Editor’s note: Jan Pierce is the Employee Assistance Program Coordinator and is a licensed mental health service provider. The Employee Assistance Program is part of the benefits offered by Human Resources.
Dear CSU Community,
May is Mental Health Awareness Month, but a valuable lesson that the past few years have highlighted is that the mental health of our community – students, faculty and staff – must be a priority every month, and not just in may.
Why is this important? Our individual mental health and well-being are correlated to the well-being of our community.
President McConnell’s focus on wellness initiatives in the Courageous Strategic Transformation is proof that CSU is committed to making the mental health and wellbeing of individual employees and our collective CSU community a priority. absolute.
As the Employee Assistance Program Coordinator, I coordinated the University’s program which provides a multitude of services, including helping employees connect to mental health counseling. As I reflect on how to recognize and honor the mental health of our CSU community, both for each individual and for our community as a whole, I realize that words are not always the best way to understand people’s individual experience of mental health, or the experience of different individuals based on their various identities.
Many people often struggle to put their own experience of mental health into words, as they may doubt that they are understood or fear that their stories and feelings will be judged by others.
Leading with curiosity through listening is necessary to bring compassionate understanding to another person’s experience. Curiosity gives us a starting point to check in with our colleagues, leaders, and students. We frequently ask about physical health and check to see if we know that someone we are in a relationship with has suffered a physical injury or illness.
We can – and I hope you will – do the same by asking questions about the mental health of those we work with while respecting the confidentiality of their confidentially shared health information.
If you know of a student or colleague who has suffered the death of a loved one, had a particularly difficult personal or professional experience, or if you know of a member of the community who has had mental health issues, we we can compassionately ask about his experience. then listen. We don’t need to fix anything or make suggestions. We can just listen without judgment and be present as they share, and then honor their stories.
You can ask, “What if I don’t know if someone has mental health issues?” »
We don’t have to be experts to help a student or colleague – or even a friend or loved one – in times of need. You may have noticed a change in behavior such as withdrawal, taking more sick time, increased negativity or cranky responses during interactions, a change in appearance, or truancy from school or work. In general, any change in a person’s basic behavior and patterns can signal a change in their mental health. The simplest and most caring course of action is to reach out and ask if the person is okay and needs help.
If a co-worker comes to you with difficulties, please tell them about the Employee Assistance Program. Most employees are entitled to six free counseling sessions with a therapist in their community or via an online appointment through these benefits. Additionally, employees have access to SilverCloud, an online tool that offers self-guided therapy modules to support health and wellness. Fee-paying students can access a wide range of services, including mental health supports through the CSU Health Network.
You may also consider telling Tell Someone if you are concerned about a student or employee. And you’re always welcome to call me in the HR office if you’re concerned about an employee and think I can help you find ways to help your colleague. (As always, if you believe someone poses an immediate risk to their own safety or that of someone else, please call 9-1-1.)
The Health Network provides an excellent resource called Opinions and Responses. Notice and Response is an educational tool that can help you understand how mental health issues can manifest in others and how you can respond in helpful ways. In addition to the valuable information on their website, University units and groups can request Notice and Response training on how to intervene when someone may need help.
Returning to the original initiative of recognizing and honoring May as Mental Health Awareness Month. First and foremost, we are a healthier community if we practice compassionate listening. We can take our efforts further by risking these caring conversations and then knowing where people can go for help. Finally, we can continue to de-stigmatize mental health by gaining knowledge and education.
Webinars for Mental Health Awareness Month
The Employee Assistance Program is offering two webinars in May in honor of Mental Health Awareness Month.
Please see the links for more information on the webinars and additional resources for wellness support.