Why conduct the survey now?
It’s worth starting by acknowledging the reality of campus life this fall: People are hurting. From budget constraints to the loss of childcare to fears of a deadly virus, there are countless sources of stress for faculty and staff at every level of the university.
Given the collective state of anxiety, it is more important now than ever for our organization to listen to its community. Therefore, the Gallup Engagement Survey will launch in October for UNT World. This fall’s survey will not be an exercise in accruing points or competing for better internal scores. The inquiry should be intended to provide a voice to the frontline workers fulfilling UNT World’s mission to serve its students and the surrounding communities amid historic turbulence.
Refraining from a fall survey may itself be a costly detriment to engagement. The UNT World vision states their goal is bringing out the full potential of those we serve.
It is time to live out these promises by asking campus employees about their wellbeing, especially at a time when many feel muted.
Core reasons to launch a fall engagement survey include:
Will our institutions be able to address every employee concern? Of course not, but that’s the case with any survey. Our leadership can, however, acknowledge all of the extra work that faculty and staff are performing, making sure that employees feel their opinions are contributing to major decisions, and by crafting clear and helpful communications. Thus, showing that faculty and staff feedback is critical even during times of uncertainty and stress.
Suicide prevention is important all year round and the focus for September is Suicide Awareness Month. What is Suicide?
Suicide is a death caused by self-directed injurious behavior with any intent to die as a result of the behavior. Suicide attempt is defined as a non-fatal self-directed and potentially injurious behavior with any intent to die as a result of the behavior. A suicide attempt may or may not result in injury. Nationally, the suicide rate increased 25.4% from 1999 to 2016, with increases occurring in almost every state. Suicide claimed the lives of 48,000 people in the US resulting one death every 11 minutes by 2018. It is the second leading cause of death by age group from 10 to 34, according to the CDC. There is a multitude of approaches when it comes to preventing suicide and you play an important role because prevention is a comprehensive approach when it comes to decreasing the risk for suicidal thoughts and behaviors.
Suicide is preventable and a large growing health problem with lasting effects on individuals, families and communities. Usually family and friends that are the first ones to see the warning signs and these changes in behavior may or may not include health issues related to mental illness. These behavior changes could stem from a death of a loved one, been bullied or from abuse over time or as a child that comes out years later.
The associated risk factors like depression, anxiety, relationships or financial problems affect everyone regardless of age, gender or background with no single determining causes and have some common warning signs:
Has trouble eating or sleeping
Talks about committing suicide
Exhibits drastic changes in behavior
Withdraws from friends or social activities
Loses interest in school, work or hobbies
Prepares for death by writing a will and making final arrangements
Gives away prized possessions Has attempted suicide before
Takes unnecessary risks Has recently experienced serious losses
Seems preoccupied with death and dying
Loses interest in his or her personal appearance Increases alcohol or drug use.
Knowing the signs and taking action with five steps to help someone who is emotionally distressed could save a life. ASK: “Are you thinking about killing yourself?” It’s not an easy question but studies show that asking at-risk individuals if they are suicidal does not increase suicides or suicidal thoughts. KEEP THEM SAFE: Reducing a suicidal person’s access to highly lethal items or places is an important part of suicide prevention. While this is not always easy, asking if the at-risk person has a plan and removing or disabling the lethal means can make a difference. BE THERE: Listen carefully and learn what the individual is thinking and feeling. Research suggests acknowledging and talking about suicide may in fact reduce rather than increase suicidal thoughts. HELP THEM CONNECT: Save the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline’s number in your phone so it’s there when you need it: 1-800-273-TALK (8255). You can also help make a connection with a trusted individual like a family member, friend, spiritual advisor, or mental health professional. STAY CONNECTED: Staying in touch after a crisis or after being discharged from care can make a difference.
Studies have shown the number of suicide deaths goes down when someone follows up with the at-risk person. We care about your well-being and it is our hope that you take advantage of all the free resources available in managing your family’s health. BlueCross BlueShield of Texas will begin managing your mental health and substance use benefits for HealthSelect participants, replacing Magellan Healthcare. With this transition, your benefit deductibles, copays and coinsurance will not change. If you have any questions about these services or need assistance finding a provider, reach out to your BCBSTX Personal Health Assistant at 800-252-8039, Monday – Friday 7 a.m. – 7 p.m. and Saturday, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., CT. Too sick to drive? Get quick medical and mental health services on the web or download the app With DrOnDemand, you have 24/7 access to a health care provider for non-emergency care with no cost for HealthSelect participants. Visit MDLive for a virtual visit with a Mental Health professional for a low cost of $25 copay for HealthSelect members. Employees enrolled in the Consumer Directed Health plan, you are subjected to deductible and coinsurance cost. Need help managing a work life balance, which may affect your personal well-being? Contact your Employee Assistance Program for help services related to: Stress Management or Grief and Bereavement counseling and Managing Depression and Anxiety. Check out what’s happening In the Green for the latest webinar or information session for your physical, interpersonal and financial wellbeing needs. Coming soon: Want to learn more about Suicide Prevention join the September 22, webinar led by UNT Assistant Director and Counselor Arlene Rivero-Carr, to learn how to recognize the signs and learn what to do or say to someone who might be at risk for suicide.
