By SUSAN JONES
Working from home or having to go to work, dealing with children home from school, worrying about aging relatives and concern about getting sick yourself — all of these add up to some pretty stressful times for everyone in the Pitt community.
At the Senate Council meeting on March 19, Chancellor Patrick Gallagher was asked by Ben Bratman, professor of law, about what steps the University is taking to try to help with mental health issues and “a degree of isolation that is unprecedented.”
“One of the reasons we feel it's so important to actively support this now remote
Diaspora,” Gallagher said, “is that that despite our physical separation, we can produce other types of connection, social connection. And we can also give people I think, a sense of agency. I don't want people feeling like they're just out there receiving stuff. I think that we have to find a way to let people feel like they're contributing and making a difference.”
To that end, HR and others are looking on ways that employees, particularly those whose jobs aren’t conducive to working at home, can get new training and professional development remotely and possibly join other work groups to help with special projects.
David DeJong, vice chancellor for Human Resources, also said there are resources for supervisors on the HR website to help keep employees engaged and motivated.
In addition the University offers several other resources:
Life Solutions, the University’s faculty and staff assistance program, is available to support employees during this difficult time. In addition to online and phone support, Life Solutions offers a 24/7 crisis line, resources for child and family care, and remote counseling and coaching services. All services are confidential and offered at no cost. Learn more online or call 1-866-647-3432.
The Pitt School of Social Work has posted tips for managing stress associated with the COVID-19 virus outbreak from the National Center for PTSD.
The Centers for Disease Control also has resources on its website about coping with stress and anxiety during this crisis, including:
1. Take breaks from watching, reading or listening to news stories, including social media. Hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can be upsetting.
2. Take care of your body. Take deep breaths, stretch, or meditate. Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep, and avoid alcohol and drugs.
3. Make time to unwind. Try to do some other activities you enjoy.
4. Connect with others. Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling
If you haven’t already signed up for Be Fit Pitt alerts, now might be the time. The videos from Pitt’s Healthy Lifestyle Institute show short exercises that can be done in small spaces, like your living room. Renee Rogers, associate professor and programming director of the Healthy Lifestyle Institute, shared a message on YouTube about staying active.
Help for parents
The Office of Human Resources and University Center for Child Development have created the Pitt Faculty, Staff and Students who are Parents Yammer group to connect members of the Pitt community with children and teens stuck at home because of school closures. This platform is a resource for the community to share information and ideas with one another, including child care resources, tips for teaching at home and managing remote work and child care. Access the group directly via this link (accessible via Pitt Passport)
Susan Jones is editor of the University Times. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-648-4294.
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