At the monthly workshop meeting of the Forks Board of Supervisors, the board discussed providing mental health services to the township’s 76 employees.
Human Resource Manager Barb Bartek introduced a counseling program, run through Lehigh Valley Health Network, which would allow employees to seek professional help for a broad range of mental and emotional issues.
Counselors would provide preliminary services in-person or over the phone then, if necessary, refer the employee to a specialist.
According to Bartek, based on the volume other entities of a similar size experience, the township can expect five employees per year to request assistance. Assuming that figure is accurate, the program will cost $2,060 per year. If only one person utilizes the program, it will cost $977.
The same program came before the board in 2006 and failed. Bartek cited “budgetary concerns” to explain its unpopularity. But now, given the current economic climate and its attendant pressures, Bartek thinks the township is ready.
“I think the EAP [Employee Assistance Program] will serve the township well. We are definitely revisiting it now and we think it will be a beneficial program overall for the health and well-being of the employees,” she said.
Participation in the program will be confidential and available to both part-time and full-time employees.
The board will consider the program further at its February 21st meeting.