By Miranda Massie on June 4, 2019
I recently attended a national conference on mental health in the workplace. The first keynote speaker stood up and began his presentation with a question: “If we don’t have mental health at work, what do we have?” He was emphasising how common professional and workplace goals (including productivity, success, achievement and growth) depend on our capacity to foster and maintain our mental health. In other words, we have to be well to work well.
Wellbeing is a complex interaction of the biological, psychological and social aspects of our lives. It is the ability to understand the role that each of these aspects plays in supporting us to reach our full potential. 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 face. In UBC’s Wellbeing Strategic Framework, mental health and resilience is a priority area because it recognizes how important effective coping strategies are to our mental health and our abilities to live, learn, work and support one another.
What I have just described is a concept called “mental health literacy”. This type of health literacy goes beyond awareness and understanding, emphasizing the actions we can take to care for our mental health. Specifically, it involves:
- Understanding how to obtain and maintain positive mental health
- Understanding mental disorders and their treatments
- Decreasing stigma related to mental disorders
- Understanding how to seek help effectively
All of these components help us manage our relationships, problem solve effectively, feel positive about our lives and selves, and achieve our goals.
Fast facts to boost your mental health literacy:
Not all stress is bad
Stress is a normal part of the human experience; it allows us to learn, grow and develop. Recognizing when stress has become chronic or harmful can help us minimize the potential negative impacts on our wellbeing . Whether we view stressors as positive or negative can also affect how they impact our lives . The following resources provide additional information about stress, its impacts and ways to manage it.
- How to Make Stress Your Friend (Ted Talk)
- Toxic stress and early human development (Harvard University)
- Advice for managing effects of stress from UBC’s Dr. Eli Puterman
Mental health is not the same as mental illness
Being mentally well is different from having a diagnosed mental illness . People living with mental illness can achieve high levels of mental health. Conversely, just because someone doesn’t have a mental illness does not mean that they are feeling or coping well.
Language is important
Words are powerful, and our choice of words and phrases can inadvertently feed into negative attitudes and behaviour surrounding mental illness. By increasing our literacy and shifting our language to be more accurate and empathetic, we can positively impact those experiencing mental illness.
Asking for or offering help is good for us
Reaching out to others for support or connection is a sign that our body’s stress response is functioning effectively . Helping others buffers the negative impacts of stress and improves our overall resilience . Assess your mental health from time to time and ask for help if you need it. Learn to recognize when someone else may have declining mental health and help them find resources for support. UBC HR provides the following support services for faculty and staff:
- Online mental health assessment tools
- How to help colleagues in distress
- Counselling services through UBC’s Employee and Family Assistance Program (available to all UBC employees and their eligible dependents)
- Clinical mental health services (including extended health provisions)
We all have a role to play in creating safe, supported and educated communities at UBC. This month, I encourage you to increase you mental health literacy through one of the resources mentioned above or by trying something new for your mental health.
All my best,
 Public Health Agency of Canada, 2014
 Kutcher et al., 2016, p.155; Whitley, Smith, & Vaillancourt, 2012; Whitley & Gooderham, 2016
 The Working Mind Training, Mental Health Commission of Canada, 2018
 Abiola Keller et al., “Does the perception that stress affects health matter? The association with health and mortality”, Health Psychology, September 2012
 Corey L. M. Keyes. (2002). The Mental Health Continuum: From Languishing to Flourishing in Life. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 43(2), 207-222. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/3090197
 Heinrichs, M., Baumgartner, T., Kirschbaum, C., & Ehlert, U. (2003). Social support and oxytocin interact to suppress cortisol and subjective responses to psychosocial stress. Biological Psychiatry, 54(12), 1389-1398. doi:10.1016/S0006-3223(03)00465-7
 Michael J. Poulin et al., “Giving to others and the association between stress and mortality”, American Journal of Public Health, September 2013
Photo credit: UBC Human Resources
By Miranda Massie on May 2, 2019
The spring edition of Healthy UBC is always my favourite because I get to talk about a subject I’m passionate about: sex. As a community sexual health educator and health promoter, I see the critical importance of unbiased education, inclusive health care, and safe spaces for discussing a topic that’s often kept behind closed doors.
