EAP provides resources to support LGBTQIA+ colleagues in the workplace

In a recent blog post, Jamie Justus, counselor in the HealthPoint Employee Assistance Program, discusses the fear and isolation that many people experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic, which can be magnified for members of the LGBTQIA+ community (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning, intersex and asexual, plus allies).

As an example in the post, Justus cites an article based on a survey by the Trevor Project, a non-profit that provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to young people under age 25 who are LGBTQ. The survey underscores the negative impact of the pandemic on young people who identify themselves as LGBTQ. For example, 70 percent of LGBTQ youth described their mental health as poor most of the time or always during the pandemic.

In the context of the workplace, Justus said that managers and supervisors typically work with a diverse group of staff of all ages and identities.

“Managers and supervisors may want to know resources for their staff when onboarding or when an individual is uncomfortable,” Justus said. “Part of being responsive to employees to is to be aware of their identities if they choose to share them and to direct them to appropriate resources.”

Justus suggests some resources for members and supporters of the LGBTQIA+ community on campus:

  • Pride and Equity Faculty Staff Association – Supports the interests of LGBTQIA+ staff and faculty.
  • Gender and Sexuality Center – Offers programs such as Ally Workshops that help participants learn tools and resources in order to support inclusion of LGBTQIA+ staff and students.
  • EAP counselors – Schedule an appointment by calling 512-471-3366 or emailing eap@austin.utexas.edu.
    Managers and supervisors can make space in their units for these workshops.

Justus said that managers and staff can also refer team members and colleagues to these external resources or reach out for support for themselves:

  • Trevor Project hotline – 866-488-7386. Crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to LGBTQ individuals under age 25.
  • Trans Lifeline – 877-565-8860. A peer support phone service for transgender individuals who are in crisis or looking for support from a trans or non-binary peer. (Non-binary is a broad term for people whose gender identity is not exclusively male or female.)
  • Ways to connect with others in the LGBTQIA+ community in the Austin area – LGBTQ+ Resources in Austin

“Ultimately, it’s about connecting or reconnecting after the past 15 months,” Justus said.

HealthPoint Director Susan Harnden stressed the importance of reaching out to and meeting the needs of the diverse population of the university community.

“The isolation resulting from the pandemic has shown us the importance of providing a wide range of mental health services, including self-service options such as the blog,” Harnden said. “We are also working to expand our knowledge of resources to which we can direct individuals.”

For more topics and resources, visit the EAP blog. In case you missed it, read the May 13, 2021, FAS Times article, “EAP shares neuroscience-based ideas for cultivating cohesive teams,” also based on an EAP blog post.