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Joplin School District adds mental health support program for employees

Joplin Globe - 8/14/2022

Aug. 14—A new program in support of employee mental health needs will go into effect in October at the Joplin School District.

The program was developed through the district's Health Plan Advisory Committee, which consists of both certified and classified staff, in partnership with Barker Phillips Jackson Inc., a regional benefits consultant group. It was approved by the Joplin Board of Education late last month.

Through the program, all district full- and part-time employees — plus spouses, children and other family members living in the home — will have access to mental health support, regardless of whether they're enrolled in the district's health care plan. The program covers six free visits with a mental health care provider for each event.

An event could be a depressive episode, troubles in one's marriage or financial difficulties, said Jamie Brummett, the district's benefits consultant with Barker Phillips Jackson Inc., as she told school board members recently how the program would work. In that hypothetical example, the employee would receive six free visits for each of those issues, she said. Each family member in the household also would receive six visits per event, she said.

"If you're having a bad day and you need to call and talk to somebody, they have licensed professionals with their master's degree that answer the phones 24 hours a day, seven days a week," she told the school board. "If you want an onsite or telephonic consultation, they can typically get that scheduled within five days."

The program also will provide assistance to employees going through major life events, such as births, deaths, retirement, elder care, new homes and more. It also includes access to a crisis response team that would be formed in response to a school or community incident that would help employees deal specifically with that event, Brummett said.

Brummett said that just four years ago, the school district offered no mental health benefits for employees. Now, addressing staff members' mental health needs is an explicit part of the district's new strategic plan.

"It was wonderful to see Joplin Schools proactively seek a robust employee assistance program," she said in a statement from the district. "Several carriers offer free EAPs (Employee Assistance Programs) with limited visits for employees enrolled in benefits. Joplin Schools selected, and funded, a program that offers services above and beyond a traditional EAP and is offering this to all employees. This is a tremendous benefit that will impact many employees and their families."

The program is expected to cost the school district about $26,000 annually through United Medical Resources, a third-party administrator for United Healthcare Services that tracks health insurance claims for district staff.

"Not only does this help us attract and retain a valuable team, it addresses a key focus area in our strategic plan for instructional support," Superintendent Kerry Sachetta said in a statement. "It's a win-win, and I'm proud we're able to offer it."

Classified staff member Kaylah Maynard, who served on the Health Plan Advisory Committee, said the new program will have a positive effect on the way she lives.

"Resources like this could save people," she said in a statement. "The new EAP ensures that the people who need the most help are getting it."


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