SRU devotes Oct. 7 Professional Development Day to mental health awareness


SRU devotes Oct. 7 Professional Development Day to mental health awareness

Slippery Rock University’s Office of Emergency Management is hosting its second annual Professional Development Day, Oct. 7. This year’s focus is mental health.

Sept. 25, 2019

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. — Detecting issues related to mental health can be as tricky as measuring the size of an iceberg — there's always more beneath the surface. To help employees prepare and possibly prevent mental health crises before they occur, Slippery Rock University is devoting its Oct. 7 Professional Development Day for faculty and staff to exploring mental health issues. The program runs from 8:10 a.m. to 4:15 p.m., in the Smith Student Center Ballroom.

"Slippery Rock University puts the health and safety of the campus community at the forefront, so it is important to have these programs in order to meet not only the needs of our students, faculty and staff, but to be prepared as best as we can to address any potential situation," said Paul Novak, executive director of planning and environmental health and safety. "It's clear that mental health issues are top of mind right now. This program will give attendees baseline information and guidance regarding mental health issues and how to best respond to individuals who may be having a difficult time. We need to know how to properly and safely intervene with a situation before it escalates."

The Professional Development Day will include four presentations and a panel discussion.

Marsha Wagner, the prevention, education and outreach coordinator at the Center for Community Resources in Butler, is the program keynote and will present "Mental Health Toolkit for College Students." Wagner, '96, '00M, who graduated from SRU with a master's degree in counseling psychology, will share her expertise from more than 25 years of working in the field of mental health and substance abuse. She will share with attendees how to identify people who may be having a mental health crisis and detect symptoms of depression, anxiety and suicidal tendencies. She'll also share three steps anyone can take to help prevent a suicide.

SRU's Behavioral Intervention Team, which consists of 12 University employees in areas related to student support and mental health response, will conduct a panel discussion to provide a general overview of the team and answer questions.

Mark Peffer, chief deputy from the Butler County Sheriff's Office, and Rich Wozniak, an expert in criminal justice, mental health from the Center for Community Resources, will present "De-escalation: Skills Toward a Safe Resolution." Their presentation will teach attendees how to recognize the indicators of a person in crisis and use de-escalation skills and methods in order to come to a safe resolution.

Bobbi Lawrence, a licensed social worker from the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services will present, "Vicarious Trauma: Taking Care of Yourself So You Can Help Others," to teach attendees how to recognize common signs and symptoms of vicarious trauma, which can occur when professionals attempt to connect with their clients/victims, resulting in their own emotional disturbances.

Windy Stafford, SRU's assistant director of emergency management, coordinated the event.

Faculty and staff can register by clicking here. Lunch is included with the registration. For more information about the OEM's Professional Development Day, click here.

MEDIA CONTACT: Justin Zackal | 724.738.4854 |