Employee Assistance Progam

a young woman sits opposite a counsellor and explains her feelings. They are sitting on armchairs in the counsellor's office . The young woman is smiling as she listens to the advice.

Confidential mental health/work life education, counseling, referral, and follow-up support.

Counseling and resources for: depression/anxiety, grief/loss, family/relationship concern, substance abuse disorders, domestic violence, anger management, caregivers, job stress etc.

Onsite EAP counseling/consultation free to MAF employees and family members.

Management consultation on how to assist/refer employees dealing with stress that may be effecting work performance.

Crises counseling for onsite/offsite traumatic events

Staffed by a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and Certified EAP Professional (CEAP)

Located In MAF Medical Clinic with Private Entrance – Building 320, Room 105

Contact:

Porter Pryor porter.j.pryor@nasa.gov

Ph: 228-363-4910

NASA after- hours EAP support line (available evenings and weekends): 888-728-1404

Saturday, September 19 

A Message from your NASA MAF Employee Assistance Program Office and EAP Coordinator Porter Pryor:

The Importance of Taking Time Away from Work during the Pandemic

The Pandemic has altered the way some people use their accrued leave. Many do not feel safe traveling out of town for a traditional family vacation or even visiting out of town relatives. Those who opt to save vacation days for next year may be unknowingly headed toward burnout or even exhaustion that could otherwise be alleviated by simply taking some personal time to recharge their battery. Without realizing it, productivity can begin to suffer or worse, resentful thoughts toward their employer or co-workers may begin to creep in. Furthermore, relationships with family and friends may become negatively affected. For a well-balanced life, taking time for family and hobbies are important. It’s an old cliché, but we have to make sure we stop to smell the roses occasionally. If you feel unsafe traveling, then finding ways to detach from work while staying at home may be just what the doctor ordered. Whenever possible,  limiting access to work related emails and phone calls while taking time away from work is important, particularly if you have been working remotely during the pandemic. Find things to enjoy at home or in your community that follow safe social distancing guidelines. Read a good book, go fishing, play a round of golf, find a yoga class online or enjoy game night with family. If you feel the need to take on some overdue do-it-yourself home projects such as painting, landscaping, or car repair it is ok. Such projects can still create a distraction from work life and a sense of accomplishment when completed. If you are a manager or a supervisor encourage reluctant employees to utilize their leave time and spend time with family or friends. Honor employees’ request for time off when work allows. If work scheduling does not allow for extended time off, scheduling several individual days when time allows will help. Recognize that employees who step away from work on a periodic basis, utilizing earned leave, will often return with a renewed focus and refreshed attitude.

If you are feeling overwhelmed by job or personal stress and need more help than time off will provide, contact your Employee Assistance Counselor for a confidential consultation.

Your NASA Center EAP office can also provide supportive confidential, counseling and help directing you to resources.

To contact the MAF Employee Assistance Program Coordinator call Porter Pryor at 228-363-4910 or email porter.j.pryor@nasa.gov. See Porter Pryor’s previous messages on controlling COVID-19 stress and anxiety, the physical and emotional value of laughter, and the effects of mindfulness and exercise on the EAP section of the MAF Space website.

 

Monday, August 24 

A Message from your NASA MAF Employee Assistance Program Office and EAP Coordinator Porter Pryor:

 COVID Stress and Fatigue: Is it the Blues or Depression?

As the Pandemic drags on, it is easy to feel worn down by the changes in our normal routines and social activities. For those who suffer from depression, the effects may trigger more serious symptoms that if not addressed may begin to interfere with personal, work, and family life. Sometimes simple lifestyle changes (exercise, improved sleep habits, engaging virtually with friends and family) may lesson symptoms and help us feel better. Others may need to reach out for professional help through counseling or appropriate medical interventions to relieve more serious symptoms and to get their joy back.

How does one know if they are experiencing a temporary reaction to a stressful situation or symptoms of clinical depression? Do you still feel down when circumstances improve? Have you been experiencing deep sadness or irritability for a number of weeks or months? During that time have you had difficulty sleeping or getting up and out of the bed? Has your personal hygiene suffered? Have you missed work or had difficulty completing an assignment?