This month, I’m sharing some helpful hints, tips and information to support your sexual and reproductive health journeys.
Check under the hood regularly
Whether you’re sexually active or planning to conceive, regular checkups are important. Annual physicals or sexual health screenings help ensure that you’re free from health risks associated with your reproductive system, like infections or cancer.
To find a comfortable, supportive environment for all your needs, check out this list of sex-positive sexual health service providers across the province1. Click here to explore transgender and gender-affirming health care services in BC. (learn more about sex positivity and how to tell if your health care provider is sex-positive here).
Know your rights
Historically, many aspects of sexuality have been controlled, limited or prescribed by law. Supporting sexual health can sometimes involve knowing your rights and understanding how to advocate for them. Check out the following resources:
- Rights critical to the realization of sexual health (Action Canada for Sexual Health & Rights)
- Understanding abortion law in Canada (Options for Sexual Health)
- Sex Discrimination and Sexual Harassment (Human Rights in BC)
Avoid Dr. Google
The internet can be a scary place, especially when you type “sex” into the search bar. For accurate and unbiased information, try going directly to one of the following sources:
- Sex&U (The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada)
- Options for Sexual Health (BC member of International Planned Parenthood)
- Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights
- Sexual and Reproductive Health Week
- Sexual Violence Prevention and Response (UBC resource)
The body-brain connection
Mental health can impact our ability to lead the sexual lives we want (both positively and negatively). Conversely, difficulties like illness, injury and challenges with conception or sexual function can take an emotional toll on our wellbeing. The following resources explore the connection between the brain and sexual health:
- UBC researcher Dr. Lori Brotto’s work on mindfulness and sexual pleasure
- Sexual Health and Disability (Action Canada for Sexual Health & Rights)
- Pregnancy Loss Resources (BC Women’s Hospital & Health Centre)
Learning is a lifelong process
It’s never too early or too late to learn more about sexual health. Body science is a great way to teach young children about consent and prevent abuse. Older adults might try dating again, or learn about the physical changes that come with age. Regardless of age, there is always more to learn!
- Sex-Ed: What is it and why does it matter? (Action Canada for Sexual Health & Rights)
- Understanding your child’s sexual development and information and resources for children with differing abilities (Alberta Health Services’ teachingsexualhealth.ca)
- Sexuality and Aging (Centre for Sexuality)
- Sex and Seniors (Canadian Public Health Association)
- Why we need to talk about menopause — candidly (Globe and Mail)
I encourage you to consider one thing you might do to support your sexual or reproductive health. Have fun exploring what sexuality means to you and how it connects to your overall sense of wellbeing.
Don’t forget to “heart your parts”!
All my best,
Posted in Editorial, Mental Health, Miranda Massie, Physical Health | Tagged age, ageing, brain, care, editorial, mental health, physical health, reproductive health, rights, Safety, sex, sex positivity, sexual health, sexuality, Support, transgender | Leave a response
By Miranda Massie on April 2, 2019
The Healthy Workplace Initiatives Program (HWIP) provides start-up funds for health-related activities for UBC departments and units interested in promoting wellbeing in the workplace. Do you and your colleagues have a great idea for boosting the health and wellbeing of your team? Need a little financial assistance to supplement department resources? Consider applying today.
To date, the HWIP program has funded 327 grassroots initiatives, including stretching classes, health challenges, mental health training and creative activities.
In 2018, the program funded the following in Vancouver and the Okanagan:
- Four bike share programs
- 13 fitness class programs
- Nine team health challenges
- Five indoor/patio gardens
- Seven mental health training programs
- Three arts-based projects
- Eight innovative new ideas
Send your applications before the April 18, 2019 deadline.
Full details, including regulations, funding toolkits and application forms can be found on the HWIP page.
