Employee Assistance Program to host lecture on uncertainty around COVID-19

Greg Gancarz, Reporter

DeKALB – The Employee Assistance Program will host a two-hour training workshop addressing staff concerns about the uncertainty of the work environment caused by the responses taken to COVID-19.

The lecture will take place from 10 a.m. to noon Wednesday through Microsoft Teams. The event is targeted at university faculty and staff, including student workers, said Brian Smith, director of the EAP and the event’s presenter.

The training lecture was organized in response to a repeated pattern of concerns and inquiries raised by NIU staff, Smith said.

“Certainty during uncertain times has become a pretty common conversation that we’ve been having with individuals and groups, especially throughout this pandemic,” Smith said.

The key points addressed in the talk will be to help people understand the mental thoughts and physical reactions, especially surrounding feelings of fear or powerlessness, Smith said.

“As human beings, our brains are always searching for certainty or specificity or understanding around situations,” Smith said. “As these circumstances endure, it’s just a natural reaction that the brain would be experiencing different symptoms like depression or anxiety or a sense of feeling detached.” 

The first part of the training will be covering how to evaluate these possible feelings of mental anguish, while the second portion will cover different tools people can use to take care of themselves, Smith said.

The assumption that staff will go back to something that is considered normal is not helpful, Smith said. 

“The new normal is not something that we will arrive at. It is being uncovered for us every day as we move through this,” Smith said.

University employees interested in attending the event must register at go.niu.edu/campus-training or by calling 815-753-9191.