Supporting Staff Mental Health

Before your employees are employees, they are people first. They, like you, have their unique struggles and circumstances. Supporting their work in creating their best possible life augments what they bring into their jobs. As leaders of teams, schools, or organizations, you want to give them all the tools they need to be their best. More than ever, the workplace is in a state of flux, and constant change can create a demanding work environment. It’s been that much more challenging during and following the pandemic.

At Classical, supporting well-being is our commitment to all employees. Wellness requires a commitment of time and effort that is grounded in our core values. Taking care of ourselves, and of each other, is crucial. We all work hard for the benefit of the Classical mission, our scholars, and their families. In early 2022, our staff survey results underscored that Wellbeing and Health & Safety are primary concerns. As leaders, we must honor the importance of responding swiftly to the needs of our employees as they arise.

Our organization has over 250 employees, so the cultural changes we rolled out understandably took time, but what could we do immediately that could prove helpful? We identified two methods for staff to access health care of varying levels of crisis.

First, we purchased the Calm App for all staff. Calm is a leading app for mental resilience and fitness. The app provides tools for taking an active approach to overall well-being and better preparing for stress and anxiety. The programs are designed to support feelings of relaxation, creativity, confidence and success. We found the Calm app easy to use. It’s important to set your own internal expectations here: the majority of staff likely won’t use it. But for those that do, it’s a very important part of their mental hygiene. For those staff, and for anyone who needs crisis care, it’s worth it. (There are other similar apps, such as Headspace that we’ve heard is just as effective.)

Second, we launched our own Employee Assistance Program (EAP) for all Classical employees and their households, effective immediately. We chose SupportLinc which features emotional wellbeing and work-life balance resources to keep your staff at their best. We offer health incentives for gym memberships as a way for staff members to prioritize their personal and mental health. They have the opportunity to get a percentage of the membership cost reimbursed. The program offers guidance to help address and resolve everyday issues at no cost to staff.

• In-the-moment support. A licensed clinician answers 24/7/365 upon calls for assistance with work-related pressures, depression, stress, anxiety, grief, relationship problems, substance abuse, or other emotional health concerns.

• Short-term counseling. Your staff and immediate household members may also receive up to seven (7) counseling sessions, in-person or via video.

• Legal consultation. Staff are eligible for a free, 30-minute legal consultation per personal issue with a local attorney, by phone or in-person.

• Convenience resources. Knowledgeable specialists provide referrals that help address a wide range of challenges such as child or elder care, adoption, pet care, home repair, education, financial, and housing needs.

• Web platform. A one-stop-shop is provided for discounted gym memberships, financial calculators, self-assessments, and career resources, along with a variety of other discounts by visiting the Savings Center.

• Mobile app. This app offers confidential support and guidance on-the-go from a licensed counselor via live chat, as well as expert content and resources – all from the convenience of your phone or tablet.

• Text therapy. Staff can exchange text messages, voice notes and resources Monday – Friday with a licensed counselor through the Textcoach® mobile and desktop app.

• Virtual Support Connect. This digital group support platform offers moderated sessions hosted by licensed counselors on topics such as grief, mindfulness, preventing burnout, and more.

It goes without saying that this is not a complete solution to supporting your staff. Classical is continuously and proactively striving to enhance mental health and wellness benefits and resources.

For example, we encourage all staff to make it a habit to take time to relax, refresh, and recharge. We allocate space within each school for staff to take lunch, and we “book end” meeting times so no meetings start too early, or end too late. We try to keep all staff regularly informed of available resources and access channels to help manage work dynamics, build more resilience and enhance productivity. This allows us to be at our best in our professional roles. Taking advantage of these tools, services, and benefits – either for ongoing issues or when in times of crisis – can help employees to adapt, regardless of their responsibilities or location.

All of us have been affected by the pandemic and the dramatic changes it has made in our lives. Let’s be sure to take care of ourselves, and one another, to foster an inclusive community of belonging as we move forward together.

Classical Charter Schools relies on the thoughts, opinions, and innovations of our staff to move our mission forward and provide an excellent academic option to families in the South Bronx. To hear more from our staff, check out the next post! Or, click here to learn more.

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