Campus Life

EFAP means more help for families

It's got a new name, a new provider and a new list of available services, but the focus of the University's assistance program remains the same – to enhance the wellness of U of L staff and faculty.

Now dubbed the Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP), the service is available through Human Solutions, an off-campus company that specializes in providing employee assistance and work-health solutions. It means greater access to a broader scope of assistance mechanisms while maintaining the personal and confidential nature that staff and faculty have grown to trust.

"It gives all employees access to help on a 24-hour basis, which is something we never had before," says Barb Thomsen, co-ordinator of pension and benefits. "Whether it be online, through a telephone call or a face-to-face session, our employees will always be able to access help if they need it."

Initially, Human Solutions was looked at as a complementary service to be added to that already provided by Michele Guenter, the U of L's in-house counsellor. When she accepted a position in B.C., following her husband to the west coast, Human Solutions was brought in as the sole provider.

"There was no intent for Michele not to be here," says Thomsen. "We were planning on adding this to Michele's services because her workload was so high as it was, it was difficult for people to get in to see her."

By contracting to Human Solutions, the EFAP offers access to a wider variety of counselling solutions, far more than one person was able to supply in the past.

"There are any number of counsellors available on any different topic," says Suzanne McIntosh, the University's wellness co-ordinator. "It's not just stress or mental health issues that we're talking about. Employees can discuss issues such as financial health, pre-retirement planning and even have access to a series of online parenting sessions."

For staff and faculty who travel out of country, Human Solutions offers an international phone number that can be dialed collect 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Staff, faculty and their families are eligible to receive 12 sessions per participant in each benefit year.

As Thomsen and McIntosh roll out the new service, they are using the opportunity to encourage staff and faculty to look at counselling in a new light.

"You almost have to take the word counselling out of the whole mix," says Thomsen, who sees it more as another support mechanism. "Really, you're just going to go talk with someone. If you look at it that way, it's just a case of somebody helping you or assisting you to look at an issue in different ways."

In that manner, Human Solutions is a valuable resource, says McIntosh.

"Many people don't want to take that step to make an appointment to go and talk with someone, they might feel they are already admitting to a problem," she says. "With this service, just having the opportunity to get more information about a topic might be enough. It doesn't have to always end up as a counselling session and this service allows for that."

They encourage employees to talk to Human Solutions representatives at the Oct. 26 Life Balance Fair in the 1st Choice Savings Centre, or to call 1-800-663-1142 to access help.


• In addition to services provided under the former Employee Assistance Program, the new EFAP provides counselling on single parenting, aging parents, gambling, financial issues and more.

• Family member appointments are available.

• No records are kept at or are accessible by the University of Lethbridge. Confidentiality is strictly maintained.

• For more information on the EFAP, contact Barb Thomsen at 403-329-2379.

This story first appeared in the October issue of the Legend. To view the full issue in a flipbook format, follow this link.