The College of Charleston offers many resources for faculty and staff to be the best they can be – and that means supporting their mental health and emotional wellbeing, too!
Between the resources provided by the Deer Oaks Employee Assistance Program (EAP), LinkedIn Learning, Therapy Assistance Online (TAO) and the various State Health Plan programs, faculty and staff have plenty of options for finding the support they need.
“Before we can care for our students, our colleagues, our children and loved ones, we have to care for ourselves – that’s why we think it is so important to create opportunities for our employees to have open and honest conversations about the unique stresses and struggles that we all go through from time to time – especially now as we try to balance so many new responsibilities,” says Ed Pope, the College’s vice president of human resources. “We hope that our staff and faculty will take full advantage of these resources.”
Below are some of the programs and resources available to College of Charleston faculty and staff.
“As always, if there is anything else we can do for you, please reach out to the human resources department,” says Pope. “We are here to help.”
The newest resource for College of Charleston employees is through the BlueCross Blue Shield of South Carolina (BCBS) State Health Plan. Meru Health offers State Health Plan primary members a free, evidence-based, 12-week program to reduce anxiety, stress, depression and burnout.
This personalized mental health program is built around continuous support from a dedicated therapist. In contrast to conventional therapy, a care team of licensed and experienced therapists and psychiatrists monitors participants daily to support them where they need it most. Members first receive a video call with their licensed therapist, followed by daily text-based support. They may get a referral to a psychiatrist if needed to provide medication oversight and provide recommendations and coordination with their primary care physician upon request. They will also receive a wearable biofeedback monitor (a $170 retail value at no cost) to track and improve their physical response to stress so they can feel calmer, faster. In addition, members learn meditation practices and habit-changing activities for sleep and nutrition. They’ll also have access to an anonymous peer support groups for encouragement, reminding them that they’re not alone; the group gathers over a specific topic, providing the opportunity to share their experiences and learn from others to feel more connected.
The program is divided into weekly themes focusing on tackling mental health challenges with multiple approaches and building habits to prevent relapses. Themes include the negativity bias, mood and motivation, worries and thinking traps, self-compassion, the food-mood connection, exploring values and boundaries and relationships.
Within just a few weeks of starting the program, participants can expect empowering improvements, including better energy and productivity, improved patience and relationships, more pleasure in normal activities and feeling more present and increased feelings of joy, happiness, calmness and contentment.
Everything is 100% confidential, and participants will have lifetime access to in-app resources after completing the program.
To access Meru Health, log onto the BCBS My Health Toolkit, and click on Behavioral Health Digital Programs under the Wellness tab.
Another program offered through the State Health Plan is NOCD, which helps people with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). NOCD’s program includes video-based OCD therapy and in-between session support, right from the NOCD smartphone app. The program is available with the BCBS State Health Plan copay or deductible.
Therapists are trained to appropriately treat OCD for all life stages from childhood through adulthood, using exposure and response therapy — the most effective OCD treatment. NOCD creates a custom treatment plan based on one’s OCD themes and subtypes. Participants have access to peer communities, emergency support, treatment data and educational content.
To get started, visit the NOCD website or log onto the BCBS My Health Toolkit, and click on Behavioral Health Digital Programs under the Wellness tab.
Companion Benefit Alternatives (CBA)
In addition to the above two programs, State Health Plan members have access to Companion Benefit Alternatives, which not only administers the mental health and substance abuse benefits of the health plan, but provides tools and information to help keep life on course. With experts in chronic conditions such as ADHD, anxiety, bipolar disorder, depression and even opioid addiction, CBA helps navigate the behavioral health care system, finding the psychiatrist, psychologist, psychiatric nurse, social worker or counselor right for its members. Assessments, education, coaches and scheduling are available on the CBA care management member portal.
To access the portal, log onto the BCBS My Health Toolkit, and click on Behavioral Health under the Health section of the Benefits tab.
TAO (Therapy Assistance Online)
Free to faculty, staff and students, TAO is a digital platform for therapy assistance that provides tools to help users understand and change their thought patterns.
