October 26, 2020
Dear Harvard Community Members, Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, you have heard from the University’s leadership, and from your Schools and units, about resources meant to help you and your family to cope with the challenges of studying and working from home while maintaining your physical and emotional health. For many in our community, increased stress and anxiety have appeared along with the rising impact of COVID-19, uncertainties surrounding the upcoming election, and heightened public dialogue on a range of issues relating to social and racial justice. With that in mind, we want to share information on resources that remain in place for our community members as we all continue to navigate these unprecedented times.
Health and Wellbeing of our Community
Throughout the shift to a predominantly remote campus, Harvard has continued to care for the mental health of its community members through remote care. Please explore the many resources below based on your affiliation.
All Harvard Community Members:
- Free virtual resources from the Center for Wellness and Health Promotion include online yoga, movement, and mindfulness classes to help you soothe your body and mind.
- Socialize Remotely from the Office of the Vice Provost for Advances in Learning serves as a social outlet, listing online activities across the University.
- Harvard Moves: 5K Your Way is a virtual event coming in November hosted by the Harvard Alumni Association and the Harvard College Fund that will bring together our community in the spirit of wellness.
- Counseling and Mental Health Services (CAMHS) provides care exclusively to students in the form of individual remote visits and group therapy, no matter where you may be living during the pandemic. Check out their many virtual workshops and groups here.
- The Office of Alcohol & Other Drug Services offers remote one-on-one services for students.
Harvard Faculty, Staff, and Retirees:
- The Employee Assistance Program (EAP) offers free, confidential help for all Harvard employees and their adult household members. You can reach the EAP any time for personal or work-related concerns at 877-EAP-HARV (877-327-4278) or by visiting the EAP online.
- The new Kinda Guide offers support for parents managing schooling – whether it is in-person, remote, or hybrid – and for many other aspects of parenting in a pandemic.
- The Resilience, Recovery, and Renewal initiative from Harvard Human Resources provides training, consulting, coaching, tip sheets, and toolkits to support all University employees during the pandemic, and other crises, both individually and organizationally. This initiative also includes guidance for managers around engaging employees in difficult circumstances.
- HUHS Behavioral Health provides counseling to Harvard affiliates covered by Medicare or the Harvard University Group Health Plan (HUGHP).
- Faculty, staff, and retirees have access to comprehensive behavioral health care through our insurance plans: HUGHP (and the HUHS Behavioral Health Department, which provides counseling); and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts and its extensive network of qualified providers.
Continued Commitment to Health and Safety Measures
The COVID-19 pandemic remains an unpredictable challenge. In recent days we’ve seen positivity rates rise in our surrounding communities and across Massachusetts. The protocols and procedures we have put in place over the last several months to help monitor and manage the presence of the virus on our campus have helped us keep positive cases within our community relatively low. We thank you for your commitment to these measures. However, we must not get complacent; we must keep doing our best to combat the virus across our community. This means diligent use of face coverings and physical distancing both on and off campus.
We encourage you to once again review information on protocols and healthy habits that can help keep yourself, friends, family, and our community healthy.
- Wear face coverings consistently, covering both nose and mouth.
- Keep physical distance at all times when you’re outside of your household.
- Participate fully if you receive outreach from contact tracing professionals.
- Adhere to viral testing, if advised by your school/unit.
- Limit the number of people with whom you eat, drink, or have close contact.
- Get your flu shot now.
Engaging in Community Dialogue
One of the things we value within our Harvard community is the opportunity for civil and respectful dialogue. This evening, the Harvard Office of Diversity Inclusion and Belonging will launch its Community Dialogue Series, with a conversation with former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick on “Leading During Polarizing Times.” The Office has also scheduled a number of Community Spaces conversation and dialogue opportunities in the coming weeks. We hope you can take advantage of some of these events to connect with other community members.
It has been nearly eight months since Harvard had to make the unprecedented decision to move most learning and operations remote due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While we have all continued to adapt, it goes without saying that many of us remain deeply burdened by the ongoing realities of remote work, online study, and childcare, as well as by rising COVID-19 infections and a divisive election season. You are not alone in feeling the stress of an uncertain time. Please take advantage of the multitude of opportunities and professionals here to help support your emotional and physical wellbeing, and continue to treat one another with kindness and consideration. We wish you health and safety as we approach November.
Marilyn Hausammann, Vice President for Human Resources
Giang T. Nguyen, MD, Executive Director, Harvard University Health Services