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Your Well-being

Work, grief and COVID

New York Teacher

As we begin a new school year, many of us are grieving the loss of people — colleagues, family members and friends — and the way things were prior to the pandemic. Students need extra support, too.

Things are different for the educators who returned to school buildings in September. Classrooms do not look the same. You will not look the same either, as you — and your students — will be wearing masks in class. A random sample of staff and students at each school will be asked to get tested monthly for COVID-19.

Your workplace routine will feel anything but usual. Schedules and daily routines have been adjusted to fit the needs of your school building. The pandemic has changed our everyday work life, how we teach and support students, and how we interact with one another.

The pandemic has also changed how we grieve. If you were unable to say goodbye to a loved one due to restrictions at hospitals and nursing homes, it can complicate your grief and leave you without a sense of closure.

The UFT’s Member Assistance Program (MAP) has been offering virtual grief support groups since April. These groups have been a way for school communities to start to heal and to honor and memorialize their lost colleagues.

Other ways to cope

  • Stay connected: Talk to friends, family and colleagues regularly through FaceTime, Zoom or other virtual platforms.
  • Use other online bereavement resources: Calvary Hospital provides free bereavement support groups via Zoom for adults, children and families.
  • Practice self-care: Yoga, meditation, light reading, watching comedies and walking outdoors are some of the activities you can employ.
  • Write down your feelings: Use journaling, poetry and other forms of written expression.
  • Acknowledge there is no time limit on grief: Be easy on yourself and ask for what you need.
  • Support one another: Help others in and out of the workplace, whether it’s in person or virtually.

Visit MAP online at to see the variety of support groups you can access, and email MAP at mapinfo@uft.org or call 212-701-9620 for more information. Visit the MAP resource page to find available referrals and resources.

Member Assistance Program

The UFT's Member Assistance Program (MAP) has trained professional counselors who can guide you through the problems that can affect your mental health and potentially put your job in jeopardy. Our services are free, confidential, professional and voluntary.

As a UFT member, you may receive short-term counseling with a trained licensed mental health professional through MAP. Additionally, we have an on-staff psychiatrist who assesses and provides support to our members.

If you would like to set up an appointment with a counselor, receive a referral for outside mental health resources or learn how MAP can support you, please contact us at 212-701-9620 or via email at mapinfo@uft.org.

New: Follow the Member Assistance Program on Instagram at @UFTMAP!

MAP services

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Managing Stress & Trauma Recovery Education

This six-week workshop teaches members how to effectively manage stress, ease anxiety & relieve emotions tied to past trauma to feel less overwhelmed in their work and home life.

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Support groups

MAP offers various virtual support groups where members can come together to share their experiences, learn new ways to cope, and find comfort with each other.

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Substance Use & Addictive Behaviors

Are you or is someone close to you affected by substance use or addictive behaviors? MAP offers various types of support and referrals for members and their families.

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MAP CAREline

The UFT's MAP CAREline offers an empathetic ear and referrals to additional services if you have been struggling with uncertainty and anxiety. 

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Continuing Education courses for social workers

MAP is a NYSED accredited provider of CEUs for social workers (LMSW/LCSW). Throughout the school year, we offer several CEU workshops on relevant and interesting topics.

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New members

In collaboration with the New Member Department, MAP offers various programs to support our new members in their first years.

Self-care Resources

The UFT Member Assistance Program understands that time is precious, which is why we have compiled a list of self-care resources that you can utilize when the time is right for you. 

Q&A on the Member Assistance Program

What kinds of issues can MAP help me address?

  • Find mental health services to fit your needs
  • Assess for and refer to appropriate substance abuse programs
  • Help with marital or family relationship problems
  • Arrange assistance for victims of domestic violence
  • Offer referrals to legal or credit counseling services
  • Provide trauma and bereavement support
  • Suggest treatment referrals for eating disorders
  • Provide support during times of crisis

What services can I receive?

  • Short-term individual counseling provided by professionally trained and licensed counselors in our offices for a variety of concerns members may have, from marital or family problems to stress or workplace issues or alcohol and drug addiction
  • Short-term support groups 
  • Assistance with referrals to outside services 

What happens in a counseling session?

A counseling session is a confidential meeting between you and a MAP mental health professional to discuss your concern and figure out how best to resolve it.

Will there be any costs?

The Member Assistance Program is available free of charge to all UFT members. Your insurance plan may cover services for additional resources or referrals. For more information on mental health care benefits covered through your insurance, please call the UFT Welfare Fund at 212-539-0660.

How do I contact the Member Assistance Program?

Please call our office at 212-701-9620. Your call will be returned within one to two business days.

When and where are services provided?

MAP counselors are available for appointments Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Please note we cannot accommodate “walk-in” members without a scheduled appointment.

Please note: If you are experiencing an emergency, please call 911 or 1-800-LIFENET (a 24-hour confidential and free mental health crisis hotline).

Our offices are at 50 Broadway, suite 904, a separate location next to the UFT headquarters.