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  • Mental Health Matters: 6 Steps Organizations Can Take to Create a More Supportive and Compassionate

    Mental health concerns cost Canadian employers billions of dollars in absenteeism, presenteeism, and turnover. As we spend a significant portion of our lives at work, it is essential that mental health conversations become apriority in every workplace. These conversations can help to promote a healthier and more productive work environment. There are many things that you can do to increase employee wellness and mental health. Here are six approaches for creating a supportive workplace culture around mental health. 1. Raise Awareness Raising awareness is the first step to identifying and recognizing the importance of mental health and workplace wellness in the organization. This can be done through educational campaigns, training sessions, and workshops throughout the organization. Providing resources and information to employees on how to recognize the signs of mental health issues, how to seek help, and how to support colleagues who are struggling can destigmatize mental health and facilitate open conversations at the workplace. 2. Create a Supportive Work Environment Employees are more likely to feel positive and motivated when they feel supported by their workplace. Encourage employees by providing opportunities to express their opinions and concerns, engage in open communication and feedback, and participate in activities that foster a sense of community and belonging. This can be achieved through team-building ventures, social gatherings, and other initiatives to bring employees together. Keep in mind that personality and communication styles can differ vastly when it comes to the topic of mental health and wellness at the workplace. Consider catering to both introverted and extroverted personality types by offering a variety of ways to express feedback. This could include online surveys, one-on-one or group discussions, or anonymous suggestion boxes. 3. Offer Flexible Work Arrangements Flexible work arrangements can help reduce workplace stress and improve work-life balance. Remote work, flexible hours, and compressed work weeks allow employees to work in a way that suits their individual needs and circumstances, which can lead to greater job satisfaction. Studies have shown that a 4-day workweek improves productivity, morale, employee retention, work-life balance, and overall happiness. 4. Promote Self-Care and Well-Being Encourage and educate employees on various ways to practice self-care and prioritize their well-being. You can offer workshops or training courses on topics that involve both mental and physical aspects, as both areas contribute to overall wellness. This may include mindfulness, stress management, nutrition, relationship, mindset, exercise, or family resources. FSEAP offers comprehensive service options and programs for all of the above topics, along with monthly newsletters, nutrition tips, and worksheets to distribute to your employees. 5. Provide Access to Mental Health Resources Counselling and support groups are important parts of mental health management and recovery. Not only can professionals help us feel heard and understood, but they can also help us explore and identify our thoughts, feelings, and patterns of behavior, allowing us to learn new coping skills or management techniques. These services can be provided through your EAP. Along with newsletters and tip sheets, FSEAP offers 24/7 access and crisis support from anywhere in North America, as well as personal counselling for individuals, couples, and families. 6. Monitor and Evaluate the Effectiveness of Your EAP Offering solutions to improve employee wellness can sometimes feel tricky and leaning on your EAP for guidance can be helpful. With FSEAP, you have access to dedicated account management and support services which allow you to monitor workplace and utilization trends, and create a program or action plan that is responsive to the unique needs of each organization and its culture. Wellness and mental health management strategies are essential to a healthy and productive workplace. Using EAPs can easily streamline this process and provide comprehensive support to your organization. If you are interested, reach out to FSEAP to learn more about what we can do to assist your organization.

  • Mental Health Stigma: Let’s Change This--Bell Let’s Talk Campaign 2023

    All of us go through varying stages of mental health change for different reasons, and many of us will experience significant mental health challenges in our lifetime. Normalizing conversations about mental health can save lives and help us all to feel more supported and connected. That’s why, every year in January, the Bell Let’s Talk campaign raises mental health awareness in Canada. As an EAP provider in Canada with a social mission for change, FSEAP is committed to reducing the impact of mental health challenges on individuals and workplaces that are affected. One in four Canadians experience high levels of anxiety – that means someone you know might be struggling, and maybe you are struggling right now as well. When someone asks you how you’re feeling, do you answer honestly? There is still a lot of stigma around mental health and this leads people to hide their pain and their struggle, out of embarrassment or fear of being judged. Let’s change this. Every year, at least 4,500 people die by suicide. Since the pandemic, 20 people die each day as a result of opiate overdose. The cost-of-living crisis, unresolved trauma, and mounting stress levels contribute to Canadians turning to suicide, drugs, and alcohol as a way to cope. This is partially because the stigma around suicide and substance use discourages many people from accessing the support they need. Let’s change this. If you know someone who is struggling, speak to them. If you are struggling, get in touch with loved ones or connect your EAP or a support line for help. Let’s get talking One of the biggest hurdles for anyone suffering from mental health challenges is overcoming the stigma of having a problem and asking for help. Talking openly about mental health challenges is the first step to reducing the stigma that prevents people from seeking support. Stigma is the number one reason why two-thirds of those living with these challenges do not seek help. Most people with mental health challenges can and do recover, and the first step is talking about it and being willing to listen to those in need. Here are 5 simple ways to help end the stigma that keeps too many from seeking help: Monitor your language: the words you use can make all the difference. Educate yourself: knowing the facts and myths about mental health can be a great way to help end the stigma. Be kind: simple acts of kindness can help open up the conversation and let someone know you are there for them. Listen and ask: being a good listener and asking how you can help can be the first step in recovery. Talk about it: mental health touches us all in some way, either directly, or through a friend, family member, or colleague. Anxiety, substance use, suicide, and other mental health challenges can have a tremendous impact on your workplace. Individuals facing these challenges may be taking time off work to cope with their own mental health challenges or to support their immediate family members and friends. Employees may have reduced productivity at work, leading to poor performance and increased potential for errors or conflict within the workplace. For support with ways to start the conversation about mental health in your workplace, connect with FSEAP. We have a number of services that we can offer to help you build a campaign for change in your workplace. You can also download the Bell Let’s Talk Conversation Guides that can be used to lead your own discussion about mental health or talk with someone you might be concerned about. It is essential, now more than ever, to improve our awareness and partner with FSEAP to reduce the impact of mental health challenges on your employees and your workplace. Now we’re talking.

