Take advantage of these opportunities to stay healthy

Flu shot

Center for Survey Statistics and Methodology information technology senior manager Alan Dotts receives his flu shot from licensed practical nurse Beverley Jones on Monday. The flu vaccine clinic for employees, one example of a free, proactive strategy for staying healthy, continues through Oct. 20 (weekdays 9 a.m.-4 p.m.) in 1218 State Gym (Fitness Studio Room). Enter through the building's south doors. Photo by Christopher Gannon.

One way to limit the impact of changes to the university's health care plan in 2024 is for employees to prioritize self-care and make use of available resources. Every employee's situation differs, and significant changes may not be possible for everyone, but ISU WellBeing coordinator Stephanie Downs suggests beginning with the Adventure2 self-assessment.


For more information on resources offered by ISU WellBeing or Adventure2, email wellbeing@iastate.edu.

"The assessment covers a lot of areas including work stress, finances, preventive medicine and a broad range of well-being," she said. "It's important to get an assessment about where you really are. It's a great way to look at yourself and see where you are doing well and where you might be able to make improvements. There is a change coming in the next few months and it is a significant one, so this is a good time to elevate your self-care."

One of the keys to adjusting to any kind of change is to set structured goals, Downs said. Make sure goals make sense and are something you can realistically follow through on.

"Start small, stay with it, have ways to track it, but be aware just because it works for one person, it may not work for you," she said. "Some things seem basic, but it can be as simple as making sure we are getting enough sleep. That is one thing as a campus we tend to neglect."

Start with preventive care

Downs urges employees to take time leading up to Jan. 1 to review an expanding list of preventive health services authorized by the federal Affordable Care Act of 2010. Services on the list will be fully covered without a copay or coinsurance in both the HMO and PPO plans. Starting in 2024, even the office copay is waived on these services, which include annual wellness exams, immunizations and many kinds of health and mental health screenings.

"Personal responsibility to make sure you are taking advantage of the appropriate screenings is important. Those screenings help catch things earlier when it is easier to treat," Downs said.

Mental health

Many factors contribute to our mental health. Employees who want to talk to a professional have that option – over the phone, virtually or in person. The Employee Assistance Program provides professional clinicians who are available 24/7/365 at no cost.

"If you are overwhelmed or angry or frustrated, it is a great place to vent and get some of that emotion out," Downs said. "It's a safe place that can help us work through the issue."

Employee and family resources counselors are available to employees through appointments scheduled by calling 800-327-4692. Online options include therapy assistance online, which offers an online self-care option that helps users develop important skills. Workday Learning also has several mental health trainings available by logging into Workday and searching "Mental Well-Being for Faculty and Staff."

ISU WellBeing also maintains a comprehensive list of mental health resources, ranging from on campus to throughout the nation.

Financial health

Employees may have more expenses associated with their health care, but planning ahead a bit can minimize the impact on a budget.

ALEX is a virtual counselor that can help faculty and staff navigate Iowa State's employee benefits options as they consider their choices. The free tool is an interactive guide that explains how benefits work, analyzes the pros and cons of different offerings, asks questions that can help inform choices and proposes personalized suggestions for what benefits to select. 

Blue 365, a Wellmark program, offers discounts on a broad spectrum of health and wellness items such as fitness memberships, footwear, mindfulness e-subscriptions and food items.

ISU Extension and Outreach conducts financial wellness workshops twice a year as part of the financial wellness at work program. The fall virtual workshop series (noon-1 p.m., registration required) has begun. Extension also provides the website and blog Spend Smart. Eat Smart., which has tools for eating healthy on a budget and smart food shopping.

Adventure2 also has several helpful tools focused on budgeting and financial well-being. Users can search in "Explore Activities" by topic and select financial well-being activities.