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The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on the mental health and well-being of individuals around the world, and at UW Medicine, we are no exception. Many of us are not only dealing with the critical work of UW Medicine, but we are also coping with the daily stresses of home-schooling and caring for our families. Now, there is an additional tool to help UW Medicine employees who may be struggling with the emotional toll of COVID-19 or other stressors.

UW Medicine leadership in partnership with the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and the UW Medical Center Outpatient Psychiatry Clinic recently launched the UW Medicine Employee Mental Health Support (EMHS) program. EMHS helps UW Medicine employees and their household members who live in Washington navigate the variety of mental health resource options at UW Medicine and in the community. Over 100 employees have accessed the program in the first two months.

The EMHS online intake form walks users through a series of questions to help them determine what behavioral health services or resources are available to pursue. The intake form and communication with the navigator are completely confidential unless there is risk of harm to self or others, and there is no charge to speak with an EMHS Health Navigator. The service is for all employees regardless of their role at UW Medicine; all UW Medicine employees are welcome and encouraged to use this service if they need assistance.

You can find the EMHS Intake Form and other UW Medicine mental health resources such as CareLink, the UW Medicine Peer to Peer Program, UW Medicine Supportive Conversations and the nationwide Physician Support Line on the UW Medicine Employee Mental Health Resources page.

The EMHS team is excited to provide this additional resource to help UW Medicine employees get the support and care they need. We will get through this together.

Quick tips on navigating mental health resources:

  • If you are seeking resources for individuals under the age of 18, we encourage you to call the Mental Health Referral Service for Children and Teens (833.303.5437) at Seattle Children’s Hospital, which is designed to help people access care in the community.
  • There are many new behavioral health resources available through our UW Medicine-sponsored insurance plans including free online self-help tools, wellness apps and even a service that matches you with a mental health professional in the community. Visit the Washington Health Care Authority Behavioral Health Services by Plan website for more information.
  • UW CareLink is the employee assistance program provided for PEBB benefits-eligible UW employees, their dependents and other household members. Offering five free counseling sessions for each issue you work to solve, CareLink can assist with care for adults and minors. Offering a network of multilingual master’s level or above counselors, CareLink is available nationwide 24 hours a day, seven days a week by calling 866.598.3978 (For TDD 800.697.0353).

Tips for using CareLink:

  • Specify your preferences for a counselor match: qualifications, language, race, gender, etc.
  • Ask for providers who accept your insurance in case you want more than the five free visits.
  • Upon request, CareLink can even schedule your first counseling visit.

This article was submitted by the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences.

Photo caption: Amanda Focht, MD, answers a call for the consult line.