If post-Sept. 11 blues persist, here’s help

In the days following the World Trade Center disaster, faculty and staff had jobs to do—helping students handle their emotions and keeping the University safe and running. Meanwhile, their own feelings got put on the back burner.

The Division of Human Resources stepped into the void with the Employee Assistance Program (EAP), which provides not just counseling for individual faculty and staff but also for groups.

“We want to come into the schools, the centers, the departments and divisions when they want a group discussion,” said HR Vice President Jack Heuer.

A group in Van Pelt-Dietrich Library and the Office of the Executive Vice President took advantage of group counseling in the wake of Sept. 11.

“We ran a whole series of group sessions for the executive vice president, to allow people to talk about what they’re feeling, …what their plan is for the future,” Heuer said. “People made one another feel better.”

The free and confidential EAP gives faculty or staff and members of their immediate family an opportunity to discuss with a counselor the kinds of problems that might interfere with work or home life — from moving to a new home to substance abuse, from depression to interpersonal conflicts in the office. The service, provided by PENN-Friends, is a benefit for faculty and staff.

EAP counselors were there to facilitate the meetings for Executive Vice President John Fry’s division. One participant was Associate Vice President Jack Shannon. “It was an enriching and productive experience,” he said. “It gave me the opportunity to talk about some of my own reactions in the wake of Sept. 11, and also provided me with insights of what others in the Penn community were dealing with in the aftermath.”

Managers wanting to run customized group discussions for their employees can contact HR Quality of Work Life Programs Manager Marilyn Kraut at 215-898-0380.

To speak to an Employee Assistance Program intake counselor, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, call 1-888-321-4433. The intake counselor will help you find an appropriate counselor located either on campus or near where you live.

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Originally published on October 11, 2001