If you have experienced any of these symptoms talking to your physician or a counselor may be in order. If you are having thoughts of suicide or self-harm call a professional or dial 911 immediately (https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/). As always, your NASA EAP is just a phone call away.

The following links from two nonprofits have been included to help in understanding more about possible depression in yourself or a loved one.

A webinar from the Anxiety and Depression Association of America- “Depression: How to Recognize it and How to Treat it”. The presenter is Dr. Zachary Cohen, Clinical Researcher UCLA Medical Center. https://youtu.be/MUXh5k0J4MY

An article from Helpguide: “Dealing with Depression during Coronavirus” https://www.helpguide.org/articles/depression/dealing-with-depression-during-coronavirus.htm

Your NASA Center EAP office can also provide supportive confidential, counseling and help directing you to resources.

To contact the MAF Employee Assistance Program Coordinator call Porter Pryor at 228-363-4910 or email porter.j.pryor@nasa.gov.

Tuesday, August 11 1:22 PM

A Message from your NASA MAF Employee Assistance Program Office and EAP Coordinator Porter Pryor:

 Putting a Positive Spin on Social Distancing 

As we practice social isolation and/or social distancing to keep ourselves, families or others from being exposed to COVID-19, we may realize how much we miss many of our regular activities that involve others. It is easy to view these changes as negative sacrifices and restrictions that seem never ending. Dwelling on these losses that are outside our control can lead to frustration and resentment. Changing our focus to exploring safe activities that are within our control can help us become more content with whatever life sends our way. This is especially true for those who live alone and are feeling sadness or experiencing depression. Whether it is learning new ways to connect to others or revisiting activities or hobbies you once enjoyed or wanted to learn, with a little creative thinking, the list of possibilities is endless.

Creative ways to connect to others might be as simple as writing a letter, sending a card, calling or Face Timing your favorite aunt or uncle. It could be an opportunity to reach out to friends from high school or college you haven’t talked with in years, or it could be joining an online weekly support group from your place of worship or neighborhood association. You may consider offering to pick up your elderly neighbor’s groceries and drop them on their porch or to mow their lawn.

If it is learning to enjoy your time alone you might think about dusting off that guitar or clarinet that has been in the closet for years. You could get those paints and canvases out of the attic that you haven’t had time to use. Maybe you could begin researching that fall garden you have been saying you were going to get to but never did. You could find those fishing poles somewhere in the garage to restring and head out Saturday morning to your old favorite spot. You might go through some of those recipes that were torn out of magazines but never tried. Pump up those bicycle tires and get some sunshine and fresh air.  If you have been putting off taking a class or finishing a degree, then now may be the perfect time to take an online course.

The list could go on and on. Make your own list. Finding joy starts with how we look at the world. Do you look at a glass and see it as half empty or half full? Our attitude is something we can control. It may not be easy, but by practicing positive thoughts, we are learning to override negative ones.

Your NASA Center EAP office can also provide supportive confidential, counseling and help directing you to resources.

To contact the MAF Employee Assistance Program Coordinator call Porter Pryor at 228-363-4910 or email porter.j.pryor@nasa.gov. See Porter Pryor’s previous messages on controlling COVID-19 stress and anxiety, the physical and emotional value of laughter, and the effects of mindfulness and exercise on the EAP section of the MAF Space website.

Friday, July 28 12:42 PM

A Message from your NASA MAF Employee Assistance Program Office and EAP Coordinator Porter Pryor:

Maintaining Healthy Relationships during COVID-19

Stressors that the ongoing pandemic have added to families can take a toll on relationships if couples are not careful to communicate and work together. Some relationships may be strained by too much time together, while others may be strained by spending more time apart due to work responsibilities. Healthy relationships need a balance of together time and individual time apart. That may be difficult if both partners are working from home, especially if kids are home all day with limited opportunities for normal socialization with friends. In contrast, when only one partner is home, feelings that they are shouldering an unfair portion of the parenting responsibility can arise.  Partners, if not careful, may develop feelings of resentment that begin to undermine the relationship.

