June 10, 2020

Faculty, staff and postdoctoral scholars: Seek help for your well-being if you need it

Access mental health and wellness resources in a flexible way

Prolonged isolation, feeling overwhelmed, grief, anxiety and mental health concerns can compound and impact our well-being, and this can start to take its toll. Yet in an unprecedented time of change and uncertainty, paradoxically, our Employee and Family Assistance provider, Homewood Health, is reporting a decline in service use.

Maybe we worry our problems aren’t worth talking to someone about. Maybe we think we’ll clog services that are meant for problems we deem more important. Maybe up until this point we have focused on immediate needs such as how to juggle childcare and working from home.

For Michele Moon, team lead, WellBeing and WorkLife at UCalgary, no problem is too small. “No one should ever feel guilty for utilizing these services, they are there for you. Even if you aren’t at a stage where you feel overwhelmed or unable to cope, these services can help prevent problems from becoming overwhelming. There are many proactive services, such as nutritional or relationship coaching, that employees can access as well, to help them adjust to recent changes.”

What’s available to me as a benefit-eligible faculty, staff or postdoctoral scholar?

UCalgary’s Employee and Family Assistance Plan (EFAP), Homewood Health, offers:

  • Short-term counselling: This no-cost, short-term counselling is solution-focused, with the aim to problem solve and set goals. Telephone or video appointments can be made quickly with your schedule and preference for counsellor in mind. Learn more about the service, including how to access, what to expect and more here.
  • Life Smart coaching: These telephonic services focus on three areas —life balance, heath, and career. You talk to an expert in the respective fields for guidance and individualized resources based on your needs. Stress solutions, financial coaching and nutritional support are a few topics within each area.

Just some of the resources available through Homewood Health.

UCalgary's on and off campus supports also offer a variety of services that can help you stay connected to your community:

  • Workshops & Programs at UCalgary: Learn strategies that add to your wellness and build your resilience through interactive online workshops, digital handouts and more. View workshops and programs here.  Leaders can also reach out for a faculty or unit-based workshop, for your team, on resilience during the COVID-19 response.
  • Staff Wellness Mental Health Consultant: If you’re not sure what resource is right for you, or you have more questions, Staff Wellness’ Mental Health Consultant Amy Barnett provides confidential consultation to help navigate mental health support and resources. A wealth of campus and community resources, learn more about her here.

Our Mental Health Consultant is reachable by phone at 403-220-7174 or e-mail.

Any tips for those uneasy about accessing these services for the first time?

For those who haven’t accessed psychological services before, taking the first step can feel unusually hard. However, seeking professional help to better understand and address thoughts, feelings and behaviours that don’t serve you is a really effective way of managing your mental health. Connecting with a service provider and realizing that you’re not alone can provide a sense of calm.

Does my partner have access to services through UCalgary?

Benefit eligible faculty, staff, postdoctoral scholars and dependents of these three groups have access to our employee and family assistance program (EFAP). Dependents include a spouse or partner you have lived with for at least 12 months (considered common-law) and children up to the age of 21 including the child of your spouse and, in post-secondary education, those up to the age of 25 can access.

What if I don’t connect with my counsellor?

If you find your counsellor isn’t the right fit, you are welcome to call Homewood Health to request a better match. Being assertive with your needs is encouraged and sharing preferences can help match you with a counsellor that makes you feel comfortable.

I’ve already used the service. Can I use it again?

If you’ve used the service before, but you have a new concern, you are welcome to access the service again.  However, you will be reassessed by a new counsellor for the presenting issue. For services beyond short-term counselling, such as longer-term counselling, hospital treatment or specialized services, your EFAP counsellor will discuss referral options. Staff Wellness Mental Health Consultant Amy Barnett also provides confidential consultation and will provide resources to supplement the EFAP service. Contact Amy by phone or e-mail here.

Note:  If you are in immediate distress, Homewood Health provides crisis support 24/7 at 1-800-663-1142, or speak with a crisis counsellor from the Wood’s Homes’ Community Resource Team, reachable at 403-299-9699.

Find additional crisis and off campus resources here.

For mental health resources for students, check out this link for resources.

The University of Calgary’s Campus Mental Health Strategy is a bold commitment to the importance of mental health and well-being of our university family. Our vision is to be a community where we care for each other, learn and talk about mental health and well-being, receive support as needed, and individually and collectively realize our full potential. Learn more about the strategy here.