  • Opioid Overdose Stigma, Risk, and Prevention

    Toxic drugs claimed more than 7,560 lives in Canada in 2020; approximately 21 deaths per day. During the first year of the pandemic, there was a 96% increase in apparent opioid toxicity deaths, compared to the year before. Since then, opioid deaths have remained high. This year, we mark International Overdose Awareness Day with a continued sense of grief, urgency, and hope that stigma and failed drug policy will become a thing of the past. A particularly tragic dimension of the issue is that overdoses are occurring right in people’s homes, where they use drugs that they thought would be safe. Many of those lost didn’t necessarily grapple with addiction issues but were using recreationally but with tainted drugs. And far too many are dying from overdose because they’re using alone. Observed on the 31st of August every year, International Overdose Awareness Day (IOAD) seeks to create better understanding of overdose, reduce the stigma of drug-related deaths, and create change that reduces the harms associated with drug use. Overdose can affect anybody and one of the messages of this day is that the people who overdose are our sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters – they are loved and they are missed. No family should ever have to go through the pain of losing a loved one because of overdose. Stigma around drug use Studies show that stigma is a major underlying factor driving the opioid crisis in Canada and acts as a major barrier to effective addiction prevention, treatment, and recovery efforts of the individual. The personal shame and public stigma attached to drug use have largely contributed to the worsening of the opioid crisis. Most of the public still think that substance use disorder or addiction only impacts people who struggle with homelessness or are on the streets, but most of the people dying from these toxic drugs are actually from families like our own, living in cities, suburbia, and rural communities. And while men 20 – 60 are at highest risk, rates are increasing at a faster rate for women, seniors (due to additional health issues/medications), and young children who are accidently exposed. According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, 21% of the population of Canada (approximately 6 million people) will meet the criteria for addiction at some point in their lifetime. When seen in this light, we begin to realize that substance abuse and addictions’ challenges are incredibly common across Canada. Risk Factors for an Overdose The following are the top risk factors for overdose: Tolerance Shift: Individuals with decreased tolerance due to recent release from incarceration, drug treatment/detoxification, hospitalization, abstinence, or intermittent non-daily use of opioids are at risk. Mixing Drugs: Combining opioids with other legal (including alcohol) or illegal substances may enhance their effects and thus increase the overdose risk. Previous History of Overdose: Individuals who have had a prior overdose event at any point in their lifetime are more likely to experience another overdose. Physical Health Issues: If a person’s body is already burdened with an acute or chronic illness (e.g., asthma, other substance use disorder, HIV, etc.), the person is more vulnerable to overdose. Variation in Strength/Content: Illegally purchased substances vary greatly in their strength (e.g., one bag of heroin or fentanyl might not be as strong as another bag even when obtained from the same seller). Switching Ingestion Method: How a person ingests a substance plays an important role in overdose risk. Injecting is usually riskier than other forms of administration, but an overdose can also occur when a person just swallows a single pill. Using Alone: If no one is there, no one can help. Overdose reversal can be effective 1-3 hours after use of the opioid, but the risk of fatality is high if the user is alone. Prevention and Harm Reduction If you use substances, follow these tips to reduce the chance of experiencing an overdose and to stay safe: Learn about Overdose Prevention Strategies and Support Lines (see resource links below) Don't use alone; but if you do, tell someone and use the Lifeguard App or Brave App Check for tainted drug warnings, and start with a small amount Do not mix substances, including alcohol Use where help is easily available (e.g. Supervised Consumption sites) Make a plan/know how to respond in case of an overdose Carry a Take Home Naloxone (THN) kit (Obtain a free kit learn how to use it before you need it) Talk to your health care provider about substance use and alternatives to toxic substances If you or your dependent family member are struggling with substance use, reach out to your EFAP for support. We’re here to help. If you want to participate in World Overdose Day events August 26th - 31st, follow these links to a list of events: Support Lines and Services National Overdose Response Service (NORS): a peer-run, peer-led overdose prevention hotline for Canadians providing loving, confidential, nonjudgmental support for you, whenever and wherever you use drugs. Call: 1-888-688-NORS (6677) Federal and Provincial Support Services: Other Resources Brave App: The Brave App connects app users with someone who can send help while using drugs alone. Users set up an overdose plan, detailing how, when, and who is sent for help; supporters activate the plan if an overdose is detected. Lifeguard App: The Lifeguard App offers a lifeline to people using drugs alone -- by monitoring the window during which an overdose can occur. Drug and Overdose information sites: Overdose Prevention Toolkits for Organizations

