PENN Friends offers 'round-the-clock support to staff

You're a supervisor with a clinically depressed staff member. Not only do you have to decide how best to interact with the employee, but the rest of your staff needs education about appropriate responses to such behavior.

Or, you've noticed your casual drinking has taken a turn toward excess and your job could be on the line if you continue the substance abuse.

Maybe something great just happened, like your marriage or a job promotion, but it means drastic changes in the way you run your life.

In these and other cases, you're going to need help. And through a new partnership between Penn's Health System and Friends Hospital, help is offered 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

More importantly, the services are available at more than 400 locations throughout the Delaware Valley, free to benefits-eligible faculty and staff.

Employee Assistance Program Account Manager and counselor José Rendón said many employees have been taking advantage of the increased availability of services since they were introduced in September.

"We've really had a substantial increase in the number of people that have used the services, without even advertising them," Rendón said. "Just through word-of-mouth, we've received a huge influx of people."

Whether confronting problems that affect professional or personal lives, faculty and staff are encouraged to call PENN Friends early on, before the problems become unmanageable, Rendón said.

Counseling can involve issues such as anxiety, burnout, interpersonal conflicts, relationship changes and loss.

Six visits with a counselor are covered by the university; beyond that, PENN Friends will work with staff and faculty to coordinate an arrangement that works for them and their health plan. In the future, PENN Friends will also be sponsoring workshops and training seminars.

For more information on programs, or to arrange to speak with a counselor, call 1-888-321-4433.

Penn's Worklife Programs

In addition to the counseling offered through PENN Friends, staff and faculty members have a number of services at their disposal for help with personal issues. Through the Division of Human Resources, Penn's Worklife Programs offer support for the following:

  • When you need good child care: Child Care Choices, resource and referral service, 985-2929.
  • When your personal life becomes too much to handle: Dependent Care and Worklife Balance Issues, consultation, 898-0380.
  • When you need some exercise: Global Fit Discount Fitness Club, memberships and health promotion programs, 1-800-294-1500.
  • When caring for elderly parents: Elder Care Workshops, held throughout the semester on issues such as Community Service, Long Term Care Placement, and Services for Families of Alzheimer's Disease Patients, by Penn's Institute on Aging, 1-800-789-PENN.
  • Other support groups, references are available from PENN Friends by calling 1-888-321-4433.

Originally published on January 14, 1998