By Melissa Lafrance on October 23, 2018
Mental health is the capacity to feel, think and act in ways that enhance our ability to enjoy life and deal with the challenges we face1. Our ability to live, learn, work and support ourselves and one another at UBC and beyond depends on our mental health and resilience.
Mental health literacy is a key component to enhancing the mental health and resilience of individuals, workplaces, and communities2. Mental health literacy involves understanding when you need assistance and where to go for help as well as knowing how to support yourself and others in challenging times and also proactively. Read further to learn about the resources available to support you.
Rico’s Challenge: When you need to support your mental wellbeing – at work and at home
Rico would like to learn more about work-life integration. He is feeling overwhelmed and often finds himself worrying about work, even when at home where he’s trying to focus on caring for his family and other life demands. He is feeling anxious and worries it’s putting a strain on his personal and professional relationships.
How EFAP and Extended Health Plan coverage can help:
UBC’s Employee & Family Assistance Program provider, Morneau Shepell, offers confidential counselling and consultative services to help you and your dependents find solutions to any challenges, including anxiety, work-life integration and relationships. Their experienced professionals are available 24/7: in-person at various locations across BC, over the phone in multiple languages, via video, or through First Chat.
To book services or to learn which service is right for you, call the Shepell Care Access Centre at 1-800-387-4765 or visit www.worklifehealth.com. (Note: Please enter “University of British Columbia” as your organization.)
Through UBC’s Extended Health Plan, you can access counselling services from a licensed psychologist, registered social worker or registered clinical counsellor and be 100% reimbursed up to a maximum of $2,500 for each person enrolled per benefit year. For more details, refer to your UBC Employee Group.
How HR resources can help:
There is a range of programs and resources available to help improve individual mental health and resiliency, and support UBC workplaces that want to enhance the mental health and wellbeing of its staff and faculty. Visit our Mental Health page for more information.
Lori’s Challenge: When supporting a thriving team and workplace begins with you
Lori supervises a team of employees at UBC and tries her best to set a supportive and respectful atmosphere. Recently, she noticed that Frank has been acting differently. Typically very social, he avoids team gatherings and eats lunch alone. He seems to have lost his sense of humour and appears more tired than usual. Lori has approached him a couple of times to ask how he is doing and he replies, “busy but good”. Lori is growing increasingly concerned for Frank, but doesn’t know how to approach the topic and does not want to offend or upset him.
How HR resources can help Lori respond to and support someone in need:
To help staff and faculty in distress, Lori can use the guidelines contained in the Orange Folder. She can also contact UBC’s Advisory Services for support and access online information specifically for managers. Because Lori likes to take a proactive approach to her manager role, she can consider professional development opportunities in this area, including health and wellbeing workshops and trainings, or free and individualized coaching support.
How can EFAP assist Lori:
UBC’s EFAP provider, Morneau Shepell, offers a range of supports and resources for managers, including manager consultations to help Lori recognize the signs of someone struggling or to refer staff to EFAP counselling support. Manager consultations are designed to offer advice and resources to promote and maintain a healthy working environment while supplementing the information and guidance provided by HR Advisors and/or Associates.
Morneau Shepell delivers support services in a number of ways, including in-person, over the phone and online. Choose the format that works best for you. To book services or to learn which service is right for you, call the Shepell Care Access Centre at 1-800-387-4765 or visit www.worklifehealth.com. (Note: Please enter “University of British Columbia” as your organization.)
- Public Health Agency of Canada, 2014
- Kutcher et al., 2016, p.155; Whitley, Smith, & Vaillancourt, 2012; Whitley & Gooderham, 2016
Photo credit: UBC Communications & Marketing
By Melissa Lafrance on February 2, 2017
How can managing your emotions be good for your heart? The brain and the heart are closely connected. When your emotions adversely affect your mental wellbeing, your heart is impacted as well.
Stress & Heart Health
There’s a reason why we have a stress response – it’s necessary for survival. When stress or distress become overbearing and chronic, it has significant effects on your health, specifically your heart.
In a stressful situation, your body responds with a chain of reactions. Cortisol and epinephrine are released, which temporarily increase breathing rate, heart rate and blood pressure. This prepares you to deal with the situation and is also known as the “fight or flight” response. Most of us are able to return to normal functioning following a stressful situation. However, if such situations happens often, stress causes your body to remain in a heightened state for days or weeks at a time. Stress can also affect cardiovascular health by influencing behaviours such as unhealthy eating, sedentary behaviours, excessive alcohol consumption and smoking, thereby affecting cholesterol levels and blood pressure.
Chronic hypertension, or high blood pressure, can damage the artery walls. Managing stress and improving emotional wellbeing can improve overall heart health. Learn more about preventing high blood pressure.
You should consult your physician if you are concerned about your stress levels or your risks for cardiovascular disease. Learn more about preventing and managing risk factors.
Get involved & take care of your heart:
- Learn more about heart anatomy & function and cardiovascular disease risk factors
- Inform yourself on heart health by visiting our Virtual Health Fair & Online Assessment
- Visit heartandstroke.ca to learn more about Heart Health & Heart Month
Emotional Wellbeing & Stress Management:
- Work or talk it out with UBC’s Employee and Family Assistance Program provider, Shepell
- Shepell’s Stress Coach Connects – an online stress management program
- Improve your stress management with the 30-Day Online Mindfulness Challenge
- Learn mindfulness for the workplace and how to establish your own meditation practice with the Mindfulness@Work Program
- Check out other stress management resources for staff and faculty
Posted in Healthy Path, Mental Health, Physical Health | Tagged blood pressure, care, emotional health, emotions, healthy hear, Heart health, management, prevention, risk, Stress, wellbeing | Leave a response
By Melissa Lafrance on September 13, 2016
How can some people bounce back from hardship or remain in challenging situations while others get disconcerted and remain affected for a longer period of time? Resilience is the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, and other significant sources of stress. Research has shown that resilience is ordinary, not extraordinary and people regularly demonstrate resilience. Having strong resiliency skills doesn’t remove challenging or distressed feelings, but rather can help reduce the time it takes to return to “normal” functioning. Luckily, resilience involves behaviours, thoughts and actions that can be learned and developed in anyone.