By Miranda Massie on April 2, 2019
This month, we feature Dr. Sarah Parry, a sessional instructor in academic writing and American literature in the Department of English Language and Literatures. Learn how developing and teaching a wellness curriculum intended to help students inspired Sarah to make changes that support her own health, as well as the wellbeing of her colleagues.
What are the central challenges you face in your role as faculty?
Sessional faculty face many challenges. We often teach many courses and work close to year-round, and our workloads can negatively affect our physical health, mental health and relationships. As well, contract work can be stressful as the prospects of long-term employment are uncertain. The lack of tenure-track positions can also result in low morale.
How do you manage these challenges?
With the help of the Student Health Promotion and Education unit, I developed a wellness curriculum for my first-year writing course. Though it was originally meant to help students, I have found that it helps me just as much! I use the text, Wellness Issues for Higher Education, which looks at stress, emotional health, exercise, diet, sleep and social and intellectual wellness, among other topics.
During the course, students develop and implement their own strategies for exercise, nutrition or time-management, and they write personal reflections about the changes they make to support their wellbeing. Some students use apps to monitor their social media use in order to create time for other activities. Others establish meal-sharing traditions or take yoga or other exercise classes.
I have learned how to sleep well as a consequence of teaching wellness and now swim three days a week. Taking the 30-Day Mindfulness Challenge was great, too. I am currently working to improve my social and relationship wellness by making sure I do something social once a week.
Can you offer any suggestions or advice for new sessionals or faculty to help them manage their time and work/life commitments?
I find it helpful to leave one day a week free for rest, even it it means getting up early on other days. I think it is a good practice to work no more than 60 hours per week in peak periods. The single most important thing I have learned is to maintain a regular sleep/wake cycle.
Are you involved in any specific initiatives and/or research that promote health, mental health and wellbeing?
As part of UBC’s Healthy Workplace Initiative Program, I established a faculty wellness room for the department, where faculty can retreat for short stretch, exercise or meditation breaks.
I also initiated ergonomics education to help faculty promote their own wellbeing while marking and lecturing. It’s important for them to know about best practices such using a slant board when marking to avoid excessive neck strain and using an anti-fatigue mat when lecturing. As well, I contacted the UBC Ergonomics Program about creating some classroom ergonomics resources to help faculty promote their own wellbeing while marking and lecturing.
I am also a member of the Teaching and Learning Wellbeing Community of Practice, which advocates for policies and practices that improve student and faculty wellbeing. We hold several events at CTLT (Centre for Teaching, Learning and Technology) every year. Faculty interested in joining us can contact Michael Lee, Gail Hammond or me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dr. Sarah Parry is a sessional instructor in academic writing and American literature in the Department of English Language and Literatures. She is chair of the Standing Sessional Committee and also serves on the Faculty of Arts Joint Occupational Health and Safety Committee and the Teaching and Wellbeing Community of Practice design team.
Photo courtesy of Sarah Parry
Posted in Guest Contributor, Thriving Faculty | Tagged challenges, English, faculty, learning, rest, sessional instructors, student success, Support, teaching, Thriving faculty, UBC, wellbeing | Leave a response
By Melissa Lafrance on April 2, 2019
Financial concerns can be overwhelming and can leave you feeling worried and powerless. That’s why taking control of your finances is crucial to enhancing and maintaining your financial and overall wellbeing. With the right advice and support, you can learn to be financially responsible, which will help you live well.
Monica’s Challenge: Understanding Finances and Paying Down Debt
Monica is fairly new to the workforce and, like many recent university and college graduates, she has accumulated some debt. She isn’t sure how to manage her income and expenses while paying down her debt, which worries and frustrates her. She wonders if living debt-free is even possible. Monica hopes to learn about finance and debt management so she can pay off her student loan and achieve financial security and wellbeing.
How EFAP can offer financial advice and education:
Morneau Shepell, UBC’s Employee & Family Assistance Program (EFAP) provider, offers professional financial advice through free confidential consultations over the phone. EFAP financial advisors can answer Monica’s questions and recommend a course of action to help her meet her goals. If Monica needs more specific, personal and/or longer-term financial advice, they can refer her to a financial advisor outside of the EFAP.
