Did you know that, as an NC State employee, you can access resources online for everything from elder care to financial planning? Through GuidanceResources Online, you can also get help planning your next trip or researching contractors for home repairs.
The sky’s the limit, says Dan O’Brien, assistant director of employee relations. He coordinates the university’s Faculty and Staff Assistance Program, which houses GuidanceResources Online.
“The main goal of having this program is for our faculty and staff be able to live well and work well,” he says. “It’s a wonderful benefit that assists employees with whatever life may bring their way.”
Free and Confidential
It’s not uncommon for organizations as large as NC State to have employee assistance programs, but the university’s program is unique, O’Brien says, because it not only offers resources for physical and mental health, but also for financial well-being, legal support and family services.
And the program is free and entirely confidential.
“It’s essentially a no-cost benefit to faculty, staff and members of their households,” O’Brien says. The term “household” is defined broadly, he says, encompassing not only tax dependents or partners who may live under your roof, but also those who don’t live at home, such as aging parents or college-age children.
O’Brien has used the program for help finding an elder care facility for his parents as well as assistance navigating the college admissions process. In each case, ComPsych, the third-party provider that operates GuidanceResources Online, did all the research and provided personalized reports that helped O’Brien and his family with those big decisions.
“As long as it’s legal, ethical and searchable, they can do all that diligence for you, which can save a lot of time, energy and money,” O’Brien says.
If you’re planning a trip, they won’t serve as travel agents, but they’ll do initial research for you on things like travel conditions, required vaccinations or the destinations that best suit your interests, he says.
Confidentiality is key. The program administrators have no idea who uses the services unless you decide to disclose that information. And if you’d rather not talk on the phone with a service provider, you can chat online, send an email, watch a video or read a resource guide. There is also a GuidanceNow mobile app available for Apple and Android devices.
Take the First Step
Getting started is easy, O’Brien says. Visit GuidanceResources Online and sign up with NC State’s web ID: FASAP. Then you’ll be prompted to create a unique user ID and password.
“There are a lot of great resources on wellness, preventive care, elder care, on anything that you can think of, from major life events to everyday circumstances,” O’Brien says.
If you have mental or physical health needs, the program will connect you with a clinician who will provide an initial assessment, then give a referral to a local provider or counselor. You’ll get three free visits after that. If you want to continue with the treatment or counseling, the program can connect with your benefits to get the ball rolling.
For assistance with legal issues – from divorce to estate planning – the program provides unlimited access to ComPsych staff attorneys. And if your situation requires additional localized legal counsel, you’ll receive a 25% discount on services from local attorneys within the ComPsych network.
The program’s financial services work the same way, O’Brien says.
“Faculty, staff and their household members have access to a suite of financial planners and CPAs for financial-related questions,” he says. “Now, of course, you can’t call them and ask them to do your taxes, but if you’re confused about how to fill out a tax form, they can help with that.”
‘Just a Click or Two Away’
O’Brien offers himself as a resource as well. If you have questions about the program or need assistance using it, feel free to drop him a line. He and his team also are available to lead training sessions on campus.
“At the end of the day, you spend a lot of time and energy at work,” he says. “And people need assistance, they need resources to deal with life events as well as the everyday issues that come up.
“So why not have a resource at your disposal that’s no cost, that’s confidential, that can really address the challenges that life brings your way? I invite folks to visit the website, register and start taking advantage of the number of resources that are just a click or two away.”
There are a ton of other wellness resources available for faculty and staff, including the Campus Smiles dental office, dietitian services, confidential counseling and financial wellness workshops. Check out the full list.