By Melissa Lafrance on January 8, 2019
What does your emotional wellbeing look like in the new year? Whether or not you have some personal objectives in mind, remember that reaching out for help is a sign of strength, not weakness. If you need support for your emotional wellbeing this year, or if you’re concerned about a colleague, friend or family member, reach out as early as possible. Your campus community cares, and help is available for you and your dependents.
Melanie’s Dilemma: When family relationships are more rocky than smooth
Melanie just returned from visiting her family. Although she was happy to see her loved ones, she feels emotionally drained after spending time with her younger brother. Since their parents’ divorce, Melanie and her brother have had a sensitive relationship filled with disagreements and confrontations. When they are together, there are tense moments that increase Melanie’s feelings of anxiety and frustration. Melanie really wants to address her emotional wellbeing in the New Year by dealing with the persistent issues between her and her brother in the hopes of improving their relationship.
How EFAP can provide confidential relationship support:
Through the Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP) provided by Morneau Shepell, Melanie can connect with a professional counsellor who specializes in relationship challenges and conflict resolution. She can receive confidential, short-term counselling for a range of relationship issues, including communication and mental health challenges. Because EFAP services are available in a variety of formats, including video counselling and First Chat, Melanie can choose the support service that’s most convenient for her.
To help her communicate better, resolve conflicts and approach the situation with her brother differently, Melanie can access Morneau Shepell’s www.workhealthlife.com online hub for articles on improving family communication and resolving family conflicts. (Note: Please enter “University of British Columbia” as your organization.)
If the situation requires specialized care or long-term counselling, Morneau Shepell will find resources to best meet individual needs and budget.
EFAP could also refer Melanie to a registered psychologist, social worker or clinical counsellor. Through UBC’s Extended Health Plan, Melanie may be reimbursed for 100% of reasonable and customary charges, up to a maximum of $2,500 per year. No doctor’s referral is required to access this service.
Katie’s Challenge: The emotional toll of caring for an ill family member
Katie’s father has been living with her for the past two years. He’s physically capable of caring for himself, but is financially dependent on Katie and her partner. Recently, he was diagnosed with gout and is having difficulty coming to terms with the diagnosis and the diet changes his doctor advised him to follow. Katie would like some advice for herself as a caregiver and also for her father to support him through this diagnosis.
How EFAP can help:
EFAP is available for eligible staff, faculty, retired employees, and their dependents. Dependents include spouses and children, as well as parents that are financially dependent on the employee. Because Katie already enrolled her father in EFAP, they can both access Morneau Shepell’s support services.
For Katie’s father, a counsellor can help him cope with health changes. He can also receive nutrition advice and health-related consultations from naturopathic doctors, registered dietitians and nurses over the phone. As a caregiver, Katie can support her own emotional wellbeing through counselling. Confidential email or e-counselling for psychological support is available, which Katie might find useful since she enjoys writing and journaling.
By Miranda Massie on October 3, 2018
Recently, I attended an engaging workshop hosted by a colleague on the topic of resilience. Beyond being a “wellness buzzword”, resilience is the capacity in each of us to draw on multiple sources of strengths, social networks and resources to overcome adversities.1 The great thing about resilience and overall mental health is that we can learn skills, tools and strategies that allow us to effect positive changes on our wellbeing.
One such strategy is social connection. UBC has identified social connection as one of the institution’s top five wellbeing priorities going forward. It is also strongly linked to resilience and is one of seven key strategies for building our ability to bounce back and overcome challenges.
Four ways to build social support:2
- Talk to someone. Use this connection to seek help, gain perspective and insight, or just to vent.
- Reach out. Family members, friends, colleagues or professionals can support you in different ways, depending on what you need and what their strengths are.
- Connect with your community. Try being active in a community-based group or organization. Already a part of a community group? You’re already increasing your social support and building resilience!
- Identify five or more meaningful connections in your life. Evidence shows that having five or more meaningful connections indicates a strong social support network. Try making a list of who you would turn to for different kinds of support (friend, resource, fun, mentor, challenger, appreciator, etc.)3
This month, I invite you to reflect on your social networks both at work and in your personal lives. Within these communities lies a wealth of knowledge and support that can be shared in order to strengthen our wellbeing.
Interested in learning more about the power of social connection? Watch this TEDx Talk “Connect or Die: The Surprising Power of Human Relationships” (12 minutes). Or, consider registering for our Building Resilience Workshop (Nov. 1) to discover more contributing factors to our mental health and resilience. Lastly, I’ll leave you with an infographic of top tips for creating a support system from our EFAP provider Morneau Shepell.
