave them at the door."

Realistically that never works out; outside problems can and do affect work performance and production. Employees are faced with mental or emotional problems, Family responsibilities, financial or legal difficulties, or dependent, whether child or elder, care needs. Therefore, employees may become irritable with co-workers and act out, or become unable to concentrate at work and miss deadlines.

The Fort Sam Houston Employee Assistance Program exists to help civilian federal employees deal with personal issues that are impacting their work performance. The program provides free, confidential services to include screening to identify a problem, short-term counseling, and when appropriate, a referral to a facility or program within or outside the Army that can assist the employee.

It is the employee's responsibility to follow through with the referral and to make the necessary financial arrangements for treatment, as with any other medical condition.

"The most common work problems are disagreements between supervisors and employees or employees and co-workers." said Teana Martin, Fort Sam Houston Employee Assistance Program coordinator. "Sometimes the employee's work performance becomes a real problem and an administrative action is taken; but before that happens, the supervisor will inform the employee about the EAP and encourage them to make an appointment."

EAP recognizes that employees are more than "job titles" or "line items." They are people first and subject to stresses and pressures that impact their ability to be effective at work. Everyone has problems of one kind or another. Most people have had some experience with the kind of problems that make it difficult to think about anything else, such as achieving a balance between work, Family, and other personal responsibilities, going through a divorce, children, parents and substance abuse.

Participation in the EAP is voluntary and it is the employee's decision whether to participate or not. All participants are protected by anonymity and confidentiality, unless they give written consent to discuss their situation. The EAP also deals with the issue of workplace violence.

At times, employees may find they are becoming very angry at work for any reason and feel they might lose self-control and do something they'll regret. Martin recommends they inform the supervisor they need to take a breather and go straight to EAP before making any irrational actions or decisions.

The EAP is a neutral environment where one can vent their frustrations, defuse, and then discuss strategies to deal with the cause of their anger. Martin explained that many clients come to the EAP because they just didn't know what to do and are seeking assistance with issues. Many times employees just need to express their feelings and find that talking to an impartial person helps put things into perspective. Martin said,

"I'm here to work for their best interest and to provide the best resolution for their problems. We are here to help and we don't turn away anyone who needs assistance."

(Olivia Mendoza works at the Fort Sam Houston Public Information Office at Fort Sam Houston, Texas)