  • LIFT session, a LifeSpeak Company, Partners With FSEAP

    LIFT session, a LifeSpeak Company, Partners With FSEAP, a Leading Employee Assistance Program, to Bring Digital­ Physical Wellbeing Solutions to Its Clients TORONTO--(BUSINESS WIRE) -- LIFT session, a LifeSpeak Company (TSX: LSPK) and the leading fitness and wellness platform for benefit providers, announced it has expanded its global footprint in the EAP market by partnering with FSEAP, a not-for-profit organization that is a leading EAP provider. Through this partnership, FSEAP will add a compelling new offering to their EAP solution to service the burgeoning demand for physical wellness benefits by organizations around the world. "Organizations are recognizing physical wellness benefits play a critical role in employee stress, mental health management, and workforce engagement," said Raffi Tchakmakjian, President of LIFT session and Chief Growth Officer of LifeSpeak. "We're delighted to partner with FSEAP to help organizations around the world provide a more well-rounded wellbeing offering for their employees. LifeSpeak is committed to reducing the stigma around mental health and providing support for total wellbeing. We are especially proud to work with an organization that devotes 100% of its profits toward supporting mental health and community-based programs." This partnership will amplify FSEAP's proactive wellness offering with personalized, app-based workout journeys. The LIFT session platform offers on-demand and live virtual workouts and activities curated and delivered by experts in physical and mental wellness. This includes app-based workouts, web chats with wellness experts, micro wellness breaks, and more. FSEAP will also offer LIFT session wellness challenges to support clients as they help employees build healthy habits and foster workplace engagement in a hybrid work model. "Our clients continue to demand digital wellbeing solutions that can support and engage the entirety of their workforce," said Joyce Zuk, National FSEAP Board Chair. "Digital physical wellness was the next logical step in providing a well­ rounded wellness offering to support this need. We are especially excited about the opportunity that this provides us to further differentiate our offering with a high-quality solution that is known for its ease of use and high usage rates." As an online platform, LIFT session is accessible anytime and anywhere through any mobile or desktop device. It provides organizations with the company-branded experience they desire and users with the flexibility to access their program wherever and whenever they need it. The value LIFT session provides organizations is reflected in the 95+ percent satisfaction rate of its users. For more information about how LIFT session can help your organization with employee wellness and engagement, visit About LIFT session, a LifeSpeak company LIFT session, a LifeSpeak company (TSX: LSPK), is a digital fitness platform that helps wellness providers offer premium virtual fitness services to their clients. With LIFT's best-in-class virtual personal training, virtual group training, and wellness broadcast services, LIFT is capable of extending its partner's service offering beyond their physical locations and making their service offerings available to clients anywhere. By offering services through wellness providers and businesses, LIFT session offers its online fitness platform to millions of customers globally. Follow LIFT session on Instagram and LinkedIn About FSEAP Founded in 1974, FSEAP is a national social enterprise division of Family Service Agencies providing employee and family assistance programs (EFAP) and Integrated Workplace Wellness Solutions. As the only private, not-for-profit, community­ based EFAP provider in Canada, we strive to sustain healthy workplaces and strong communities. FSEAP's client-centric services support customers large and small in every economic sector with evidence-based solutions that promote and maintain the health and well-being of employees and workplaces. FSEAP's services support a diverse customer base and their employees with evidence-based solutions that promote and maintain the health and well-being of employees and the workplace. About LifeSpeak Inc. LifeSpeak is a leading software-as-a-service provider of a platform for mental health and total wellbeing education for organizations committed to taking care of their employees and customers. With 18+ years of experience creating and curating thousands of expert-led micro-learning videos and other digital content, LifeSpeak's proprietary library's depth and breadth of easily consumable content helps companies around the world support their people anytime and anywhere. LifeSpeak serves a diverse global client base across many industries and sectors, including Fortune 500 companies, government agencies, insurance providers, and other health technology firms. LifeSpeak is the parent company of Lift Digital Inc. ("LIFT session"), ALAViDA Health Ltd. ("ALAViDA"), Encompass Education Solutions ("Torchlight") and Wellbeats Inc. ('Wellbeats). To learn more, follow LifeSpeak on LinkedIn (, or visit Forward Looking Information This press release may include "forward-looking information" within the meaning of applicable securities laws. Such forward-looking information may include, but is not limited to, information with respect to our objectives and the strategies to achieve these objectives, as well as information with respect to our beliefs, plans, expectations, anticipations, estimates and intentions. In some cases, but not necessarily in all cases, forward-looking information can be identified by the use of forward-looking terminology and phrases such as "forecast", "target", "goal", "may", "might", "will", "could", "expect", "anticipate", "estimate", "intend", "plan", "indicate", "seek", "believe", "predict", or "likely", or the negative of these terms, or other similar expressions intended to identify forward-looking information, including references to assumptions. In addition, any statements that refer to expectations, intentions, projections or other characterizations of future events or circumstances contain forward-looking information. Statements containing forward-looking information are not historical facts nor guarantees or assurances of future performance but instead represent management's current beliefs, expectations, estimates and projections regarding possible future events, circumstances or performance. Forward-looking information is necessarily based on a number of opinions, estimates and assumptions that, while considered reasonable by LifeSpeak as of the date of this release, is subject to known and unknown risks, uncertainties, assumptions and other factors that may cause the actual results, level of activity, performance or achievements to be materially different from those expressed or implied by such forward-looking information. Important factors that could cause actual results to differ, possibly materially, from those indicated by the forward-looking information include, but are not limited to, the risk factors identified under "Risk Factors" in LifeSpeak's Annual Information Form, and in other periodic filings that LifeSpeak has made and may make in the future with the securities commissions or similar regulatory authorities in Canada, all of which are available under LifeSpeak 's SEDAR profile at These factors are not intended to represent a complete list of the factors that could affect LifeSpeak. However, such risk factors should be considered carefully. There can be no assurance that such estimates and assumptions will prove to be correct. You should not place undue reliance on forward-looking information, which speak only as of the date of this release. LifeSpeak undertakes no obligation to publicly update any forward-looking information, except as required by applicable securities laws. If you are an existing FSEAP customer and would like more information about LIFT Session through FSEAP, please contact your dedicated account manager. All other inquires, please contact us.