Several achievable factors are associated with resilience, including:
- Having caring and supportive relationships
- The capacity to make realistic plans and take steps to carry them out
- A positive view of yourself and confidence in your strengths and abilities
- Skills in communication and problem solving
- The capacity to manage strong feelings and impulses
Developing or enhancing resilience is a completely personal journey. Here are a few general tips to consider when developing your personal resiliency:
Make connections. Having a good support systems involving positive relationships is crucial as is accepting help from those who care about you and your wellbeing. Read more about improving the quality of your relationships.
Avoid seeing crises as insurmountable problems. You may not be able to control or avoid stressful events from happening, but you can change your outlook and how you respond to these events. Find out how you can maintain your inner strength amidst life’s daily challenges.
Accept change. It is part of living. This may change your course of action or make certain goals no longer attainable. Learn how to deal with the stress resulting from change and how to adapt and respond effectively to changes.
Move towards your goals. Learn the SMART guide to goal setting.
Take decisive actions. Act on adverse situations as much as possible rather than passively ignoring problems and stresses. Check out some tips for great decision making.
Seize opportunities for self-discovery. Learn to meditate or try a new team sport or hobby.
Nurture a positive view of yourself. Read more on constructing confidence and building self-belief.
Maintain a perspective view on things. Avoid making difficult situations a bigger deal than they actually are. View stressful events in a broader context and keep a long-term perspective.
Maintain a hopeful outlook. Being optimistic about the future allows you to expect that good things will happen in your life. Instead of worrying and fearing for the worst, visualize a hopeful outcome. Learn ways to nourish your inner optimist.
Take care of yourself. Read more on how to improve your relationship with yourself.
Explore Mindfulness and Meditation at UBC and consider enrolling in the upcoming programs!
30-Day Online Mindfulness Challenge
Learn the core skills of mindfulness through evidence-based online training. The 30-day Challenge does not involve a formal meditation practice but rather, teaches mindfulness-in-cation for everyday life.
How it works
- 5-10 minutes per day
- Online, anytime, any device
- 30 consecutive days
- Get to invite a buddy to join you for only $25
Key impact areas
- Health and wellbeing
- Increased performance
- Teamwork and conflict resolution
For those looking for a deeper understanding of mindfulness and developing a meditation practice. An in-person educational program modelling off Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR).
How it works
- Six-week, in-person training
- Meet for 1.5 hours once a week in a small supportive group led by Dr. Geoff Soloway
- Half day weekend retreat
- Daily home assignments for 15-30 minutes a day
Key impact areas
- Stress reduction
- Physical and mental wellbeing
- Effectiveness, teamwork, communication skills
- Focuses on integrating mindfulness in the workplace
Additional resources on building resiliency:
- More steps to building resiliency in your life
- Tips for balance and talking about resiliency
- Workplace and career resiliency
By Melissa Lafrance on September 13, 2016
A new school year is here, and as staff and faculty, we may be experiencing a realm of emotions that comes with it. Some days, we can feel excited and joyful, other days we may be anxious and downright stressed! As we bid farewell to another summer and move into the autumn, check out the helpful resources you can use to better manage stress.
UBC’s Employee & Family Assistance Program is here to support you and your eligible dependants with the following services:
- Stress Coach Connects
- Interactive online program to help you assess, understand, and manage stress
- Effective stress management tools with progress, mood, and stress level tracking; goal setting and action tools, helpful resources, thoughtful journaling, and life support anytime via online chat
- Anxiety Support Group
- Private and secure online support group led by a counsellor
- Access to real-time interaction with a counsellor and other group members (from outside UBC)
- Group work that includes in-session online activities, homework and self-guided learning modules
- Counselling for a variety of work, health, and life challenges
- Confidential short-term one-on-one counselling
- Counselling services include but are not limited to: issues related to personal/emotional (stress, anxiety, depression), couple/relationship (communication, separation/divorce), family (parenting, elder care), work (workplace violence/harassment and conflicts), and addiction
- Variety of delivery methods to best suit your needs including over the phone, in person, email, secure video chat, and more
To access these services, contact Shepell:
- Call the Care Access Centre at 1-800-387-4765
- Visit the Shepell website
Counselling Services Coverage through Extended Health Benefits
UBC’s Extended Health plan provides coverage for counselling services and testing. To find out more details regarding referrals, services and claims, refer to our Benefits FYI article on Counselling Services Benefits.
Personal & Professional Development Opportunities for Stress & Time Management
- Health and Wellbeing Workshops
- Professional Development Workshops at UBC
- Stress Strategies: A web-based decision making tool to assess stressors and assist in developing an action plan for reducing and managing stress is all aspects of life.
- Stress 101: Learn more about the stress response and how to cope with stress in daily life.
- Mindful Moments: mindfulness and meditation practices, information and research.
- Free Financial support available for UBC staff & faculty
- Workplace Stress Busting Tips
- Understanding Stress