Counseling program helps people return to work despite mental health challenges – NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth

The economics professor Dr. North Texas native Jared Pickens considers himself a social person who thrives around colleagues and others.

“I’m a very outgoing person and I thrive on working with people. So when I was out of the classroom and not really having time with my students and my peers, that time was very, very challenging for me,” Pickens said.

However, when he returned to campus, the workplace was never the same.

“I had imagined it being how it used to be, but when I got back to campus, not everyone returned to the workplace. So for me it was really challenging because I found out quickly what I had experienced in the past may not come back any longer and that was very tough,” Pickens said.

“I finally broke down one night and I just need help, you know, I have to get help here. My fear got so big because I just didn’t enjoy what I was doing anymore. Number two, I didn’t like where I was,” he added.

He found help through Medical City Green Oaks Outpatient WorkReturns Program.

The program helps people manage the psychological stressors of returning to work under a new norm, whether it’s staff shortages, fears of contracting COVID-19, or a new work-life balance.

“We’re seeing a lot of burnout, anxiety, depression, frustration, anxiety, fear, those kinds of negative emotions that’s really draining the workforce right now,” said Diane Partin, administrative director of behavioral health outpatient services at Medical City Green Oaks.

During the pandemic, administrators say they’ve seen tremendous demand. They have expanded telemedicine services to meet them.

“Many of our employees who participate in the program have never had a mental health problem before. So we’re helping them not only to deal with their mental health issue, but also in terms of getting back to work,” Partin said.

Treatment plans may include group, family therapy, and/or individual counseling.

The WorkReturns program is offered in Dallas and Plano. Personal and virtual options are available. It’s the only one like it in North Texas.

The aid provided coping strategies for Pickens, who said he now realizes he is far from alone when it comes to the unseen challenges of returning to work.

“Today I’m not perfect. But I understand now that I don’t have to be perfect. I’m back in the classroom and teaching remotely for a bit right now. I’m going back to what I do for a living and it’s not the same as it used to be, but I’m approaching it very differently.”

If you or someone you know is going through a crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “Home” to 741741.

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