  • FSEAP Partners with MindBeacon as Digital Mental Health Provider

    TORONTO – March 1, 2021 - Today, Family Services Employee Assistance Program (FSEAP), Canadian-based employee assistance program (EAP) provider, is pleased to announce its new strategic partnership with MindBeacon, the leading comprehensive digital mental health provider in Canada. The new partnership has been formed to better support FSEAP business members, customer organizations and employees in offering a new tool to assist them with addressing mental health challenges during COVID-19 and beyond. By partnering with MindBeacon, FSEAP continues to grow its service offerings to better support customers in adapting to current market needs. MindBeacon offers internet-based Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (iCBT) through its Therapist Guided Program (TGP), allowing for an alternative counselling modality for clients and greater choice in how they access mental health support. “In the midst of COVID-19, we are finding more customer organizations asking for new tools to help support employees with the mental health challenges,” shares Joyce Zuk, Regional Director, Southwest Ontario at FSEAP. “Upon doing research into the iCBT products available, we found that MindBeacon was the best possible solution with strong clinical treatment options, high satisfaction scores, barrier removal through ease of access and exceptional service experience,” Zuk concluded. With MindBeacon, users work with a dedicated licensed therapist via secure text-based messaging, who understands their particular needs and creates a program that suits them best. The therapist creates a personalized set of readings and activities that will help users develop the skills needed to feel better. As they work through the program, MindBeacon’s therapists are always by their side – there to review progress, provide encouragement and new perspectives to consider. “We treat a number of different conditions from anxiety to stress, depression, PTSD and more at MindBeacon and after hearing FSEAPS’s need to offer a ful ly comprehensive digital mental health solution, we were thrilled to be able to support by making our services available to more people in need,” said Dr. Lori Ann Blessing, Ph.D., C. Psych., Clinical, Health and Rehabilitation Psychologist / Chief Clinical Officer at MindBeacon. “As added value and support, we also offer programs specifically designed for front-line workers to help ease their mental health challenges as they lead the way during the global pandemic,” Blessing added. As FSEAP has grown its telephonic and video-based counselling options as a result of the pandemic and the restriction on in-person treatment, iCBT allows another option for employees seeking mental health support in a virtual way, now, as well as post-pandemic. The move further supports FSEAP in helping business leaders ensure employee well-being and productivity are at their highest, while allowing MindBeacon to offer mental health support that’s designed with a user-first approach, improving access to therapy that's available anytime and anywhere. About FSEAP Founded in 1974, Family Services Employee Assistance Programs (FSEAP) is a national social enterprise division of Family Service Agencies providing employee and family assistance programs (EFAP) and Integrated Workplace Wellness Solutions. As the only national, not for profit, community-based EFAP provider in Canada, we strive to sustain healthy workplaces and strong communities. FSEAP's client centric services support customers large and small in every economic sector with evidence-based solutions that promote and maintain the health and well-being of employees and workplaces. About MindBeacon MindBeacon is developing a continuum of mental healthcare that includes self-guided psychoeducational and wellness content, Therapist Guided Programs and Live Therapy Sessions all offered virtually through their secure platform. As one of the first commercially available, digitally-native platforms to offer therapist-assisted internet-based Cognitive Behavioural Therapy in Canada, MindBeacon’s professional service is designed around end users – their health, their way. Working with employers, insurance carriers and government ministries, MindBeacon’s services are accessible, affordable and, most importantly, proven to be effective. MindBeacon is changing the therapy landscape by making professional care available to every Canadian, no matter when, where and how they choose to access it. If you are an existing FSEAP customer and would like more information about MindBeacon through FSEAP, please contact your dedicated account manager. All other inquires, please contact us.

