“You cannot pour from an empty cup. If you end up using all your emotional resources on others, you will end up having nothing left for yourself. You also will have nothing left for others,”
Dr. Darryl Huels, Uprise Health Clinical Team Manager          

Connecting to Care Changes Lives Series 

The collaboration between clinicians and coaches is powerful. Together they provide integrated care and a holistic understanding of health plus link us to a wide range of different health practitioners and resources. Clinicians identify and educate “why” certain physical and mental health conditions exist. Clinicians also teach us about our medical assessments and medications. Clinicians sometimes team with a mental health coach who will work on “how” to engage and equip people with skills, tools, and confidence to become active participants in their care so that they can reach their self-identified mental and physical health goals.  

This is the second in a series with Uprise Health’s Clinicians and mental health coaches discussing their roles, skills, and viewpoints. In the first of the series, we introduced a few of our behavioral and mental health coaches and clinicians, who shared tips for how to start the new year with healthy habits. In this and the next few blogs in the series, Uprise Health clinicians and mental health coaches explore their role in creating a world where mental and physical healthcare is delivered with skill, patience, kindness, and empathy. Innovation in care and digital resources are highlighted as Uprise Health develops new ways to access care and provide services.

In this Uprise Health Connecting to Care Changes Lives blog, we had the opportunity to speak with the EAP Clinical Team Manager at Uprise Health, Dr. Darryl Huels. Darryl shares his insights as a leader in managing our clinical care team. His work with our members and colleagues is significant because it provides them with support and connects them with important services at time when they are most in need.

Darryl Huels worked with the Clinical Team at Uprise Health for 8 ½ years. He holds a BS and MS in Social Work, and a PhD in Human Services. Darryl is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) in California and New York. He worked in Human Services for 30 plus years, including a nursing home, hospital, domestic violence agency, group homes for developmentally disabled, senior counselor in a residential rehab for severe mental illness and addiction. Darryl was a Senior Counselor at New York College and a professor at Empire State College, Alfred State College and Kaplan College. Darryl provided psychotherapy to individuals, couples, and families when he had a private practice.

What makes you passionate about what you do?

“I believe that EAPs provide a unique service that has been able to assist in filling a major gap in the mental health field. The EAP provides mental health solutions and services to individuals and families who may not qualify for more traditional mental health benefits. For example, many mental health benefits do not cover issues without a diagnosis, such as marriage counselling, where the EAP does. We treat the whole human being and are acutely aware of, and attempt to assist in, helping people with other issues that affect their mental health. This would include such areas as financial, legal, childcare, and eldercare problems, along with others. As a result, our phone calls are very diverse and take many different directions, which makes the job very interesting.”

What does your day to day look like?

“For the typical Clinical Care Manager at Uprise Health, the day consists of taking phone calls from employees, employers, providers, and others. Most of the calls are from employees looking for counselling and/or other assistance with managing their work/life balance. We ask them about what led them to call us. Their answer will guide the rest of the conversation. Often, it is for the purpose of getting a referral for counselling. Reasons could include feeling depressed, anxiety, loss of a loved one or a pet, or having difficulties with a co-worker. Some people think that the EAP is only for work related issues, but that is not true. The call could also be for something as simple as the need to discuss career or education decisions, or the desire of a couple to speak to someone prior to their upcoming marriage. We ask questions to assess their situation and to make sure that we connect them with counselors or other resources that will meet their needs.

There are also calls for immediate support. They may be in the middle of a panic attack or feeling especially depressed. We may aid with stress management and other mental health solutions focused tools or connecting them to a counsellor, emergency, or other appropriate services.  There are a variety of other reasons that employees call. The most common include calls for legal assistance and financial assistance. Other calls involve finding childcare, eldercare, transportation, moving, schools, pet care or other community resources.

We consult with HR and managers for assistance with employee issues, critical incidents (related to violence, deaths, natural disasters, etc.) We speak with people in other roles like law enforcement, fire departments, and make connections with other resources. Clinical Care Managers may go onsite to provide trainings and support.”

How has your work contributed to how you think about mental health?

“I have come to see mental health in a totally different light. There has been a tendency to generally look at the field with dichotomous lenses: mental illness vs. mental health or the mentally ill verses the mentally well. While that may serve a purpose, it is also critical that we see the true continuum of mental health awareness.

Many people have mental health problems that cannot be categorized as either mentally ill or mentally healthy. I believe nobody is totally perfect in their mental health, and, conversely, you could be worse off. The group of people who don’t have a typical psychiatric diagnosis, but still need help, is a very large number. These people have fallen between the cracks. EAPs are one of the few options for these people.”

What is your vision for the future of mental health care?

“It is vital that mental health care stays up to date with modern times. We live in a new era where smart phones, social media and the internet are everywhere. The mental health field has been somewhat resistant to respond to these changes, although many people prefer and are aware of the advantages that exist in using technology in mental health.

Uprise Health has been involved and is constantly moving forward to meet those demands. We have been developing new ways to access care and new ways of providing services with chat bot, online peer support groups, chat coaching, telephonic coaching, telephonic counselling, and virtual counselling. Mental health care has no choice but to embrace the fact that the old traditional ways of providing services are no longer enough. We will continue to see the mental health solutions become more immersed in our technological world.”

With the skills you’ve learned on the job, and the experiences you’ve had in it, what is one thing you would recommend family, friends and everyone incorporate into their daily routine for optimized mental health in the New Year? 

“We’re coming out of the holiday season. The holidays can be both an exciting and stressful time. Working for an EAP, we see the effects that this time of the year can have on us. There is an increase in calls from people experiencing holiday “blues,” stress, family problems, grief, and other struggles. During the holidays, we tend to be even more focused on all the things that we must do, the people we must see and take care of, and the money that we must spend, etc. We are so focused on everything and everyone else that we neglect to take care of ourselves.

I have learned through my work how difficult this is for people to do. You cannot pour from an empty cup. If you end up using all your emotional resources on others, you will end up having nothing left for yourself. You also will have nothing left for others.

As you head into the New Year, focus on self care. This does not require an elaborate plan; self-care can be as simple as taking a deep breath when you notice you are becoming stressed, taking a walk, having good sleep habits to name a few. When I take care of myself, I am a better husband, a better father, a better son, a better coworker, and a better friend!”

Keep an eye out for the next installment in our series with the Uprise Health mental health coaches and clinicians. In the meantime, you can learn more about our mental health solutions.