The Ministry of Public Service (MPS) will soon be providing a series of new initiatives under its Employee Assistance Programme portfolio, to assist public officers to cope with challenges arising as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Director General, Human Resources of MPS, Gail Atkins, said some of the new initiatives would include the provision of Tip Sheets and Stress Level Tests.
Ms. Atkins said: “The Tip Sheets will provide strategies and or solutions to manage the health and well-being of officers, while the Stress Level Tests will highlight the level of stress associated with varying issues and will be an indicator for extending counselling services through Network Services Centre, to those public officers in distress.”
In addition, she stated, brief interactive sessions would be held online for public officers. The topics to be examined will include Emotional Response to COVID-19: Dealing with Fear, Anxiety and Grief; Working from Home: Managing Mood and Motivation; Family and Relationship Dynamics: How to Interact with Loved Ones; and Managing Change and Transition: Strategies to Cope with Stress.
The Director General noted that special emphasis would be placed on supervisory/management support, counselling and crisis support, transition and re-engagement.
She pointed out this would allow individuals at all levels in the public service to process their emotions and be appropriately debriefed in the current crisis.
Stressing the importance of these new initiatives, she said the aim was to provide preventative and proactive interventions for the early detection, identification and or resolution of personal and work-related issues, which could adversely affect employee well-being, performance and productivity.
Ms. Atkins said some public officers are anxious about the pandemic and its impact on human life.
“Our research has shown that the prevailing mood of some public servants is centred on fear and anxiety, as there is great concern about the preservation of one’s health and that of loved ones. Many officers have accepted and are comfortable with the ‘new normal’ of work from home arrangements, as it is believed that this mode of work will minimize health risks associated with interaction in large numbers,” she stated.
Ms. Atkins indicated that public officers who want to access the Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) in the People Support and Wellness Unit of MPS should call 535-4565, or Network Services Centre at 228-3056 or 228-7773.
Formerly managed by the Office of Public Sector Reform, the EAP services are offered through Network Services Centre, on a contractual basis. It provides a suite of services, including Individual Counselling, Family Counselling, Group Counselling, Seminars & Workshops, and Critical Incidents Stress Debriefing.
She stressed that any counselling received by public officers would be treated with the highest level of confidentiality. “As a means of ensuring confidentiality and to confirm proof of employment, employees are required to submit National Insurance numbers when seeking EAP services,” she explained.
Government, the Director General noted, meets the cost of the EAP, while for individual counselling, it pays for three annual visits for public officers. However, if subsequent counselling sessions are required within the same year, she continued, a 20 per cent discount is granted.