  • Eradicating Mental Health Stigma

    With campaigns like Bell Let’s Talk gaining attention and momentum, mental health awareness is increasing and the harms of mental health stigma are now better understood. People across Canada are taking the time to learn, grow, and understand how to support their families, friends and colleagues, and to be honest about their own stories and need for support. But there’s more work to be done. It can be difficult enough living with a mental illness, but when you face the added pressure of stigma – people just not understanding - it can make seeking help for your illness even more difficult. While society has come a long way, stigma is still very much prevalent, and many people still face negative responses when they express, share, or seek help for their mental health challenges. Defining Stigma & It’s Effect Stigma against mental illness has several roots, such as personal, social, and family beliefs and fears, and from the mental health condition itself, which may cause a person to act outside what is considered the social or cultural norm. Stigma involves the negative or discriminatory attitudes that others have about mental illness. Facing stigma from others can often also lead to self-stigma, when these negative attitudes get internalized, creating self-doubt and shame.. Stigma usually stems from a lack of understanding rather than information based on facts, and the consequences of stigma can be serious and devastating. The worst consequence is that it can make it less likely that people will seek treatment. For many, some conditions may worsen over time without treatment, so failing to seek help will ultimately worsens one’s outcomes. Stigma can also cause people to doubt themselves and their abilities to achieve their goals in life. It can also lead to feelings of isolation, which can ultimately make it harder for people to find desired jobs, build relationships, and live a fulfilling life. What Can You Do? While stigma continues to exist, it can be eliminated with education and awareness about mental health & illness. Here are some things you can do: Educate Self. First thing is to remember that many people experience mental illness. If you have a mental illness, know that you are not alone. According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, one in five Canadians struggle with mental illness of some kind. Talk about it: Have conversations that seek first to understand the lived experience of someone with mental health issues. Perhaps start with, “I’ve noticed that you are not quite yourself. Would you like to talk about it?” Ask questions about what it’s like for them and how you can best support them. Be aware of your language: Words have meaning and reflect attitudes and beliefs. Be careful of the adjectives used to describe mental health. Be respectful in how you speak about individuals struggling with mental health issues. Find support. Whatever you do, stay connected to others and get support. If you are a friend or family member, it’s ok to need support and to talk about how you feel. If you are dealing with mental health concerns yourself, you may be reluctant to share it with others, however, it is highly encouraged to not isolate yourself. Reach out to people you trust for compassion, support and the understanding you need during this time. Organizations such Bell – Let’s Talk Campaign, and Calltime Mental Health, offer educational and supportive resources for people and families who are affected by mental illness. Access Services. There are many ways to seek help so that you can experience reduced symptoms and a better quality of life. Proper and timely treatment can provide relief by helping identify what’s wrong and reduce symptoms that may interfere with your everyday personal and work life. Speak out. Educate others around you about the realities of mental illness including how common it is and actively speak out against stigma. Discredit myths about mental illness. Feel confident in sharing your own experiences. Sharing stories and encouraging dialog can help instill courage in others who may be facing similar challenges to get the right treatment at the right time. Stigma is a complex issue that continues to have an impact, but there is hope, and change is happening. Everyone has a role in diffusing mental health stigma. Through research, education and understanding, we can eliminate the stigma around mental illness. Here are some resources to help: Bell Let's Talk 2022 Anti-Stigma Campaign Mental Health Information & Resources from the Government of Canada Mental Health 101 free online tutorials (CMHA) FSEAP, your EFAP Provider (contact us) Crisis Services Canada Hotline -- Canada: 1.833.456.4566

  • COVID-19 Update

    We hope that you are keeping well. In light of provincial announcements across the country about returning to work, organizations are now putting their minds towards planning a gradual return to work. During the sheltering at home phase of COVID-19, FSEAP was considered to be an essential service and has been able to continue providing much needed counselling by video and telephone during the last few months. As provincial governments start to give the green light to begin planning a return to the office, as well as to begin seeing clients face-to-face (with restrictions), FSEAP is putting together a plan as to how we will return to the office in a safe and reasonable way. We will keep you informed as to our plan going forward and how we will begin introducing in-person counselling once again. These plans will be informed by restrictions made in each province, and as a result the response may vary across the country. We are not alone in having mixed feelings about returning to the office to resume our work. Many of us are excited to return, even with specific restrictions in place, like keeping our distance, making sure we’re washing our hands, and keeping things disinfected; and, some of us are hesitant, worried about health concerns for families, or not yet feeling safe enough to return. FSEAP will continue to support clients with online and telephone counselling as staff and clients gradually return to our offices. Prior to our return to the office, we will be informing you about any restrictions or “rules” that clients may need to accept before meeting our counsellors face to face. We are also in conversation with our affiliate network to determine how they can begin to see clients safely as well. Please let employees know they can still request telephone or video counselling indefinitely if this helps them to continue to feel safe to access their EAP. We appreciate your patience and understanding as we, like you, navigate these uncertain times and plan for the safe return of our staff and clients. Please contact your dedicated account/EFAP program manager if you have questions or requests. If you aren’t a current customer of FSEAP and would like to learn more about how we can help, please contact us.