The good news is there are things partners can do to lessen the pandemic’s toll on their relationship. The first thing is to be aware that this is a common problem and not unique to them. The change to our lives brought about by the pandemic is unprecedented. But it can be an opportunity to get to know our partner on a deeper level as we reevaluate how we really listen to our partner’s needs and communicate our needs to them. Understanding when one or the other may be overwhelmed and in need extra support is crucial. Giving our partner positive affirmations of love and appreciation for what they do while becoming more aware when we may have used sarcasm or criticism in our communication with them (acknowledging and apologizing) can defuse difficult conversations.

Additional Resources:

For more specific tips on maintaining healthy relationships, here are links to articles from John Hopkin’s Medical Center (https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/coronavirus/keep-healthy-relationship-during-pandemic) and Emory Medical Center (https://med.emory.edu/departments/psychiatry/_documents/tips.couples.pdf). If you would like some extra help, contact your EAP office for a confidential discussion on strengthening your relationship.

Abusive and controlling relationships can intensify when both partners are together for long durations. An individual’s safety always comes first. If you are a victim of physical or emotional abuse reach out to the NASA Employee Assistance Program or the National Domestic Hotline (https://www.thehotline.org/) for information and help.

Your NASA Center EAP office can also provide supportive confidential, counseling and help directing you to resources.

To contact the MAF Employee Assistance Program Coordinator call Porter Pryor at 228-363-4910 or email porter.j.pryor@nasa.gov. See Porter Pryor’s previous messages on controlling COVID-19 stress and anxiety, the physical and emotional value of laughter, and the effects of mindfulness and exercise on the EAP section of the MAF Space website.

Friday, June 12 10:10 AM

A Message from your NASA MAF Employee Assistance Program Office and EAP Coordinator Porter Pryor:

Compassion, Empathy and Understanding

The recent events in our country have reminded us that racial injustices still take a great emotional toll on many. Anger, sorrow, and grief to name a few. Hopefully each of us have been moved to examine and question our actions, thoughts and beliefs. How do we really feel about those who are different than us? Do we try to put ourselves in other’s shoes? Do we try to see the world from their perspective? That is how we build empathy and compassion for others. Do we really celebrate diversity or are we threatened by it? Do we strive to recognize unconscious bias that may interfere with genuine respect for those who look different than we do? As employees of NASA, we know that diversity is to be valued and all are to have a voice to be listened to and respected. Now, I encourage everyone to search their own heart. As the saying goes, “no one can force me to change, but me.” Do we really have respect, compassion and empathy for our co-worker, our neighbors, and our community? Most of us recognize that we can do better. That starts with searching our hearts, acknowledging biases that we are aware of and striving to uncover unconscious ones, with the goal of treating everyone with dignity, respect and compassion.

To contact the MAF Employee Assistance Program Coordinator call Porter Pryor at 228-363-4910 or email porter.j.pryor@nasa.gov. See Porter Pryor’s previous messages on controlling COVID-19 stress and anxiety, the physical and emotional value of laughter, and the effects of mindfulness and exercise on the EAP section of the MAF Space website.

Additional Resources:

  • The MSFC ODEO office is an available resource to assist with communication across cultures, societal issues, and better understanding of implicit and unconscious bias to help us with having dialogue and conversations on those issues. They are also available by calling 256 541-6427.
  • NASA’s Office of the Chief Health and Medical Officer provides resources for mental health and coping.
  • Your NASA Center EAP office can provide confidential supportive counseling and help directing you to resources.
  • Learn about NASA’s Office of Diversity and Equal Opportunity, which leads diversity and civil rights policies, programs, and services – enabling the universe of available talent to contribute inclusively and equitably to NASA.

Tuesday, May 26 10:17 AM

A Message from your NASA MAF Employee Assistance Program Office and EAP Coordinator Porter Pryor:

 Laughter: a Pandemic Stress Resilience Builder

There is certainly nothing funny about this pandemic. Lives have been lost, families have been separated, and many our normal routines and activities have been turned upside down. However, the fact is that being able to find humor and laughter in small ways can bring balance to our emotions and interrupt our anxious thoughts. The benefits of laughter for our physical and emotional health are real. Laughter can relieve tension in our body and boost our immune system. Laughter can defuse anger and help us let go of resentment and strengthen relationships. If you need help finding reasons to smile try watching a funny TV show, read a funny book, or learn a new joke and tell it to a friend. Share fun memories with friends or family. Remind yourself to lighten up, and don’t dwell on the negative. Practice smiling and laughing more and you will feel less anxious, even if you are unable to change a stressful situation.

