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Wellbeing & Mental Health

Photo by Anthony DeCarlo

With the many daily demands on faculty and especially during highly stressful and difficult times, it is critical to maintain focus on mental health and wellbeing. Unfortunately, many medical school faculty devote significantly more time and effort taking care of their patients, trainees, and family members than they do taking care of themselves. It is essential to find time to engage in self-care activities that reduce stress and increase feelings of wellbeing and work-life satisfaction.

Many faculty work long hours under stressful work conditions which increase the risk of burnout and other mental health symptoms. When compounding major life stressors are added to this, self-guided activities may need to be supplemented by assistance from trained professionals. In some cases, ongoing professional treatment is needed in the form of psychotherapy or medications. As a Yale University faculty member, you have access to a comprehensive benefits package that offers a continuum of resources to support mental health, practice self-care, obtain short-term support and consultation, and receive ongoing professional treatment when necessary.

Wellbeing Resources

Work-life satisfaction is critical to the wellbeing of Yale School of Medicine faculty. There are a number of Yale-supported and vetted web-based sources of information on self-care or self-guided approaches to promoting mental health.

Your Signature Benefits include extensive information on resources to support your personal wellness, financial wellness, and work-life integration.

Being Well at Yale provides a number of resources related to stress reduction, mindfulness, meditation, movement, nutrition and weight management, sleep strategies, and tobacco cessation.

Optum’s Live and Work Well provides Yale’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP) services. Their website includes information on mental health, substance use, abuse, family caregiving, relationship challenges, financial wellness, legal consultation, suicide prevention, and crisis support. There is also access to TalkSpace where you can engage with a licensed therapist, 24/7, via text, voice, or virtual video message and the Sanvello App, a self-directed approach to reduce stress, anxiety, and depression using effective interventions like cognitive behavioral therapy and mindfulness. Learn more below and on the Yale’s Signature Benefits page.

Consultation, Support, Brief Intervention, and Referral

For many people experiencing difficult situations and events, the use of a time-limited form of behavioral health consultation and support can be helpful. As described above, Yale faculty have access to wellbeing and mental health support through the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) provided through Optum. This free service provides up to six counseling sessions per issue (i.e., stress and grief, workplace issues, finances, work-life services, child or elder care) for faculty and their household family members. EAP counselors also can assist in making referrals for ongoing behavioral health treatment with local psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, and other professionals who may be covered by your insurance (see next section on behavioral health treatment and Optum’s information on the distinction between EAP and treatment).

EAP telephone, virtual, and in-person counseling sessions are HIPAA confidential and not reported nor discoverable by employers. There is no charge for these services, and they are not billed to insurers.

Faculty and their household family members can access EAP services through the Optum website or by calling 1-866-416-6586 and press option #2 (Personal Wellness Benefits). An Optum consultant is available 24/7 to listen to your situation and provide confidential help for finding support or resources or assist you with scheduling an appointment with a licensed provider in the community.

In addition to these resources, Yale faculty can contact a Yale-dedicated licensed psychologist to provide time-limited confidential consultation, counseling, and referral services. Amy Sceery, PhD is an experienced clinician who has worked in New Haven for many years and is familiar with the unique challenges of working at Yale. She provides solution-focused, strengths-based consultations around anxiety, depression, stress management, and other personal, family, and professional issues. You may schedule directly or email Dr. Sceery to set up an appointment.

Behavioral Health Treatment

The EAP benefit described above can be a very useful and an efficient way to get help for specific life circumstances, acute stress, or for extra support with your self-care plans. You may find it helpful to use your free EAP sessions before beginning ongoing treatment. Or, you can initiate ongoing behavioral health treatment directly without using EAP.

  • Behavioral health treatment options include ambulatory services that differ on the level of care provided:
    • outpatient therapy (typically one or more office visits per week)
    • intensive outpatient program (typically three hours/day for three days/week during the day or evening)
    • partial hospitalization program (typically four or more hours/day for five days/week).
  • Faculty most often start with outpatient treatment with a psychiatrist, psychologist, social worker, or marriage and family therapist. This professional can also advise when a more intensive ambulatory program might be helpful or when short-term (typically 1-4 weeks) hospitalization is needed. Most insurance plans cover much of the cost of ambulatory and short-term inpatient treatment for those programs and providers within their network. There are also longer-term residential programs (2 or more months), but those are often insufficiently covered by insurance.

Faculty whose healthcare benefits are through Yale University may receive medical services through Yale Health or one of the Aetna plans, while others may be covered by a spouse or domestic partners insurance. General access information is listed below. Deductibles, reimbursed rates, maximum sessions and out-of-pocket expense vary from plan to plan, so it is important to check with your specific plan for details.

Yale faculty enrolled in:

  • Yale Health have access to a full range of behavioral health services through Magellan Health. More information and details about accessing these services can be found on the Yale Health website.
  • Aetna medical plans offered through the university can learn more about their coverage options which vary based on the specific plan.
    • Services can be accessed through the Aetna website.
    • Click “Find a Doctor,” log in, and enter your plan and geographic area of services sought.
    • Use various search filters to identify specific treatment options, types of professionals, or problem areas
  • VA Connecticut health care can obtain information about employee assistance programs and behavioral health treatment options by accessing their benefit information from their VA desktop or laptop computer.
  • Yale New Haven Health’s Anthem insurance plan should call 1-800-934-0331 for information, list of providers, coverage, and preauthorization for mental health or substance use disorder treatment. They may also access the hospital’s EAP and other wellbeing resources through Beacon Health Options. Unlimited phone support and up to six counseling sessions per issue for each family member (stress and grief, workplace issues, finances, legal issues, work-life services, child or elder care providers) is offered.