Monica can also learn from EFAP’s Online Financial Planning Service, an interactive and personalized financial education and planning program. The three-month program includes an assessment of her current financial situation and a tailored action plan complete with worksheets, calculators and task lists.
When she calls the Care Access Centre at 1-800-387-4765, Monica can book the type of consultation she needs.
Morneau Shepell’s online resource hub offers articles on financial security; topics include debt management, budgeting, investing and retirement planning. (Note: Please enter “University of British Columbia” as your organization to access these articles.)
How to access health coverage through Extended Health benefits:
As a UBC employee, Monica can support her financial and overall health and wellbeing through the UBC Extended Health plan. She can be reimbursed for the cost of many healthcare services, including prescription drugs, paramedical practitioners’ services and vision care. Learn about the many benefits available to UBC’s faculty and staff.
By Miranda Massie on March 4, 2019
This month’s Thriving Campus feature is Isabeau Iqbal, an educational developer in the Centre for Teaching, Learning and Technology. Isabeau is also the mother of a teenager with an eating disorder. The following interview and information are being shared with permission from Isabeau and her daughter.
Thank you for taking the time to share your story with us. Can you please tell us how you became aware of your daughter’s eating disorder?
I first became aware of the eating disorder in the summer of 2018. It took being off work and spending holiday time with my daughter to realize how bad it was. At first, it just looked like healthy eating and living (exercise, being cautious about eating foods we typically label as healthy – i.e. lots of fruit and vegetables). Then, I started to notice unusual behaviour around food, especially excessive planning and control. Once I realized how far along and how bad it was, I started looking for resources.
That process of finding resources was surprisingly difficult given the prevalence of eating disorders — trying to figure out who could offer what, and the fastest route [to treatment] was challenging. Early on, I realized I couldn’t just rely on the “free to me” resources in the external community: because the demand is so high, places like the Eating Disorder Clinic only see people who are advanced in their disorder. By coincidence, one of my colleagues from Alberta had presented at a conference I attended, where he shared his experience with his own daughter having an eating disorder. He was the first person I reached out to and he was able to connect me with the Looking Glass Foundation.
How has this impacted your work life?
For a number of months, I was like a deer in headlights, trying to figure out what was going on. Unless you’ve been through the experience, it’s hard to know [what it’s like]. I had never had any experience with mental illness before, so it was a really foreign experience for me. At first, I didn’t tell people what was going on because I was hanging on and trying to understand. I was so lost and trying to figure out what resources might be available to us – all this takes time.
I was receiving multiple calls a day from a highly distressed teenager. I cancelled a conference presentation and a few other significant commitments in order to be more available to my daughter. Thankfully, I work part-time and have a lot of autonomy and flexibility in my work. Eventually, I started telling a few close colleagues and my manager. I had understanding colleagues and collaborators which was really great.
Did you access any UBC specific resources during this time?
The mindfulness challenge. I had done it before, but maybe because of the situation, I felt it was more helpful this time around and I was more into it. That was probably the most helpful resource that I was able to access and make use of.
How are you and your daughter doing at this time?
She’s doing much, much better. She still experiences anxiety, which I think is the normal course of affairs, but she’s transformed. I see her smile, she has energy. I look into her face and it’s a different person. Our relationship is back to what it was.
The amount of crying and the amount of distress I felt in the fall was unlike anything I’ve experienced before, so the fact that she’s better, I’m better. I feel so lucky to have found a great therapist and nutritionist who have been able to support us. And I’m grateful for the support that we have at UBC in terms of benefits. In terms of flexibility and financial supports, it’s big.
Recognizing that eating disorders can have life-long implications, what are you doing to stay resilient and support your continued health and wellbeing?
