Health benefits, counseling changed for employees

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Story by Kayla Harrell, News Editor and Ashley Traylor, Staff writer

Screen Shot 2016-01-27 at 8.56.54 PMMurray State changed its health benefits for employees as of Jan. 1 by adding a program that offers a range of counseling services.

This Employee Assistance Program is a voluntary, free and confidential program that provides professional help, such as counseling, financial help, legal guidance and stress management to employees and their household members.

Martin Dowling, teacher assistant of public speaking, said the program is important and can help faculty and staff.

“In our day in age, we do not have too many options on where to go or who to talk to if you have problems that fall into this range of issues,” Dowling said.   Murray State made changes to its health benefit program, and after a reallocation of money, the Employee Assistance Program was approved during the budget process.

Joyce Gordon, director of Human Resources, first heard about the program ten years ago, and she worked to bring this program to Murray State.

“Most organizations have some type of Employee Assistance Program, but we just simply had not,” Gordon said. “This year, I was successful at keeping it on the budget priority list.”

The programs is administered by Wayne Corporation, “a firm specializing in personal counseling,” according to Murray State’s Human Resources website. The firm is located in Louisville, Kentucky.

The program is aimed at helping professionals at Murray State with any issue they are facing, whether it is financial problems, legal matters, stress, alcohol abuse or a death in the family. The program reaches out to the employee’s household as well.

Before this year, employees could see counselors at Murray State’s Counseling Center.

Gordon

Gordon

“The actual University Counseling Services will continue to see anyone who they are seeing currently,” Gordon said. “But they will refer all new requests to the EAP.”

The new Employee Assistance Program includes an assessment, short-term counseling and referral services, according to Wayne Corporation’s website.

“All counselors are fully trained and licensed for independent practice as mental health specialists in either clinical social work or clinical psychology,” according to Wayne Corporation’s website.

The program does not require copays or premiums. Everyone has access to the resources and tools the program provides at no cost “because Murray State values each employee,” according to Murray State’s Human Resources website.

For each request, an employee can receive up to six counseling sessions. Faculty and staff are given options of local providers, “depending on their specific needs,” Gordon said.

“The faculty or staff member would contact EAP,” Gordon said. “They would be referred to an appropriate local provider based on the problem they are having.”

There are alternatives to counseling that the program offers such as webinars, articles and videos that are helpful for smaller issues.

A faculty or staff member can sign up on Wayne Corporation’s website to be informed when their educational seminars are scheduled.

In an emergency, the company has a licensed therapist available 24/7 to answer the phone.

Along with being free, the program is confidential. Human Resources will not know if an employee reached out to the program.

At the end of each month, Human Resources will receive the number of calls and the number of visits. They will only see the trends of how the program is being utilized.

There are no eligibility requirements to use this service. There is a dedicated website to sign up for counseling and watch the webinars on stress management, taking care of yourself and making good decisions. The website is found under Murray State’s human resource’s page.

The overall purpose of the EAP is to give faculty and staff the resources and tools they need to be more productive. The program falls under the umbrella of well-being.

“It is making good choices and continuing to make good choices,” Gordon said. “It helps people become more involved in their problems. It goes hand in hand with an employee’s well-being.”

An Employee Assistance vendor came to campus on Jan. 27, so employees could learn more about the EAP.

The EAP vendor met with various groups including front-line supervisors, university counseling services staff and Human Resources staff, and conducted a general employee orientation session, Gordon said.

There will also be training throughout the year for supervisors to familiarize themselves with the program.

Faculty and staff have been informed about the new program through RacerNation Information, fliers distributed on both the main and regional campuses and Human Resources’ social media accounts, Gordon said.

“I believe in it so firmly,” Gordon said. “I think this is a benefit that is needed, that is good for the employees and good for the university. I am very excited about it.”