  • Remote Working During a Global Health Crisis - Ask an Expert

    Check out FSEAP’s very own Gregg Taylor from FSEAP Vancouver as he talks about employee mental health and well-being while working from home. Gregg highlights the concepts of grief relative to our experiences and disruptions as a result of COVID-19. Additionally, he talks about how a change in our normal routines, and the concept of working from home, are impacting our productivity at work. Lastly, some strategies for decompression and stress reduction are shared as well. Webinar Information This virtual panel hosted by the Work Wellness Institute describes the essentials of safe and healthy remote working during the current crisis. The panel is co-moderated by the Work Wellness Institute’s President and Chief Executive Officer Cameron Stockdale and includes experts in mental health, ergonomics, employer legal standards, and occupational therapy. These experts speak to the changes required in workplaces due to the global health crisis and answer your questions about navigating this new context. Workplaces in all sectors are facing the impact of the pandemic, leaving many with questions about evolving work environments. Many of these questions are addressed by our panelists, and strategies and solutions are provided. Topics include: Personal well-being and mental health; Employer responsibilities and employee rights; Work-life balance in remote working environments; Maintaining productivity and working relationships. Webinar Resources: Managing the Stress of COVID-19 (Handouts) Employer & Employee Remote Work (Checklist) How to Talk with an Employee or Colleague about their Mental Health (Article) Ergonomics Tips for Working from Home (Tip sheet)

  • Leading your Team through COVID-19

    COVID-19 has impacted us on an individual, social and global level. Organizations and businesses have also been impacted and have not been able to sidestep “change”. Some organizations will have to contend with disastrous negative consequences, the minority might even see positive results, and some will sit in between. However, all leaders of teams, in any context, will have to lead and assist their employees who are not only emotionally impacted by change in their personal lives, which may show up at work, but also by organizational change. Be a Change Agent As a manager or supervisor, you are the “Change Agent”, the person who acts as a catalyst and assumes the responsibility for managing change. Your role is even more important in light of the continually advancing changes that COVID-19 brings with it. Employees will have varying reactions to change; however, it would be reasonable to say that this time in particular is an especially emotionally unsettling time for employees. The following strategies will assist in leading employees through this difficult time, but heed the advice yourself as well if needed. The Cycle of Change William Bridges, a change management consultant and author, developed a model which focuses on transition, not change. The distinction is this: change is something that happens TO people and can happen very quickly; whereas transition is INTERNAL to the person and can take longer for the person to adjust depending on a number of variables. The three-phase model includes stage 1 - “Endings”, stage 2 - “Neutral Zone”, and stage 3 - “New Beginnings”. Ending, Losing and Letting Go Endings are where we disengage from the old. It involves: loss, grief, shock, numbness, denial, anger, hurt, unease, resistance, blaming, complaining, feeling sick, doubt, and stress. You can support your employees by: Giving them the time and space to come to terms with the situation and its repercussions for them. Being transparent and providing as much information as possible on a regular basis that reinforces why the change is important (in reaction to external change). Encouraging questions and ensuring there are plenty of avenues for issues, feelings and concerns to be discussed. Neutral Zone The Neutral Zone is where we have come to terms with the notion that change is occurring but we have yet to connect fully, or understand the new normal. It involves feelings of: indecision, chaos, unknown, anxiety, fear, and, confusion. You can support your employees by: Providing as much information as possible on a regular basis. Keeping them focused on short-term objectives and goals, while at the same time helping them to see the bigger picture. Quickly addressing rumours. Keeping them up to speed with time frames for when and how the change will take place. Involving them as much as they want to be involved and can be involved. New Beginnings New Beginnings is where we begin to understand and connect to the new. It involves energy, creativeness, renewed purpose, renewed direction, growth, and cooperation. You can support your employees by: Rewarding and reinforcing their successes. Reviewing and reflecting on strengths and skills they demonstrated through the change process. Analyzing the change process and highlighting strategies for further change. General Communication Tips to Help your Employees Deal with Crisis Be human and transparent that you too have similar feelings (“we are all in this together”). Normalize that a range of emotions in the change process is to be expected. Listen and understand the emotion presented in the moment (as the presented emotion is not always what the true emotion is at a deeper internal level). Encourage the employee to discuss their true feelings and what might be triggering them. Communicate directly, honestly and calmly. Don’t ask an employee to snap out of it or pull themselves together. Denying their feelings may only drive them deeper into negative feelings. Help the individual to find ways to manage their feelings to organize their thinking patterns. People with an unbalanced emotional state have trouble processing and analyzing thoughts/feelings. Encourage and model self-care. Suggest proactive stress management techniques as well: a dedicated time to talk about issues at team meetings and remind the group that you want everyone to feel “safe” in sharing their feelings; or begin team meetings with a deep breathing technique. Encourage employees to reach out for individual counselling support. Distribute EAP brochures and phone numbers for easy access. Additional Strategies for Leaders Remind your employees to stay away from an overload of social media, to be wary of “fake news”, and offer resources which are credible. Disseminate information to all stakeholders on a consistent basis and be transparent in your message. Gene Klann, author of the book “Crisis Leadership” suggests the “3Rs: Review, repeat, reinforce”. Stay assertive, grounded, and time directed, to have others follow your example. Don’t let people get lost in the negative and stay positive. Be visible and available, show genuine concern for people, and appeal to employees’ sense of principles and morality which are important to them as individuals, i.e., courage, community, etc. Be willing to access support for yourself if you need it. Being in a leadership role can be onerous and it is easy to overlook how you are feeling when you are focused on others. Your employees need you physically and emotionally well, and self-care is equally important for leaders as well. Your employee and family assistance program is available 24/7 to provide professional support. Connect with us. We're here to help.