The ability for me to be present for my daughter has been very important. I’ve been dabbling in mindfulness for a while, and I would say this [experience] really required me to be present. Because when she needed me, I had to let everything else go and be with her. Now, when my head starts to worry that this could come back, what if it happens when she’s not under my care and things like that, I try and bring myself to the now and let go of the worry. It’s too easy to slip into the what-if’s. I subscribe to the Headspace app which helps me keep up my mindfulness practice.
What does being a member of the UBC community mean to you in light of your recent challenges?
I have a supportive manager, as well as fabulous colleagues: they are good friends and people that I trust to be myself around. To be able to speak with colleagues and to let them know this is what’s going on for me has been important.
If you could offer advice to managers or supervisors on campus who don’t have experience in supporting their staff members in a time like this, what would you tell them?
Try and learn a little bit more about the experience that the person [staff member] is going through. I was able to tell my manager that my daughter has an eating disorder and that it is stressful, and it might have been helpful for me to say what that meant for me day-to-day. Ask the person, “What is important for me to know about [what you’re going through]?”
Do you have any suggestions or advice to offer to those who may be experiencing a similar challenge?
Do not suffer alone and do not wait. Access [available] help and resources as soon as possible. The change that we started to see as soon as my daughter started eating was encouragement enough to keep going. I started to see glimmers of recovery. Eating disorders are under the big umbrella of ‘mental health’, but it really is a specific area that needs specialized support. The most important thing is to find the support you need to get your child eating, and for us that was an amazing nutritionist. We are lucky, in this big city, that there are some fabulous and specialized therapists as well as other resources. Consider joining an online support network for people caring for someone with an eating disorder (FEAST-ED).
Why did you want to share this story with us and our Healthy UBC readers?
If this story can help one person, I will be happy. This is the hardest experience I’ve ever lived through. I felt so lost and so alone and so sad. My daughter and I want to share our experience to help others who may be going through something similar. During the fall, when my daughter was struggling through her recovery, I thought, many times, of how much easier it would be to be gone from this earth. I want people to know that getting help for an eating disorder is not easy, but there are ways forward.
To learn more or to support a person struggling with an eating disorder, please access the following resources:
- Employee and Family Assistance Program: Naturopath, dietitian, health coaching and family counselling services; confidential and available 24/7
- Extended Health Benefits: Coverage for naturopath and /or dietitian services
In the community
- Kelty Eating Disorders – BC support and resources
- Dietitians of Canada – Find a Dietitian Service
- Canadian Benefits for Caregivers
Photo credit: Isabeau Iqbal
By Melissa Lafrance on March 4, 2019
There’s no better time to think about food and nutrition: March is National Nutrition Month. At UBC, food and nutrition are important priorities of UBC Wellbeing, and your UBC benefits offer many services and programs that can support you (and your eligible dependents) in the shift to healthier eating and living. Read on to learn more about the services available to support a healthy lifestyle.
Whitney’s Challenge: Eating for life
Whitney was recently diagnosed with hypercholesterolemia and prescribed medication to manage her cholesterol levels. She’s hopeful that the medication will help, but wants to learn more about her condition and the proven diet and lifestyle changes that she can make to support her health.
How EFAP can be a health coach and a nutrition support service:
Through Morneau Shepell, UBC’s Employee & Family Assistance Program (EFAP) provider, Whitney can obtain health advice from expert professionals who can recommend effective ways to manage cholesterol levels. Registered dietitians, naturopaths and health coaches are available to assess eating habits, identify dietary concerns and provide risk-reduction action plans. When she calls the Care Access Centre at 1-800-387-4765, Whitney can book the type of consultation she needs.
Morneau Shepell also offers an online hub of resources with articles to improve and maintain nutritional health, including Keeping your cholesterol in check and Heart Smarts: quick tips to stay heart healthy. (Note: Please enter “University of British Columbia” as your organization to access these articles.)
How to access paramedical coverage through Extended Health benefits:
The UBC Extended Health plan supports employees like Whitney in their continuing health and wellbeing with coverage for a wide range of services from paramedical practitioners (e.g. registered dietitians, naturopaths, etc.) Learn about your coverage for paramedical services.