Although TAO can be used as a supplement to therapy, it can also be used as a self-guided resource with personalized educational modules, assessments, interactive AI tools, a mindfulness library and practice logs and journals. Users can explore whatever topics they need, including how to calm their worries, how to let go, how to improve mood, how to heal after a breakup and much, much more.
To access TAO, use your CofC email address to register and follow the instructions to log in.
The LinkedIn Learning online educational platform gives employees free access to thousands of expert-led videos on hundreds of topics, including mental health training and workshops. From staying positive and overcoming overthinking to moving forward without stress and mindful meditation: There is always something to learn on LinkedIn Learning.
To explore the mental health modules in LinkedIn Learning, log into Cougar Ed (Absorb) using your College credentials, navigate to the Catalog tile and click on Personal Development.
Deer Oaks Employee Assistance Program
The College’s employee assistance program, Deer Oaks, provides a variety of mental health services, including workshops and training, assessments, self-help, counseling, consultation and referrals. These services are completely confidential and can be easily accessed 24/7, offering around-the-clock assistance for all of life’s challenges.
All CofC employees and their dependents, spouses and roommates are eligible for five free counseling sessions a year. Counseling sessions are available via telephone, video and in-person visits to local provider offices. The team provides referrals to local community resources, member health plans, support groups, legal resources and child/elder care/daily living resources. In addition, Deer Oaks’ AWARE Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) Program provides one-on-one support and self-guided practices that teach participants how to be engaged, diminish distractions and counteract stress over the course of six weekly sessions.
RELATED: Find out what else the Deer Oaks EAP can do for you.
To explore Deer Oaks’ online resources, log onto the Deer Oaks EAP website using the username cofc and password cofc. You will see tabs for personal growth, addiction and recovery, relationships and mental health. Click on Mental Health for hundreds of articles, audio, online seminars, videos and resources.
Access the EAP 24/7 through the iConnectYou app (see information below), at 866.327.2400 or through the online instant messaging system (log into Deer Oaks and click on Live Connect Online).
iConnectYou is an app that connects members with experts for instant support and individual counseling and appointments and provides self-help resources, including articles on topics such as flexible thinking, practicing gratitude and handling bullying. And, as part of the Deer Oaks EAP, it also allows employees to access EAP resources at all times: Calls and messages are answered 24 hours a day, every day of the year.
To access iConnectYou, download the app from the App Store (iPhone) or Google Play (Android) and register using the iCY passcode 110570.
Deer Oaks On-Demand Webinars
The College’s employee assistance program, Deer Oaks, offers one or two new on-demand webinars every month, with past webinars archived back to 2018. While there are many topics covered – from elder care to financial strategies – the majority of these webinars have to do with some aspect of mental health. Past sessions include Creating Hope, Navigating Grief, Tackling Loneliness and Sleep Essentials.
The next webinars are International Women’s Day, available March 8, and Set Boundaries and Boost Your Wellbeing, available March 21. Other upcoming sessions including everything from Overcoming Parental Guilt (June 18) to Pause.Breathe.Resume (Oct. 17).
For a full schedule of upcoming online seminars, as well as access to the archives, first log onto the Deer Oaks EAP website using the username cofc and password cofc, click the + sign on the Online Seminars tile and then click View All.
Community Online Academy (COA)
Another option made possible through the Deer Oaks EAP is the Community Online Academy, featuring live and on-demand classes on leadership, personal development, meditation, stress relief and other mental health topics.
To access COA, visit the Perks at Work website and click the COA button on the top lefthand side of the screen. If you’re not already a Perks at Work member, first log into Deer Oaks website using the username cofc and password cofc, then click on Savings Center under the Centers tab. From there, follow the directions to register for the Perks at Work access.
For information about these and other mental health resources, visit the Office of Human Resources’s Life Balance and Wellness and Employee Mental Health Resources pages, where you can also find recorded live workshops from the Deer Oaks EAP, including Dealing with Anxiety in the Midst of Stressful Circumstances, Managing the Stress of Change, Preventing and Overcoming Burnout, Handling Difficult Conversations and Living a Mentally Healthy Life in the 21st Century.