  • Supporting Employee Mental and Psychological Well-being During COVID-19

    Healthcare workers and first responders experience unique challenges during episodes of disease outbreak and pandemic. Long shifts, infrequent breaks, societal pressure, new policies and procedures, decreased socialization, increased stigma, and fear of becoming ill, can all have an impact on one's ability to cope. These challenges can increase stress and anxiety. Here are a number of considerations that can support the mental health and well-being of healthcare providers and first responders. Employees Feeling stressed during times like these is normal. Make stress management and your mental well-being a priority. Use work breaks to rest. Take as much time to rest between shifts as possible. Look after your physical well-being. Maintain healthy eating and exercise patterns to boost immunity and resilience. Use stress reduction strategies which have been helpful in the past. Avoid unhelpful coping strategies such as tobacco, alcohol, drugs, as these can negatively impact sleep and mental health. Stay connected with family and friends. Consider using digital communication and connection to maintain safety and reduce fear in others. Connecting and talking with a colleague, manager, or other supportive people in your life is key to personal mental health care. If connecting with a colleague or family member isn’t enough, seeking assistance from a professional can help. Leadership This is a marathon, not a sprint. Protecting staff from chronic stress means they will have better capacity and focus to fulfill their role long-term. Encourage and initiate employee work breaks and healthy wellness practices. Keep employees informed by ensuring they received regular quality, accurate communication. Rotate staff from high-stress positions to lower-stress positions to reduce chronic exposure to high-stress situations. Partner inexperienced workers with colleagues that are more experienced and reduce isolation and risk for outreach workers by having them work in pairs. A buddy-system provides an opportunity for support, monitoring stress, and reinforcing compliance with safety requirements. Implement flexible work schedules or allow work from home for those experiencing increased stress due to having close family or friends considered at-risk with COVID-19. Remind employees of the mental health and psychosocial supports available to them. Your employee and family assistance program is available 24/7 to provide professional support. Connect with us. We're here to help. Adapted from World Health Organization—Mental health and Psychosocial Considerations during the COVID-19 outbreak

  • Supporting Healthcare Workers and First Responders During COVID-19

    Resources for Healthcare Leadership Healthcare workers and first responders experience unique challenges during episodes of disease outbreak and pandemic. Long shifts, infrequent breaks, societal pressure, new policies and procedures, decreased socialization, and fear of becoming ill, can all have an impact on one's ability to cope. These challenges can increase stress and anxiety if employees and leaders are not mindful of their mental health and well-being. Sustaining the Well-being of Healthcare Personnel During Coronavirus and Other Infectious Disease Outbreaks This resource outlines the challenges facing healthcare personnel during infectious disease outbreaks and strategies for sustaining healthcare personnel well-being. Source: Uniformed Services University Centre for the Study of Traumatic Stress Supporting the Psychosocial Well-being of Healthcare Providers During the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic This document by the BC Centre for Disease Control outlines the components of psychosocial support responses and psychosocial interventions that enhance Healthcare workers’ coping and personal resiliency. Source: BC Centre for Disease Control Mental Health Considerations During COVID-19 Outbreak In this resource, the World Health Organization outlines the mental health considerations for various groups, including the general population, healthcare workers, team leaders in health facilities, caretakers of children, caretakers for older adults, and people in isolation. Source: World Health Organization Managing Healthcare Workers’ Stress Associated with the COVID-19 Virus Outbreak This document outlines strategies for assisting healthcare workers in fighting stress through preparedness, identification of specific areas of stress for healthcare workers treating patients with the COVID-19 virus, and identification of self-care strategies for dealing with stress both during and after the outbreak. Source: National Center for PTSD Roles and Responsibilities of Healthcare Workers: Considerations for OHS This resource by the World Health Organization provides guidance around the rights, roles, and responsibilities of healthcare facilities, leaders, and workers to protect occupational health and safety during the COVID-19 pandemic. Source: World Health Organization Emergency Responders: Tips for Taking Care of Yourself This resource by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention outlines tips to assist emergency responders in taking care of themselves, including preparing for a response, understanding and identifying burnout and secondary traumatic stress, getting support from team members, self-care strategies, and resources for family members and co-workers. Source: Center for Disease Control and Prevention Preventing and Managing Stress – Tips for Disaster Responders This tip sheet outlines tips for preventing and managing stress before, during and after disaster response assignments. Source: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services – US Department of Human and Health Services FSEAP remains committed to providing the highest quality of service to customer organizations and employees across the country. Please contact your dedicated account/EFAP program manager if you have questions or requests, and direct employees to call or access myfseap for support. If you aren’t a current customer of FSEAP and would like to learn more about how we can help, please contact us.