For more information
Through our Workplace Wellbeing & Benefits website and nutritional health page, you’ll find a variety of health and wellbeing information, resources and healthy recipes to help motivate you to cook more.
You can also visit our online Virtual Health Fair, where you’ll find over 20 screenings, tools and resources to help assess your current wellbeing status and make improvements towards a healthier self.
By Miranda Massie on February 5, 2019
Recent life events have reminded me of just how fragile our health can be. It is something we often take for granted, until it fails us in some way. These setbacks can leave us feeling betrayed by the very vessel that is supposed to protect and sustain us.
Sometime we don’t want to move. Sometimes we can’t. Sometimes it hurts. And sometimes, our minds are focused on other things. It can be easy to focus on all of the things that are going wrong, and not leave space for what might be going right.
Regardless of where we are in our individual journeys towards health, there are lots of ways to spark inspiration and progress. Below is a diverse list of ideas to prompt some acts of love for our bodies and minds.
- Try 20-Body Positive Affirmations (Popsugar Fitness)
- Take a Virtual Health Check-up (UBC Health, Wellbeing and Benefits)
- Use a stretch prompter recommended by UBC Ergonomics or download a break reminder like Stretch Clock, Stand up! or Workrave.
- Wear Your Active Wear on February 28
- Connect physically with others (The Guardian)
This month, I encourage you to find a way to show your body some love. Try focusing on the parts of your body that you love instead of loathe. Perhaps change your routine to allow for more sleep. Maybe book a check-up or a massage. You might indulge in your favourite foods.
However you go about it, aiming a little gratitude towards your body can go a long way to supporting your physical and emotional health.
All my best,
By Melissa Lafrance on February 5, 2019
Has your physical wellbeing taken a back seat? Whether you have some personal fitness goals or an ailment you should pay attention to, remember that UBC has lots of resources to offer – from extended health benefits to ergonomics. Read on to learn more about the services available to support your physical wellbeing.
Jason’s Challenge: When the path to good physical health becomes a pain
Jason recently decided to start a new training regime to enhance his ability to run a marathon in four months. Since increasing his running schedule to three times a week, Jason has found that the pain in his right calf has returned (the injury was initially brought on by a fall.) The pain is causing him to adjust his daily physical activities. Jason realizes he needs expert advice and treatment to help reduce the pain and prevent further injury.
How to access paramedical coverage through Extended Health benefits:
The UBC Extended Health benefits plan supports employees like Jason in their continuing health and wellbeing. Jason’s benefits include coverage for a wide range of services from paramedical practitioners such as physiotherapists, registered massage therapists, chiropractors, acupuncturists, podiatrists and more. Learn about your coverage for paramedical services.
How EFAP can be a coach for improving physical health:
Morneau Shepell, UBC’s Employee & Family Assistance Program (EFAP) provider, can also support Jason’s training. When he calls the Care Access Centre at 1-800-387-4765, Jason can book a health coaching consultation, which can motivate him to make changes to be well and stay well.
Morneau Shepell offers an online hub of resources with articles to improve and maintain physical health (e.g. putting the fun back into fitness, fitness at work, and climbing back on the fitness wagon.) (Note: Please enter “University of British Columbia” as your organization to access these articles.)
How mindfulness can provide focus:
Training the mind is also an important part of any fitness goal. If Jason is looking to strengthen his mental resolve, he can sign up for the 30-Day Online Mindfulness Challenge. Using evidence-based curricula, this mindfulness training, which begins every Monday, can be a simple yet powerful tool in honing mental wellbeing.
Jocelyn’s Dilemma: How to get back to active
Jocelyn has been experiencing increasing back tension and discomfort. It might be caused by a variety of factors, including feelings of anxiety which seems to add to her physical tension and using a new desk and chair in a new office environment. The discomfort has caused her to skip out on her favourite yoga classes, which she knows are beneficial for general physical health. Jocelyn wants to address this appropriately and return to her usual, active self.
