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Morneau Shepell's text-based, chat counselling service gets rave reviews

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Employee Assistance Programs / Canada

Morneau Shepell's text-based, chat counselling service gets rave reviews

Study shows people who have never before used an employee assistance program are reaching out for support using First Chat

TORONTO, June 19, 2012 /CNW/ - People like receiving Employee Assistance program (EAP) counselling through a text-based chat service, according to a new study released by Morneau Shepell under its Shepell•fgi brand. First Chat, which was launched in September 2011, is the first live EAP counselling service. It connects employees and their family members with qualified counsellors for private and immediate clinical support via chat technology.

The study sampled data from 407 chats, taken from December 5, 2011 to January 31, 2012. Post-chat surveys were also conducted with a group of 95 randomly selected respondents to determine their levels of satisfaction with the service.

According to the study:

  • 94 percent of users surveyed felt comfortable using chat as a clinical counselling service;
  • 84 percent said they received relevant information that helped address their problems;
  • 87 percent would recommend chat counselling to others; and
  • 65 percent were employees who had never accessed EAP services before.

User feedback has been positive, with individuals finding chat counselling a great way to communicate "…especially, for those whose English is [a] second language, who is [sic] shy, or nervous," with many preferring it to telephonic conversation. Users also expressed satisfaction with their counsellor's level of knowledge and service, having "… covered all that I wanted to cover for a first session online."

"With First Chat, the client benefits from text-based, written communication," says Barb Veder, Clinical Director, Shepell•fgi. "It provides instant access to clinical intervention via computer or tablet. The client can also see their discussion with the counsellor in black and white, and refer back to the text at any time for further reflection."

Chat counselling overcomes concerns about stigma, privacy and confidentiality, lack of mobility or transportation, verbal communication, and social phobias.

"First Chat is an invaluable resource for users who need or desire private, immediate clinical support from a counsellor," says Rita Fridella, Senior Vice-President, Operations and Chief Clinician, Shepell•fgi. "We are seeing an increase in a younger demographic reaching out to their EAP for help. This reaffirms our commitment to create and deliver innovative solutions for the new generation of EAP users. "

Findings of the Shepell•fgi report will be presented at Medicine 2.0'12, a conference that celebrates social media, mobile apps, and the Internet/Web 2.0 in medicine and public health. It takes place at Harvard Medical School on September 15 and 16.

For the full report, including key considerations when purchasing an EAP service, visit: First Chat is currently available to all clients, employees, and their family members in Canada through:

About Morneau Shepell

Morneau Shepell is the largest Canadian-based firm offering consulting and outsourcing services for workforce programs. The company works with clients to develop innovative solutions that integrate with their business strategies to achieve results. Through Health and Benefits Consulting, Pension Consulting, Health Management, Administrative Solutions, and Shepell•fgi Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs), Morneau Shepell helps clients reduce costs, increase employee productivity, and improve their competitive positions by supporting their employees' financial security, health and well-being.

Established in 1966, Morneau Shepell serves over 8,000 clients, ranging from small businesses to some of the largest corporations and associations in North America. With approximately 2,500 employees in offices across North America, we provide services to organizations across Canada, in the United States and around the globe.

Morneau Shepell Inc. is a publicly traded company on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX). For more information, visit





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Jerry Amernic