For expert tips on how to bring more humor into your life check out this link from the Help Guide: https://www.helpguide.org/articles/mental-health/laughter-is-the-best-medicine.htm

Your NASA Center EAP office can also provide confidential supportive counseling and help directing you to resources.

To contact the MAF Employee Assistance Program Coordinator call Porter Pryor at 228-363-4910 or email porter.j.pryor@nasa.gov

 

Tuesday, June 6 3:07 PM

A Message from your NASA MAF Employee Assistance Program Office and EAP Coordinator Porter Pryor:

“Deep Breathing, Guided Imagery, Progressive Muscle Relaxation, Meditation, and Mindfulness."

        Which one is best for you in controlling COVID-19 stress and anxiety?

The value of these simple relaxation techniques is often overlooked when anxious feelings related to anger, fear of the unknown, or routine stressors outside our control start to preoccupy our thoughts. In fact, incorporating these practices into our daily lives aid the body’s natural relaxation response by slowing breathing, lowering blood pressure, and increasing a sense of well-being. We need only a few minutes of practice a day to alter our neural pathways, which make us more resilient to stress. Deep breathing techniques, the basis for most of these exercises, can be used alone or in combination with more advanced techniques. Even better, these techniques are free, readily available, and can be done anywhere with minimal time required. One simple deep breathing exercise, the 4-7-8 method, only requires taking a deep breath through the nose over 4 seconds, holding it for 7 seconds and, releasing it slowly through the mouth over 8 seconds several times consecutively. Guided imagery, progressive muscle, meditation, mindfulness, yoga, and Tai chi are more advance techniques that incorporate deep breathing.

There are free apps and websites to help you try some of these techniques at home or in your office. A few are listed below:

Your NASA Center EAP office can also provide confidential supportive counseling and help directing you to resources.

To contact the MAF Employee Assistance Program Coordinator call Porter Pryor at 228-363-4910 or email porter.j.pryor@nasa.gov

 

Friday, May 15 4:02 PM

A Message from your NASA MAF Employee Assistance Program Office and EAP Coordinator Porter Pryor:

Benefits of Exercise on Physical and Emotional Health during COVID-19:

Many of us know the importance of exercise for overall health. Regular exercise can boost our immune system, improve lung function, lower blood pressure, reduce inflammation, and aid in weight control. In addition, exercise has additional benefits we may not realize such as reducing symptoms of depression, lowering anxiety levels, and boosting self-esteem. Unfortunately, exercise routines are often easy to give up or put off when our circumstances and situations change. Working from home with family disruptions and responsibilities, closed gyms or those with limited access; increased concern for safe social distancing; or putting the needs of others ahead of our own can all interfere with good intentions. Increased anxiety, depression, and isolation, which exercise can actually help, can also reduce the motivation to exercise.

If you have stopped exercising or have put off starting, take a look at the reasons for doing so. Are there medical reasons you should consult your physician about? Are you feeling overwhelmed and don’t know how or where to start? Have you just gotten out of the habit and can’t seem to get started again? Revisit the benefits you are missing for your own physical and mental well-being. Start back slowly by finding physical actives you enjoy like taking your partner, children, or your dog for a walk in the sunshine several times a week, bike riding around the neighborhood, planting a garden, or painting the porch. If you miss the gym, find group classes online. As you slowly increase the duration and frequency of these simple activities (which will get easier as you go), recognize and take pride in the improvement in your moods, feelings and attitudes.

For expert information on the benefits of exercise check out the following links:

The Mental Health Benefits of Exercise:

Exercise and Immunity:

Your NASA Center EAP office can also provide confidential supportive counseling and help directing you to resources.

To contact the MAF Employee Assistance Program Coordinator call Porter Pryor at 228-363-4910 or email porter.j.pryor@nasa.gov

 

Monday, May 5 5:34 PM

A Message from your NASA MAF Employee Assistance Program Office and EAP Coordinator Porter Pryor:

Volunteering in Your Community

Wanting to safely help your community during COVID-19 but don’t know where to start?