How EFAP can help:
To address her feelings of anxiety (but to avoid aggravating her back), Jocelyn could use EFAP’s confidential video counselling service from the comfort of her own apartment. A professional counsellor can provide appropriate strategies and tools to help manage anxiety. If the situation requires specialized care or long-term counselling, Morneau Shepell will find resources that best meet individual needs and budget.
How to access paramedical coverage through Extended Health benefits:
Similar to Jason, Jocelyn can access UBC Extended Health benefits that cover paramedical services like physiotherapy, massage therapy, chiropractic treatments, acupuncture and more. Find out about your coverage for paramedical practitioners.
How ergonomics can help:
UBC Ergonomics can help ensure that the design and arrangement of Jocelyn’s workstation allows for optimal use and prevents the risk of musculoskeletal injuries. She can access an online Ergo Your Office Guide, a tool for setting up a workstation ergonomically, or sign up for an upcoming Ergo workshop or training.
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 Melissa Lafrance on December 5, 2018
For people who struggle with substance use and addictions, it can sometimes be difficult to seek out help and support. It is important to know that no matter how you are feeling, you are not alone. Whether you are looking for help for yourself or supporting a loved one, reach out. Help is available.
Tara’s Concerns: When you are worried about your teenager
Tara is a mother of two and notices that one of her teenage sons is exhibiting addictive behaviours. Lucas has hinted that he might be experimenting with drugs and alcohol and that it has become a coping mechanism. When Tara has brought up her concerns around substance use, Lucas has become angry, hostile and defensive and has become increasingly emotionally distant. Worried about his safety and wellbeing, she’s in need of finding help for herself and Lucas.
Confidential Addiction and Parenting Support:
The Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP), provided by Morneau Shepell, is a confidential and voluntary counselling support service. Counsellors can help with a range of issues, including mental health challenges and substance use or addiction. Services are available in a variety of formats, including video counselling. Tara and Lucas would be able to connect with a professional that specializes in substance use and addiction to receive short-term counselling in they own home at a time that is convenient for them.
Tara can also access parenting advice that will help her communicate with her teenage sons about serious issues. This can be in the form of a consultation and/or she can read the many articles available through www.workhealthlife.com, including this one on having the big talk. (Note: Please enter “University of British Columbia” as your organization.)
If the situation requires specialized care or long-term counselling, Morneau Shepell will work to find resources to best meet individual needs and budget.
UBC’s Extended Health Plan also provides reimbursement of counselling services. EFAP can refer them to a registered psychologist, social worker or clinical counsellor. Tara and her eligible dependents, may be reimbursed for 100% of reasonable and customary charges, up to a maximum of $2,500 per person, per year. No doctor’s referral is required to access this service.
Bruce’s Challenge: When gambling isn’t fun anymore
Bruce has always enjoyed a night out at the casino with friends. A few months ago, after comments from a family member regarding the amount of time he spent gambling, he switched to online poker instead. He also recently had to sell his car to be able to pay his rent. Bruce is feeling increasingly self conscious about his gambling and has begun to question whether or not his habits are cause for concern. He would like to talk to a counsellor about his situation and also needs help figuring out his finances.
How EFAP can help:
EFAP has many addictions-related articles including this one on understanding gambling addiction. EFAP provides confidential short-term, in-person counselling that can help Bruce talk about his concerns and determine if he has a gambling addiction. An EFAP counsellor could help him develop coping strategies and practical tools for abstaining from addictive behaviour, with the goal of maintaining abstinence over time. Bruce can also access First Chat, a confidential chat platform that provides online support any time of day.
Bruce would also be able to access financial consultations over the phone to help with budgeting and debt reduction. If the situation requires specialized care or long-term counselling, Bruce could be referred to a counsellor within the community and be covered through UBC’s Extended Health Plan.
For a list of additional resources at UBC and within your community including help lines, support groups, and harm reduction and treatment options, visit the Substance Use and Addiction Support Resources page.