by Tom Parisi
NIU’s Employee Assistance Program has beefed up its counseling staff to accommodate the increased need for services.
Individual counseling sessions and group workshops are being conducted on campus and at the NIU outreach centers for faculty and staff impacted by the Feb. 14 incident. The workshops will continue through this week, said Deborah Haliczer, director of employee relations.
“Many, many faculty and staff have contacted us,” Haliczer said. “So we have increased the availability of counseling for our employees by temporarily adding additional staff members, who are mostly volunteers. We’ve had amazing offers of support from among our NIU faculty and professional staff and retirees who have clinical backgrounds.”
Haliczer, who also helped lead training sessions for faculty and staff in preparation for the return of students this week, noted that everyone at NIU has been affected in some way.
“Many people on campus were called into duty to help out during the emergency,” she said. “What’s amazing to me is just how many faculty and staff came to the aid of students and colleagues. The term, ‘not in my job description,’ was not part of that day. People did things that no one ever thought they would do. I’m just so proud of everyone.”
The recovery and healing process will take time. “While certainly people are saying they want to get back to my work, there are others who are going to need support services,” Haliczer said.
NIU employees who think they might need to talk about the events, or for other assistance, are encouraged to call the Employee Assistance Program at (815) 753-9191. NIU insurance plans have provisions for counseling, and the state’s managed care group provides three free sessions to university employees.
“You have to take care of yourself first, so we’ve been looking at ways of doing that,” added Nancy Apperson, coordinator of the Employee Assistance Program.
“It’s important that people get good sleep, and if they’re not, call us,” she said. “We’ll set up individual appointments. Also, remember to drink water, which helps to dilute some of the caffeine we might be drinking. Exercise triggers endorphins and also is an important part of well-being.”
Additionally, a “peace room” has been established in Room 231 of the Holmes Student Center for students, faculty and staff to go for some quiet time. The room is being staffed by campus ministers.