Counseling Program Helps People Return to Work Amid Mental Stressors

Returning to the workplace after spending months working from home can have an incredible mental toll that you likely didn't expect

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North Texas economics professor Dr. Jared Pickens considers himself a people person who thrives when around colleagues and others.

"I'm a big extrovert kind of individual and I thrive off working with people. So when I wasn't in the classroom anymore, and I didn't really have time with my students, and my peers, that time was very, very challenging for me," said Pickens.

However, when he returned to campus, the workplace wasn't the same.

"I had pictured it the way it used to be, but when I returned back to campus, not everyone returned back to the workplace. So for me, it was really challenging, because I had found out quickly that what I had experienced in the past, may not come back for even longer, and that was very hard," said Pickens.

"I finally broke down one night and just I need help, you know, I have to get some help here. My anxiety got so high because I just didn't enjoy what I did anymore. Number two, I didn't like where I was," he added.

He found help through Medical City Green Oaks WorkReturns outpatient program.

The program helps people manage the psychological stressors of returning to work under a new norm, whether that involves staffing shortages, fear over getting COVID-19 or a new balance of work/home life.

"We're seeing a lot of burnout, anxiety, depression, frustration, angst, fear, those kinds of negative emotions that are really draining the workforce right now," said Medical City Green Oaks Administrative Director of Behavioral Health Outpatient Services Diane Partin.

During the pandemic, administrators say they've seen tremendous demand. They've expanded telemedicine services to help meet it.

"A lot of our folks that come into the program have never experienced a mental health issue before. So we are helping them navigate, not only their mental health issue but as it relates to going back to work," said Partin.

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

The WorkReturns program is offered in Dallas and Plano. In-person and virtual options are available. It's the only one like it in North Texas.

The help provided coping strategies for Pickens, who said that he now realizes he is far from alone when it comes to the invisible challenges of returning to the workplace.

"Today, I'm not perfect. But I understand now that I don't have to be perfect. I'm back in the classroom, right now teaching a little remotely. I'm going back into what I do for a living and it's not the same as it used to be, but I'm approaching it in a much different way."

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