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Survey links employees with mental health resources

May. 21, 2020, 9:03 AM


by Kelsey Herbers

In alignment with May being Mental Health Awareness Month, Vanderbilt Behavioral Health and the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences are offering employees an additional way to receive support for their mental health.

Vanderbilt University Medical Center employees who are experiencing difficulties in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic are invited to request short-term individual cognitive behavioral therapy, evaluation for potential medication needs and peer support through a new online COVID Coping survey.

This new resource is in addition to services routinely offered to employees through the Work/Life Connections Employee Assistance Program (EAP).

Services offered through the COVID Coping survey are open to all employees, including residents and fellows, and any family members who are insured through the VUMC health plan. Individual services are covered by insurance, and peer support groups will not be billed. All services are delivered via telehealth.

Survey responses are reviewed daily, and individual therapy and medication sessions can typically be scheduled within 10 days.

The goal of the survey is to reduce barriers to accessing support and to make it easier for colleagues to connect with existing resources.

“I think one of the biggest challenges people are facing right now is determining what’s a normal reaction to an abnormal situation and what’s an indicator that this may be a problem that could benefit from additional help,” said Meg Benningfield, MD, associate professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences.

“Our Psychiatry and Behavioral Health teams wanted to support VUMC employees in anticipation of this being a stressful time and knowing people are being stretched in new and different ways.”

The teams are also offering parenting groups focused on how to talk about the pandemic with children, how to help children cope with uncertainty and social distancing, and how to manage stressors such as homeschooling.

They hope this new resource will serve as a reminder about the importance of pausing to assess one’s emotional and physical health.

“We know that if we don’t take care of ourselves it can impact our ability to take care of others,” said Benningfield. “As health professionals, we have the same vulnerabilities — and sometimes increased vulnerabilities — to illness. Being able to reach out for help takes courage, and we’re hopeful this can offer one additional way for people to get the support they need to stay healthy as we continue addressing the pandemic.”

The survey can be accessed at

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