Wishing you a wonderful start to the fall.
All my best,
1Youth Resilience and Protective Factors Associated with Suicide in First Nations Communities, 2014.
2Building Resilience Workshop, UBC HR Health, Wellbeing and Benefits, 2017.
3Adapted from Neilson, M. 2012. Complete Workplace Wellness
Photo credit: UBC Brand & Marketing
“One of the most important things we can do is look out for the wellbeing of others”: Thriving Faculty
By Miranda Massie on October 25, 2016
In honour of Thrive week, we are excited to highlight a very special ‘Thriving President’ feature, with Professor Santa Ono, UBC’s President and Vice-Chancellor.
Thriving Faculty is a monthly column that highlights UBC faculty who exemplify the integration of health and wellbeing into their classrooms, research, departments and communities.
What does thriving mean to you?
To me thriving means that on a daily basis I am growing and improving as an individual. Thriving requires that I have time to think about my daily, weekly and longer-term priorities and to assess how I am doing against those plans. Work/life balance is critical to thriving. I therefore make sure that I have time in my calendar for my family and for recreational pursuits such as playing the cello.
How do you think we can best work together to thrive as a community?
I think that it is important for an institution such as UBC to have a clear commitment to thriving for each member of our community. Newsletters such as Healthy UBC play a critical role in underscoring our commitment to the wellbeing of every member of the community. One of the most important things we can do as a community is to look out for the wellbeing of others in everything that we do. Supervisors should make sure that members of their teams have a good life balance. And professors should look after the wellbeing of students within the classroom.
Do you have advice or strategies to share with staff and faculty?
I would encourage all members of UBC staff and faculty to take advantage of the rich opportunities for wellbeing that exist on our campus. I am also a proponent of active dialogue as a means to promote wellbeing. Speaking about and sharing strategies to promote wellbeing will help us build a culture of wellness at UBC.
As a professor of medicine and biology, Prof. Santa Ono has worked at Harvard, Johns Hopkins, University College London, and Emory universities. Last year he was inducted by Johns Hopkins into its Society of Scholars, which honours former faculty who have gained distinction in their fields. An avid music lover whose tastes range from Rihanna to Rachmaninoff, Prof. Ono studied at the Peabody Conservatory of Music in Baltimore and remarkably still finds time to sing and play his cello – even taking to the concert stage to perform on occasion.
Posted in Guest Contributor, Thriving Faculty | Tagged community, faculty, mental health, President, President Ono, Professor Santa Ono, reach out, Support, thrive, Thriving faculty, UBC, wellbeing | Leave a response
By Miranda Massie on October 29, 2014
Nov. 3-7, 2014, marks the 6th annual Thrive week held at UBC Vancouver.
Thrive is about celebrating our collective mental health and working together as a community to build skills, increase resiliency and help each another to cope effectively with challenges.
I believe Thrive is a celebration.
The intention behind this initiative is not to detract from the seriousness of mental illness. The prevalence of mental illness, paired often with a lack of adequate social support, is a serious issue facing not only those in our communities and our country, but individuals around the world. The prospect of improving mental health support systems and statistics is daunting, to say the least, and I feel quite powerless to effect any sustainable change.
What I do have to power and capacity to do, especially in my job at UBC, is to empower, encourage, educate and support others in understanding that mental health is a universal concept. We all have mental health and we do have some control over how we face the day and how it impacts our lives. This is the message I would like to share with you this month:
UBC Thrive is a celebration.
It is a celebration of our diverse campus communities.
It is a celebration of the collective mental health that unites us.
It is a celebration of our efforts to cope effectively with life’s challenges.
It is a celebration of our small victories on the road to success.
It is a celebration of our (very human) stumbles and setbacks along the way.
It is a celebration of those who work to ensure that we can teach, work and learn in an informed and supportive environment.
It is a celebration of those who struggle to find balance each day, but keep trying.
It is a celebration the resources that exist that we can reach out to for support.
It is a celebration of those who have reached out to get help for themselves or others.
It is a celebration of the thriving campus community that we are working to build and achieve.
Did you know…
Thrive, as a positive mental health movement, is spreading across the country. This year, 10 other Universities across Canada have adopted and adapted “Thrive” on their campuses, using UBC’s collaborative model to promote positive mental health!
