The Manhattan-Ogden school board on Wednesday approved a new program that offers mental health services to employees.
Human resources director Andy Turner said the employee assistance program through New Directions, an independent mental, emotional and social health company, would provide a multitude of services to all of the roughly 1,800 school district employees. The program costs $24,192 per year.
“As the third-largest employer in Manhattan, I was shocked to see we didn’t have something like this,” he said.
Turner said more employees were seeking mental health appointments through their insurance, Blue Cross Blue Shield.
With the new program, employees will have access to counselors via smartphone app; phone calls to employees deemed “high-risk” and in need of help; face-to-face counseling with approved mental health professionals in town; and telephone counseling.
The program also would provide legal and financial services, in particular for those dealing with hardships like death or divorce; online self-help resources; and training and immediate assistance to work-related incidents, like death, layoffs or what Turner said is a “worst case scenario” — a school shooting.
“If something like that were to happen, they’d have mobile units of counselors on site within 24 hours,” he said.
Turner said he thought it would be good for all employees, in particular because there have been many deaths in the district this year, including a coach and relatives of staff members.
New Directions no longer works directly with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas as of 2017, he said, but had approved counselors and professionals in town.
Turner said the program would not directly save the district money on insurance premiums because there will not be a rebate. However, he said it could indirectly save money because getting treatment early could help prevent long-standing problems.