Resources: To learn more about the strategies of Suicide Prevention check out these English or Spanish videos and the CDC’s Comprehensive Public Health video approach including how to stay safe and find treatment.
Race for Hope a 5k sponsored by Denton County Loss Team Running Club for individuals impacted by a suicide of a loved one on Friday, September 25. Register here The Warm Place – provides year round grief support for children ages 3 ½ to 18 and their families, as well as young adults who have experienced the death of a loved one FREE of charge in the FW area.
UNT Denton: COUNSELING AND TESTING SERVICES 940-565-2741
UNT CARE TEAM https://studentaffairs.unt.edu/care/ (940) 565-2648
UNT POLICE (940) 565-3000 Denton County MHMR /Psychiatric Triage Center (800) 762-0157
(940) 381-9965 MetroCare Services (Dallas County)
(214) 743-1200 DFW North Texas Behavioral Health Authority: Crisis Text Line: Please text HOME to 741741 from your mobile device Suicide and Crisis Center of North Texas: 214-828-1000
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255 24/7/365 Crisis Hotline: Call 775-784-8090 or Text ANSWER to 839863
Child and Family Guidance support: Call 214-351-3490 or visit Child and Family Guidance Center (resources available in Spanish)
COVID-19 Mental Health Support Line call (833) 251-7544 or visit NTBHA.org
Texas Health and Human Services: COVID-19 Mental Health Support Line call (833) 986-1919
Focusing on well-being this fall means taking care of yourself financially as well. Check out the free webinars hosted by our vendors (AIG, Fidelity, TIAA and Voya) via the In the Green portal. These aren’t sales pitches, so don’t worry. However, all of these vendors do offer a free financial advisement meeting if you are an UNT World employee (register in Netbenefits portal and click on “Meet with Us”), if you’re interested. And their webinars are a great way to benefit from their financial expertise. Additionally, the well-being events calendar includes webinars from ERS and TRS AND videos on demand from many free financial resources that offer financial counseling, debt management advice, credit counseling and much more.
Are you experiencing financial strain or distress? Your Employee Assistance Program (EAP) benefits also include financial counseling (free). You can also get free counseling via the EAP for anxiety and stress when they are impacting your wellbeing. Many employees don’t realize they have these benefits available to them at no cost.
And, your health insurance also includes mental health benefits. Difficult times take an emotional toll, and financial worries and crises are hard to handle on your own. Seeking help is a sign of wellness. When you need support, your EAP benefits are there for you as a free resource, and you also have care options with your health insurance for benefits like virtual counseling.
Community resources are available in times of financial strain and stress
Financial concerns are impacting many of us during this time across our UNT World community. Besides making use of your UNT World-provided benefits, there are excellent resources available in your community. They are there to help. And, if you don’t need them for yourself at this time, pass this information along, or consider volunteering. Share and care!
In Tarrant County, Tarrant Cares is an excellent resource; their site will connect you to many services, including those for veterans, victims of domestic violence, and assistance for disabled adults, to name a few.
In Dallas, CitySquare has partnered with United Way to provide financial help to people who need help paying the rent, mortgage, or utilities. They also offer a host of other community resources.
Have you heard of 211.org? The 211 is an excellent service information source for all community non-profit resources – search by zip code to find help where you live.
Work-life balance is a concept that may seem elusive during a global pandemic that has us homeschooling our kids, socially distancing, cooking more at home, and managing relationships with people we can’t see in person. Despite the many challenges in our current environment, there are things within our control that can help us to maintain a semblance of “normal” and to create balance between work and life with these resources.
Join NBC5 anchors for weekly community conversations about change related to mental health and economic and health care disparities. Among the topics, a new educational course will be offered this fall on African-American culture.
Click here for more information.
Distractions are everywhere. Stay alert with these tips on pedestrian safety by following the rules of the road for walkers and drivers as school is reopening. Watch your speed in school zones, watch out for bicycles and talk to your teen drivers. Learn more about safety tips and resources with the following:
While we all know that exercising is important for building endurance and losing weight, you also need to know the signs of when an exercise break is needed to avoid over training or burn out. Learn more about the warning signs, how long of a break is needed and how to incorporate other fun activities to return to a stronger you!
While most of us are ready for social distancing to end, we may have a long way to go before that happens. So why not take advantage of this time to reevaluate spending habits and find ways to cut costs? Here are some ideas: