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USM Employee Mental Health FAQs

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Yes. Mental health is part of overall health and well-being. Employees (faculty and staff) who face health challenges that interfere with their ability to work should contact Rachelle Irvin, Assistant Benefits Manager, for a confidential discussion of their options. Rachelle can be reached at rachelle.irvinFREEMississippi.

An Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is a tool that offers employees a wide range of assistance, including mental health counseling, legal and financial guidance, and resources & referrals for anything from childcare to home repair contractors.  All benefit eligible employees have access to our EAP, as well as all members of their household. To register online, go to or the app GuidanceNow, and use the Organization Web ID COM589. When it asks for your company name, enter UNIVE (a box should pop up with USM for you to select). The EAP comes with free sessions for mental health counseling, either telephonic or in person, which is 3 sessions per person per issue per year. For more information on obtaining counseling (and any of their other services), contact them at 800- 272-7255. Remember, membership also comes with telephonic access to talk to a counselor, financial advisor, or legal advisor, as well.

All benefit eligible employees also have access to a new resilience app designed to help you manage stress, increase motivation, and proactively build mental wellness. The app is fun, engaging, and fully digital. To start, you take a quick 3-minute questionnaire to measure your resilience, and then a personalized self-paced training course starts. There are short, unique daily chats that quickly help you build healthy resilience skills and habits. Contact Quentisha Jones in University HR with this form and she will send you instructions to download the app for free. Click here to view a short video about the Resilience App.

If you or someone you know needs support now, you can reach the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline by calling or texting 988.

Not unless you are a student as they are a student support service.  Employees have use of the EAP (see above). 

A mental health challenge could be considered a disability, and you may be eligible to receive a reasonable accommodation.   There is a process that you must go through to request an accommodation, which includes you and your healthcare provider completing a medical certification, and you can contact Rachelle Irvin, Assistant Benefits Manager, for a confidential discussion of your options. Rachelle can be reached at rachelle.irvinFREEMississippi.

More information can be found in the Employee Handbook, Policy 7.5 “Disabilities and Reasonable Accommodations.

A medical certification completed by you and your healthcare provider must be completed when requesting a leave of absence or a reasonable accommodation. A “healthcare provider” can be a physician (M.D., D.O.), a psychologist, a professional counselor, a nurse practitioner, or any other care provider for mental health conditions. More information about these documents, you may contact Rachelle Irvin, Assistant Benefits Manager, at rachelle.irvinFREEMississippi.

No, but employees at USM have access to an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) that offers confidential local referrals and a series of three free appointments (see above).

All medical certifications and related information that describe the health or medical history or condition of the employee or family members must be handled as confidential medical information. Such information should not be retained by the department and must be stored in a locked file separate from the personnel file within Human Resources.  Supervisors will be notified that a leave of absence has been approved, and they will also be involved in determining an appropriate reasonable accommodation, but they will not receive information about the condition itself.

Contact Human Resources (Rachelle Irvin, Assistant Benefits Manager, at rachelle.irvinFREEMississippi.) to learn more about your eligibility for a leave of absence.  More information can be found in the Employee Handbook, in the following sections:

  • 6.2 Personal Leave
  • 6.3 Major Medical Leave
  • 6.4 Family and Medical Leave Act
  • 6.5 Leave of Absence without Pay

Once an employee’s yearly deductible has been met, USM health insurance will pay 80% of the cost for approved care. More information about specifics over coverage can be found on the Mississippi Department of Finance and Administration website. 

The supervisor should connect the employee with Human Resources to discuss their needs and provide documentation of their condition. Note that it is never allowed for a supervisor to share what they know about someone’s health condition with anyone outside of University Human Resources. The supervisor can however share the EAP, Resilience App, and Suicide & Crisis Lifeline (988) with the employee.

We always want our colleagues to know we care and be aware of resources that they might want to use.  Whether and how you approach your colleague depends in part on your relationship to the person. If you are not close to the person, you can still talk with them, being mindful of their right to privacy. It is key to find a quiet, private space to talk to them, then share what you have observed in their behavior or demeanor that has raised some concern for you about their well-being. Be honest, empathetic, and straight-forward, and focus on what you have noticed and that you are approaching them out of care. Listen to what they respond and reflect what you hear back to them, avoiding any kind of judgment or diagnosis (e.g., “I think you are depressed”). Ask about their support systems and whether they are aware of any resources (e.g., the EAP). Depending on their response, encourage them to review local resources, make use of wellness apps, look into the EAP, and contact Human Resources if they believe they need accommodations. Please also note that you can call or text 988 to reach the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline if you or someone you know needs support now.

If you are uncomfortable talking with someone directly, talk with your supervisor or Human Resources about your concerns.