MyLife Services Offers Unique Support
to MIT Personnel
It’s the start of a new year. Congratulations to all of us who have the opportunity to participate – in whatever way we ultimately can – in the fresh start that this annual event tends to symbolize. Some of us will make resolutions. Some of us have made them already. Some of us do not believe in making them anymore. Some of us never did.
Whatever side of the “to reset or not to reset” question you are on, during this time of the year, it is probably worth remembering that nothing contributes more to self-directed change than a combination of first knowing that the very resources you might need are actually available to you and subsequently using those resources to the fullest extent possible. Otherwise, we risk cheating ourselves of the help, the relief, the information, or the knowledge that could make our complex lives so much better – that is, more manageable, less stressful, and maybe even more intelligible. Indeed, data from the 2016 MIT Quality of Life Survey indicate that faculty members at MIT are experiencing stress in various aspects of their lives:
- 78% experience stress due to lack of time for family and friends (because of work commitments);
- 47% feel overwhelmed by all they need to do;
- 34% are either not satisfied or neutral about their ability to balance work and personal life.
For these and other reasons, we certainly owe it to ourselves to know about and make full use of MIT’s new benefit for all of its employees: MyLife Services, which is a one-stop resource providing all MIT faculty, staff, postdoc associates, postdoc fellows, and their families, with confidential, free, 24/7 access to a network of experts who are ready to assist you with various life concerns. MyLife Services is provided by an external vendor, KGA Inc., and replaces the counseling provided by the Personal Assistance Program previously administered by MIT Medical. However, graduate and undergraduate students should still be referred to MIT Medical for counseling assistance.
Knowing about this new benefit can give you a different perspective on your potential to improve your challenging circumstances and on your ability to get the assistance you need to achieve a personal goal. MyLife Services is available 24/7 and is completely confidential.
One phone call connects you to a licensed, Master’s or PhD-level counselor right away. You or a family member can also ask to see a counselor in person, near work or near home, for free and confidential counseling sessions.
And MyLife Services will work with you to make sure the counselor is in your insurance network should you wish to continue counseling. The suite of benefits available through MyLife Services includes:
- Legal Assistance: Legal consultation with an attorney, with referrals for most legal issues.
- Financial Consultation: Help with debt management, budgeting, and financial planning.
- Stress Reduction: Assessment of stress level and techniques/tips for managing stress.
- Short-term Counseling: Face-to-face, phone, or video sessions to help address emotional and relationship issues, and problems with addictions for yourself or a family member.
- Crisis Counseling: Counseling and consultation for individuals, HR, managers, and the community before, during, and after traumatic events, such as suicide, violence, and natural and human-made disasters.
- Grief Counseling: Supportive counseling and consultation for individuals and families who have experienced a loss.
- Work-life Resources: Targeted research and referrals for everything from relocation services to pet care.
- Parenting/Child Care Resources: Personalized guidance, research, and referrals for a variety of child care needs and parenting questions.
- Sleep Consultation: Tips and tools to help you get a good night’s rest.
- Career Counseling: Help for you or a family member with career exploration and job search questions.
- Nutrition Consultation: Support from a nutritionist on weight management and other dietary concerns.
Such abundant and readily available resources might help someone go from mumbling a helpless “I can’t” to a more hopeful “I think I can.” To be sure, the vast array of services available through MyLife Services may feel paralyzing initially. But each time you access MyLife Services, your specific question or problem will be targeted and a customized solution will be developed for you. In glowing terms, one user described his experience in this way:
“What a fantastic improvement to find a counselor. Previously I was sent to the BCBS website, which was totally overwhelming. With this new service, I got the assistance I needed. Total game changer. Patrick is awesome, please let him know he truly helped. Calm and reassuring. He efficiently found a counselor to refer to me.”
And, of course, the more you access the new benefit, the more navigable and user-friendly MyLife Services will become for you. In the initial six months (May 1, 2016-October 31, 2016) of this MIT benefit, 869 people used MyLife Services. This is an estimated annualized utilization rate of 13.1%. Approximately 8% of MIT’s total faculty have used MyLife Services in that same time frame. Moreover, faculty, staff, and postdocs have called from each of MIT’s Schools. This is all very good news!
In a world that often demands we pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps and that appears, very much, to esteem the culture of doing it yourself, using this resource helps to exercise an important skill that many of us tend to underutilize: asking for help.
I intentionally call “asking for help” important, and I also call it a skill because it is far too often stigmatized as a sign of weakness. That outlook can change, and we know at least one member of our community plans to spread the word on behalf of those who may not yet know how truly helpful MyLife Services can be:
“I’m amazed that such a great service as MyLife Services is available to MIT employees. For five years I’ve been at MIT as a graduate student, then post-doc, and now employee; and I’ve never experienced such a useful service as this in all that time. I plan on spreading the word about MyLife Services to all staff in my department.”
It is our sincere hope that this person on a mission will not be alone. Don’t forget to remind your families, your colleagues, your staff, and your postdocs about this new and very helpful benefit.
Perhaps it wasn’t during a ritual, resolution-making January that MIT resolved to establish a resource to attend to the holistic needs of its employees. But, so far, the end result of that decision is, indeed, MIT’s overall improvement: employees are beginning to know that the help they need is readily available and that a resource endorsed and paid for by the university actually encourages them to ask for that help. Sometimes the help involves making a difficult decision (“I called and spoke with the lawyer. I did not like anything he said to me . . . but he told me exactly what I needed to hear. He was a real help.”) Overall, people who have used MyLife Services seem immensely grateful not only for its very existence, but also for the quality of care its counselors exhibit in addressing their needs. For example, one caller writes: “I am pleased to say I got outstanding assistance and follow-up from Andrea. I have been struggling with a number of personal issues and she stayed connected to me. She even talked with a nurse at my request. I am very thankful.”
In all, when Human Resources’ Work Life Center added MyLife Services to its suite of programs, MIT effectively acknowledged the humanity of its employees – that we are people with full personal and professional lives whose effectiveness, at work and at home, can suffer if we have nowhere to go for help. MyLife Services is here to change that. It’s an actual new year, and as a consequence of this new benefit, it’s also a proverbial “new day!” Let us make seeking and receiving whatever help we need the method by which we also make the most of this fresh start and this new resource.
For more information on MyLife Services, call: 844-405-LIFE (5433) or visit the MIT Work-Life Center Website. For more information on other Work-Life Center programs, including planning and paying for college, senior care planning, and children with special learning needs, visit: hrweb.mit.edu/worklife/about-center. Also, the seminar series changes each semester. The current offerings are found here: hrweb.mit.edu/worklife/seminars. The Work-Life Center staff is always available to support your work-life balance. Call them at 617-253-1592.