On Oct. 1, all employees of the New Braunfels Independent School District will have a new benefit available to them.

It’s called the Employee Assistance Program, and it provides employees access to counseling for mental health.

“The mental health and well-being continues to be a concern for all employers,” said Steve Brown, NBISD executive director of finance and operations. “Our third party admin, U.S. employee benefits services group has provided a benefits option through the EAP.”

The assistance program will be available to all employees, all dependents, children up to age 26, and all household members.

However, this is not a new program for district employees. 

“If you were an employee and you already paid for disability insurance, you already received this type of benefit available,” said Rebecca Villarreal, NBISD’s director of communications. “Let’s say for example, you pay into medical and dental, but you pay extra for vision, whereas your coworker wasn’t paying for the vision. Now everyone is eligible.”

The district decided to pay the extra $4,000 a year so that all employees would be able to utilize this benefits. This decision doubles the number of consultations, from three to six.

The EAP also provides guidance, resources, and support for home life, such as child and elder care, pet care, travel, or identity theft and fraud.

The benefit is part of a bigger network, the Standard Insurance Company.

“The EAP will be a useful addition to our employee benefit package and help address legislative concerns addressed in recently passed Senate Bill 11,” Brown said.

SB 11 deals with school safety and mental health promotion, and is effective immediately upon signature.

According to a 2017 Educator Quality of Work Life Survey conducted by the American Federation of Teachers and the Badass Teachers Association, 74% of educators and school staff in Texas reported that work is “often” or “always” stressful.

The survey also showed that 38% of teachers and school staff in Texas had reported of threats, being bullied or harassed at work, and 84% felt disrespected by U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos.

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