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Higher Education Thought Leadership

Emory partners with Atlanta Public Schools to support mental health of teachers and employees

Through a new collaboration, Emory’s Faculty Staff Assistance Program will provide an immediate and urgent response to Atlanta Public School employees who may need emotional or behavioral assistance during work hours.

Working through the pandemic has been a particularly stressful time for teachers and school employees, and feelings of anxiety and depression can add to that stress.

As part of a continuing effort to bolster the overall health and well-being of Atlanta’s teachers and school employees, Emory has partnered with Atlanta Public Schools (APS) to launch a new service – Urgent Behavioral Health Response.

Emory’s Faculty Staff Assistance Program (FSAP) will provide an immediate and urgent response to APS employees who may need emotional or behavioral assistance during work hours (Mondays through Fridays from 7 a.m. – 5 p.m.).  

“The FSAP is honored to partner with Atlanta Public Schools to provide this important service,” says Paula Gomes, executive director of FSAP and assistant vice president of human resources at Emory University. “We recognize Atlanta teachers and school employees are on the front lines of educating and supporting children during such a difficult time in our history. We want to be there for them when they are facing a crisis by being available, responsive and supportive to each caller’s needs. It is critical now more than ever to reinforce the value of accessing mental health resources to promote self-care and emotional well-being.”

Emory will provide 11 contracted and licensed behavioral clinicians to support the schools in APS’s nine clusters. Emory’s FSAP will offer specialized urgent care services to immediately assist APS staff with severe issues (e.g., thoughts of suicide, experiencing traumatic deaths, intimate partner violence) that disrupt their emotional well-being and mental health. 

“Adding the Emory Urgent Response Program to Atlanta Public Schools’ well-being supports staff with in-the-moment care to help them weather life’s challenges,” says Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Lisa Herring. “The initiative reinforces our mission of providing a caring culture, and staff who are well are in the best position to serve our students and families.” 

APS will continue to offer behavioral health support to APS staff outside of work hours through its employee assistance provider, Deer Oaks. 

Along with providing urgent behavioral support for APS teachers and employees, the partnership is aligned with Emory’s recently launched community engagement strategy, which focuses on building and enhancing partnerships in the Atlanta community. 

“This partnership touches the heart of Emory’s community engagement strategy, which was established to hear and respond to the needs of the Atlanta community,” says Alan Anderson, Emory’s assistant vice president for university partnerships. “In the midst of this challenging time, we are committed to leveraging Emory’s greatest strengths and resources to proudly serve the staff of Atlanta Public Schools.”



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