  • How to talk with an employee or colleague about their mental health

    Deciding to talk with someone out of concern for their mental health, especially an employee or colleagues, may feel daunting. You may wonder what's appropriate to say, whether you will come across as judgmental, or fear that you will 'get it wrong' or misinterpret what you are seeing. The reality is that if someone is struggling with personal distress or mental health concerns, open non-judgmental communication and connecting is what they need most - as no amount of hiding will help them feel better or deal with their challenges effectively. At some point, it’s much better to deal with a suspected problem directly and offer what may be much needed help or support. Everyone needs help sometimes. Below are a number of tips and strategies for recognizing when an employee or colleague might need a helping hand, and describes how to reach out in a way that is respectful and supportive. Here are a few signs that things may not be going well for an employee or colleague: arriving late for work more often than not (or not checking in regularly if working remotely) frequently calling in sick making up excuses for overreacting or becoming more angry than the circumstance warrants not remembering what to do or not being able to concentrate making excessive mistakes - or performing inconsistently or below normal levels shifting unexpectedly from easy-going to grouchy; becoming difficult to be around, snapping at colleagues for no reason avoiding responsibility, or refusing to take responsibility avoiding socializing and withdrawing from normal conversation showing up at work with signs fatigue or exhaustion The iceberg analogy - behaviours seen, underlying causes unseen. Knowing when and how to help. So, what do you do when you think someone might need a helping hand and you’re willing to offer them yours? Before you do anything, first check in with yourself. Is this the best time for you to have this conversation? Are you feeling calm enough, well enough, strong enough? If you are, great! If not, take a moment to get grounded yourself so you can focus on the other person in the moment. Be prepared for a variety of responses. They might be open to talking to you, or may become emotional or even respond with anger or defensiveness, not ready to hear what you have to say. They might be offended and suggest you've made a mistake, or tell you to mind your own business. Whatever their response, it’s important that you know and maintain your own boundaries, and respect the other person’s willingness or unwillingness to accept your support. You are simply trying to state what you’re observing, and offering support in response. Follow these five steps to lend a helping hand: Ask if your employee/colleague is willing to chat with you. Find a quiet space that’s private for this conversation, or ensure there is privacy (on both ends) of a phone or video call. Focus the discussion on what you’ve noticed - changes in behaviour, appearance, performance, or attitude - and share your concern for their well-being. Leave room for a response and listen to them without judgment. This is crucial, and will go a long way to inviting openness and sharing. (If they aren't ready or willing to talk, remind them that you are there to talk and listen any time.) Ask them what they need and how you can help. Reassure them that you will respect confidentiality. Depending on the issues that surface, suggest they access appropriate professional support, and remind/inform them of any available services such as their EAP, extended health benefits, or other community health services. If they are reluctant to call or reach out on their own, suggest you make the initial call together. Remember, you're not there to diagnose the problem. It’s not on you to diagnose any issue, or provide counselling. You are offering a helping hand to someone you’re concerned about, suggesting suitable help, and fulfilling your mandate as a manager which is to: ensure the psychological health & safety of your employee or colleague confirm that their well-being is appropriately supported verifying that they can continue to work safely and taking appropriate action to address any issues related to poor performance and the well-being of the overall team. While you should always emphasize that sharing personal information is voluntary, and that a person can maintain their privacy, as a manager you may need to establish a performance management plan if changes in workplace behaviour have become an issue of concern. Giving and receiving help. Remember, it's completely reasonable for you to ask for support before, during, and after this process as well. Consult with your manager, an appropriate leader, HR staff, or your EAP, for guidance and feedback on your approach. Author: Gregg Taylor is Regional Director of Family Services Employee Assistance Programs (fseap). Gregg is a Registered Clinical Counsellor and Chartered Professional in Human Resources (CPHR) and is a leader in the workplace mental health and wellness field. His specializations include Psychological Health & Safety in the Workplace, Wellness programs based on the principles of 'Workplace Psychological Wellness and Mental Fitness', and evidence-based positive psychology practices that contribute to healthy and effective workplaces.

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