Mar 28, 2016 | Atlanta, GA
At a recent Be Well session on Mental Health in the Workplace, representatives from Georgia Tech’s Faculty/Staff Assistance Program (FSAP) shared insights on how to identify mental health issues in colleagues and how best to get them the support they need.
Georgia Tech offers the FSAP as a confidential resource to all faculty and staff, as well as their families. The program provides free consultation and up to three one-hour counseling sessions per calendar year. It can also make referrals to local providers for ongoing care. It’s not designed for long-term or emergency care but is meant to be used as a counseling and coaching resource for a variety of issues.
Jaclyn DeVore and Shelley Senterfitt, who work with the FSAP, provided an overview of the program, common mental health concerns in the workplace, and how to start a conversation if a concern arises.
Common workplace concerns, all of which can be addressed through the FSAP, include stress, anxiety, depression, substance abuse, grief, and workplace conflict.
Employees can look for potential warning signs — which tend to be behavioral, emotional, or physical — in colleagues who may be experiencing some sort of wellness concern. Behavioral manifestations can include a short temper, abrupt conversations, a belligerent attitude, inattention to detail, or apathy. Emotional warning signs may come in the form of tearfulness, avoidance, anger, flat speech, or emotionlessness. Finally, physical signs could include disheveled appearance, an upset stomach, sleepiness, chronic sick days, or frequent disappearances from work.
DeVore and Senterfitt emphasized the importance of not trying to diagnose a colleague’s problem but instead referring them for professional support.
“Use empathetic statements, but don’t ask for more details,” DeVore said. “You want to keep a workplace boundary and bridge the comments to a referral.”
For employees who are concerned about a colleague but unsure how to broach the topic, the FSAP offers consultation and coaching for navigating a sensitive situation. The FSAP can also assist with family or couples counseling, as long as one family member is a Georgia Tech employee.
The FSAP can be reached at 404-894-1225. The office is located just off campus on Spring Street. Learn more at www.ohr.gatech.edu/worklife/fsap.
For faculty or staff who have concerns about a student, the Division of Student Life provides a referral form on its website at www.studentlife.gatech.edu. The Office of the Dean of Students follows up on all referral submissions.