16:00 PM

CareATC: Mental Health Services


By Jean Yaeger

In a 2021 survey by the American Psychological Association, 75% of essential workers, including health care personnel, said they needed more emotional support than they received during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“We experience burnout and we experience compassion fatigue. And then we have the complications of having a workforce that has been severely hampered by COVID and by other challenges as the workforce changes,” said Alicia Hooper, a licensed clinical social worker at the CareATC site at 500 S. Henderson St., near Cook Children’s Medical Center.

In an effort to prioritize mental health, Cook Children’s provides each employee with up to six free counseling sessions per year, per issue (such as depression or anxiety) per year. Alicia offers counseling for employees and their dependents ages 12 and older, as well as couples therapy.

She urges Cook Children’s staff members to utilize this benefit to recharge their mood and learn some healthy coping techniques. It's not a sign of weakness to seek out therapy that supports mental well-being, she pointed out. Alicia uses a collaborative approach that catalogs the strengths of her clients and focuses on specific solutions to the struggles they face.  

“It's not about me telling you what to do,” she said. “It's asking the right question that helps you remember the processes in your life that have been helpful, and identifying those processes that haven't been helpful. From there we create a framework for moving forward with intention." 

What sorts of issues come up in 50-minute therapy sessions? Every topic from school shootings and mass violence to the tension and fear of COVID-19 disruptions. Other topics might include home and work relationships, loss, motivation, and life transitions. Alicia is a listener who wants to help her clients unpack how their mood is impacting their personal and professional lives and their sleep and eating routines. She finds it gratifying to serve health care professionals.

“I really enjoy working with first responders, with individuals who have been on the frontline. I like the idea of being the helper for the helpers,” Alicia said. “I would say that I'm a fairly hopeful person. I believe that people can change and that every day people have the ability to make new choices that reflect their values and their needs in intentional, mindful ways.”

Even though cost and location can often be barriers to appropriate mental health care, Cook Children’s has made this benefit accessible for our employees by providing a nearby and comfortable private setting at the CareATC Fort Worth-Henderson clinic. Alicia adds: “And really, it’s free. Why not try it?” 

Alicia’s in-person hours are Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Tuesdays and Fridays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Schedule an appointment by calling the EAP main phone number, 1-800-395-1616, to get started with an employee profile. The wait time to be seen is normally two to three weeks.