This month, I invite you to celebrate with me. Attend a Thrive event, be inspired by stories of others, talk about mental health or reach out if you or someone you know is in need. Highlights include UBC’s Largest Zumba class on Friday, Nov. 7 at 12pm at the Student Recreation Centre (SRC). See full event listings here.
Let’s celebrate our mental health and let’s keep thriving!
All my best,
*Remember: No matter who you are or your role on campus, help is out there – for you and for those you might be concerned about. Learn more about the mental health resources that exist on campus for faculty, staff, managers, deans and HR professionals.
Posted in Editorial, Events, Mental Health, Miranda Massie | Tagged celebration, editorial, mental health, Miranda Massie, reach out, resilience, success, Support, thrive, Thrive 2014, UBC | Leave a response
By Miranda Massie on October 1, 2014
I am a person who likes options. I savour the enjoyment that comes from sampling a variety of dishes when eating out with friends. I have a cupboard at home filled with more variations of green tea than most people know exist. I keep more than three thousand songs on my phone at any given time, just in case I’m in the mood to listen to something specific.
Perhaps this comes from a childhood spent pouring over “Choose Your Own Adventure” books, or more likely it stems from a fear of missing out on something exciting. Regardless of the reason, I like to explore my options and ultimately select the meal, item, situation or path that is the best choice for me at the time.
The more work that I do at UBC around mental health and wellbeing, the more I think about the concept of community. What defines communities? Are they created with intention, or do they happen organically? What can we as individuals do to connect with the people around us and the environment in which we live and work?
5 ideas for building community at UBC
1) Schedule a social meeting. Far too often we meet with colleagues, discuss the issues at hand then hurriedly part ways without leaving ourselves time to connect on a social or personal level. Try adding 10 minutes to the end of your next meeting to chat with your colleagues about their most recent vacation, their family or their latest work project.
2) Join in. Join a class, leisure activity or committee that interests you. This will provide a new group of people with whom to interact and you are sure to already have interests in common.
3) Use children or pets as a way to connect. I know a number of new parents who have created wonderful and supportive communities as a result of chatting with other parents at the park, daycare or classes. You can try the same thing at the dog park or the beach with your pets.
4) Get friendly with your surroundings. Research shows that exposure and familiarity with our surroundings leads to increased feelings of safety and social connection. Knowing the ins and outs of the campus a bit more can help us feel connected to our physical space. (Zajonc, 2001)
5) Reach out when in need. Allowing ourselves to be vulnerable or asking for assistance can be daunting, yet we all know how great it feels to help others. Next time you need support, express that to someone else and it might bring you closer to those around you.
Check out UBC’s Community Engagement Initiative for more ideas.
This month, I invite you to build your own community on campus and to choose the path that suits you the best; whether through involvement, learning, wellbeing, leisure, or a smorgasbord of other options.
We work together at UBC and some of us also live within these gates, and we will be better served and able to better serve others if we start to reimagine ourselves as being part of a supportive and caring set of communities.
Zajonc, R.B. (2001). Mere exposure: A gateway to the subliminal. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 10, 224–228.
By Colin Hearne on October 1, 2014
We can all feel nervous, shy, or bashful at times. This type of social anxiety can be a helpful feeling when it motivates us to necessary action, or warn us of danger. However, when anxiety begins to impacts our lives, including how we think, feel and act, it is important to realise that help is available.
UBC ‘s Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP) provider Homewood Health offers a unique, short-term and solution-focused counselling approach that focuses on enabling individuals, couples and families to work on their life problems, including anxieties. The information you share with UBC’s EFAP provider is confidential, and is not shared with UBC. The University is not told the identity of those using EFAP services, including online services.
To access UBC’s EFAP services through Homewood Health, visit www.homewoodhumansolutions.com or call 1-800-663-1142 (toll- free, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week).
The Canadian Mental Health Association tells us that many people who experience an anxiety disorder think that they should just be able to ‘get over it on their own,’ whereas others may need time to recognize how deeply anxiety affects their life. Anxiety disorders are real illnesses that affect a person’s wellbeing. It’s important to talk to a doctor about your mental health concerns. Sometimes, physical health conditions can cause symptoms of anxiety. Your doctor will work with you to look at all possible causes of anxiety.
Want to know more?
For more information on UBC’s Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP), visit our website. To book a presentation for your unit to review the free EFAP services available for UBC staff and faculty, contact Colin Hearne, Health and Wellbeing Associate, at 604-827-3047 or email@example.com.