Volunteering is known to boost feelings of self-worth, self-acceptance and lesson depression. It helps us feel connected to our community by the fact that what we do matters. It can also reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness by taking the focus off our own problems. The media has done a good job of highlighting those who have come forward to help. Many more are wishing they could help but don’t know where to start.

The links below can point you to a variety of opportunities. Reputable community organizations will be following the latest CDC guideline to keep their volunteers as safe as possible. There are even opportunities to help from home.

https://volunteerlouisiana.gov/disaster-services;

https://www.unitedwaysela.org/volunteer

Your NASA Center EAP office can also provide confidential supportive counseling and help directing you to resources.

To contact the MAF Employee Assistance Program Coordinator call Porter Pryor at 228-363-4910 or email porter.j.pryor@nasa.gov

 

Monday, May 5 9:30 AM

A Message from your NASA MAF Employee Assistance Program Office and EAP Coordinator Porter Pryor:

The Importance of Routines and Schedules when Working from Home:

Consistency with routines and schedules can help us bring order to seemingly chaotic circumstances. It can help us reduce anxiety related to worries about stressors outside our control by focusing on things within our control. It can be as simple as going to bed and getting up at the same time, bathing and dressing as if we were going in to work (casual clothing ok), starting the day with a cup of coffee/tea or a nutritious breakfast, or starting and ending the work day at the same time when possible. You can plan breaks throughout your day that include fresh air and sunshine, and routines can even help with leisure time. Regular scheduled exercise and healthy food choices can reduce stress and improve overall health. For variety, plan different activities and meal choices on different days of the week.

Children also do better when they know what to expect and when. When possible, involve them in planning their day’s schedule in advance by giving them several choices of what to accomplish during school-work time, play time, and home chores.

Finally, realize that in these days of uncertainty, things don’t always go as planned. Working from home means distractions are going to happen (kids, partner, pets, unexpected household projects, work request). Accept that life may create occasional detours, and that’s okay. Start fresh tomorrow. As you adjust your routines and schedules for what works best for your family, a sense of order and control can prevail.

Advice from expert sources are listed below:

Your NASA Center EAP office can also provide confidential supportive counseling and help directing you to resources.

To contact the MAF Employee Assistance Program Coordinator call Porter Pryor at 228-363-4910 or email porter.j.pryor@nasa.gov

Wednesday, April 22 4:13 PM

A Message from your NASA MAF Employee Assistance Program Office and EAP Coordinator Porter Pryor:

Family Caregiver Support

Working full time and sharing care giving responsibilities for the elderly or the disabled can be challenging. For those who now have children at home due to school closures, even more challenges are created. In addition, travel restrictions for long distance caregivers complicate previously established routines. Remember to take care of yourself and ask for help. If you are a secondary caregiver or friend, then ask the primary caregiver how you can ease their load. There are resources that can help you navigate this daunting responsibility. Included below are some helpful links from trusted sources.

Care Giving:

Long Distance Care Giving:

Your NASA Center EAP office can also provide confidential supportive counseling and help directing you to resources.

To contact the MAF Employee Assistance Program Coordinator call Porter Pryor at 228-363-4910 or email porter.j.pryor@nasa.gov

 

Thursday, April 16 5:11 PM

A Message from your NASA MAF Employee Assistance Program Office and EAP Coordinator Porter Pryor:

Bereavement Following a Death during the COVID Pandemic:

The process of grieving can be difficult any time, but the complications of the COVID pandemic can make it especially hard. Being unable to be with a loved one before, during, or immediately after their death, being unable to practice common bereavement rituals like funerals and memorial services while surrounded by loved ones and friends, or mourning in isolation while being physically separated from others can complicate the process. In addition, feelings may include guilt over surviving while they did not. Feelings might also include anger at yourself, the institution caring for them, or even the deceased for putting themselves at risk. It is important to understand that these can be normal reactions in the aftermath of such traumatic events. Allowing yourself time to mourn, which is different for everyone, can help you move forward and heal. That includes having someone with which to acknowledge and process these feelings.

It is also important to be able to find positive moments with family and friends without guilt. Alternating between emotions of extreme sadness and positive ones is a healthy part of the healing process. Continue to stay connected to friends and family through phone calls, text or social media. Practice healthy behaviors such as exercise, getting enough rest, and healthy nutrition to help boost your immune system. Substitute exposure to negative media information with positive information.

