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Mental Health Issues & Employee Assistance Program
November 20, 2007, Volume 54, No. 13


At the November 14 University Council meeting, after the presentation by Provost Ron Daniels on the State of the University, there was a discussion of mental health issues and services available on campus to deal with them.

The first to present was Dr. Ilene Rosenstein, director of Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS). She discussed how Penn responds to mental health emergencies, noting that it is not uncommon for CAPS to deal with several such emergencies almost daily. There are also others on campus who intervene as well, in certain circumstances, including Patricia Brennan at Special Services in Public Safety and Sharon Smith at Student Intervention Services. However, Dr. Rosenstein noted that 95 percent of the cases handled by CAPS—a department of University Life that offers free and confidential professional services to undergraduate, graduate and professional students—are routine, and not emergency situations. Dr. Rosenstein said that prevention is the key to avoiding such emergencies. She gave Council members two brochures: one is a guide for Penn Students—How to Help a Friend; the other is a guide for Faculty and Staff—What Can I Do? Helping a Student in Distress.

CAPS can be reached at (215) 898-7333 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. and after hours there is a clinician on call at (215) 349-5490.

“Say Something”

Dr. Stephanie Ives, director of Strategic Initiatives, VPUL, spoke about the DART (Drug and Alcohol Resource Team) “Say Something” student leader training program Interventions for High–Risk Behaviors, designed to increase student engagement in primary prevention, to reduce student tolerance of high-risk behaviors among their peers and to intervene in an effort to persuade friends to seek help. This program resulted from a University-wide review of the Alcohol Policy in spring 2005. Dr. Ives said that all recognized student organizations must have two members participate in a one-hour training session to identify high-risk substance use among peers and engage in a conversation to provide appropriate campus referrals. For the past three years, about 500 students have been trained in the “Say Something” program each fall. It has been expanded to include issues of mental health, exercise and eating issues, and sexual health issues, in addition to the core curriculum of alcohol and other drug abuse. Her office collaborates with CAPS and with the Mental Health Coalition. The time to “Say Something” can be as soon as the problem is relatively mild, or even if it is moderate or severe. She said that her office is investigating potential revisions to make it appropriate for graduate and professional students. The program is accessible online at www.saysomethingatpenn.org.

Employee Assistance Program

Marilyn Kraut, director of Quality of Worklife Programs, Human Resources, discussed the services available to full- and part-time faculty and staff and their immediate family members through Penn’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP). The EAP is free and confidential, with one-on-one therapy with licensed professional therapists and practitioners, either on campus or in one of the network offices throughout the tri-state area. Their help is available for short-term behavioral health issues 24/7 at 1-888-321-4433. Faculty and staff can call the EAP for stress about life changes, personal life challenges, loss and bereavement, addiction and substance abuse issues or general anxiety or depression. Penn’s EAP provides managers and supervisors with workplace support for disruptive behavior, possible substance abuse by staff, workplace incidents, or death of a colleague. They can provide suggestions on how to approach staff constructively. They work in collaboration with Human Resources, CAPS and Public Safety. Ms. Kraut said that approximately five percent of Penn’s faculty and staff use these services per year, with the majority attending informational sessions on well-being and behavioral health.

President Amy Gutmann urged the UA, the Council members and others to spread the word of the availability of all these services.

Click here for the State of the University: Report of the Provost.

Almanac - November 20, 2007, Volume 54, No. 13