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Working Solutions to Stress

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Cannon wears a pager, and he's available around the clock. Here's a typical day of work. The names of employees have been changed to protect their privacy.

At 8 a.m. on Monday, Bob H., a plant supervisor, calls to say that his wife has just walked out on the family. "His life is in tatters, and there's no way he can come to work for at least a week," Cannon says. "So we need to get him into counseling and help him find someone to care for his young children."

By 10 a.m. Cannon is talking to Hal G., an engineer, who wants help with a drinking problem. Says Cannon, "He doesn't know how to tell his family how bad it's been." Cannon gets Hal into a residential program and tells Hal's wife about a support group that can help the family in the weeks ahead.

It's noon, and Gale L., a marketing manager, stops by to tell Cannon she's increasingly afraid of her teenage son. "He's been smoking dope and acting like a terrorist, holding the family hostage with his threats of violence," Cannon explains. "We have a lot of families who gointo counseling because they don't know what to do with angry kids." In Gale L.'s case, Cannon started exploring the possibility of getting her son into a residential treatment program. If that failed, he says, he would look into individual counseling.

From noon to 5 p.m., Cannon will be in training sessions for managers, helping them recognize signs of stress, alcoholism, or drug abuse. Between these sessions, he'll stop in on a branch office and walk the halls, introducing himself to new employees and checking up on people he's helped in the past.

And then he'll go home with his beeper on -- ready to deal with any new emergencies.

Valerie Andrews has written for Vogue, Esquire, People, Intuition, and HealthScout. She lives in Greenbrae, Calif.

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