Remember people are resilient and most will find a way to move forward after a loss.  Some people have more difficulty and will benefit from professional assistance in navigating the grief process. Remember, your physician, clergy, or company Employee Assistance professional are trained to support you and help you through this difficult time. Reach out to them when you need them.

For a more in-depth look at managing bereavement around COVID-19, view this resource from Columbia University: https://complicatedgrief.columbia.edu/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/Managing-Bereavement-Around-COVID-19-HSPH.pdf

Your NASA Center EAP office can provide confidential supportive counseling and help directing you to resources.

To contact the MAF Employee Assistance Program Coordinator call Porter Pryor at 228-363-4910 or email porter.j.pryor@nasa.gov
For more messages and information, visit https://mafspace.msfc.nasa.gov/employee-assistance-program/

 

Thusrday, April 9 10:03 AM

A Message from your NASA MAF Employee Assistance Program Office and EAP Coordinator Porter Pryor:

Dealing with Financial Concerns in Times of Uncertainty:

Has a family member become unemployed, reducing the family Income? Are you a financial caregiver for someone who is elderly or disabled? Is your family struggling with decisions on which bills to pay and which ones to skip? Many Institution are working with customers to delay payments or wave interest and late fees. It is important to reach out and communicate with them about your situation. Remember to be patient when attempting to contact them as they may be overwhelmed with request. For trusted advice and tips on how to handle these and other financial concerns visit the Consumer Federal Protection Bureau page: “Protecting Your Finances during the COVID Pandemic” at https://www.consumerfinance.gov/coronavirus/#consumer.

Your NASA Center EAP office can provide confidential supportive counseling and help directing you to resources.
To contact the MAF Employee Assistance Program Coordinator call Porter Pryor at 228-363-4910 or email porter.j.pryor@nasa.gov
For more messages and information, visit https://mafspace.msfc.nasa.gov/employee-assistance-program/

Tuesday, March 31 11:10 AM

A Message from your NASA MAF Employee Assistance Program Office and EAP Coordinator Porter Pryor:

Assistance for Parents: Keeping Kids Entertained and Educated at Home

Parents across America are gaining a new appreciation for their local educators. While schools may be providing online assignment for students to complete, finding additional ways to keep kids interested and occupied throughout the day can be challenging. Listed below is a variety of online links from The United States Department of Education website that can assist parents with new ideas to help their kids have fun while learning.

At Home Activities

Your NASA Center EAP office can also provide confidential supportive counseling and help directing you to resources.

To contact the MAF Employee Assistance Program Coordinator call Porter Pryor at 228-363-4910 or email porter.j.pryor@nasa.gov.

Thusrday, March 26 8:07 PM

A Message from your NASA MAF Employee Assistance Program Office and EAP Coordinator Porter Pryor:

Support for Employees and Family Members Dealing with Ongoing Mental Health Issues:

Stress over possible health and financial difficulties related to COVID 19 can trigger an increase in symptoms, or relapse from recovery efforts, of those with substance abuse disorders and other mental health conditions such as depression or anxiety. Isolation and lack of family support can also contribute to an increase of symptoms. It is important to know that most service providers (individual therapist and treatment centers) are adapting to provide services by phone and online platforms. In addition, there are many links to free online support groups and mental health information. A few will be provided below.

Your NASA Center EAP office can also provide confidential supportive counseling and help directing you to resources.

To contact the MAF Employee Assistance Program Coordinator call Porter Pryor at 228-363-4910 or online at porter.j.pryor@nasa.gov.

Substance Abuse Resources:
https://www.samhsa.gov/sites/default/files/virtual-recovery-resources.pdf
http://ncada-stl.org/find-help/

General Mental Health Resources:
https://www.samhsa.gov/find-help/national-helpline
https://www.ptsd.va.gov/covid/COVID19ManagingStress032020.pdf
https://www.every-mind.org/7493-2/
https://www.nami.org/
https://www.familyaware.org/

Domestic Violence Resource:
https://www.thehotline.org/help/

Suicide Resource:
https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

Caregivers Resources:
https://www.caregiver.org/
https://www.alz.org/