UNIVERSITY PARK — Penn State employees still struggling to cope with a difficult past few months had somewhere to turn Wednesday.
Employee health sessions offered by the university, and scheduled again for today, focused on stress and emotional issues stemming from the Jerry Sandusky scandal and its wake.
Burt Alicea, one of the certified employee assistance professionals leading the sessions, said the aim is to offer techniques for dealing with “what constitutes as a traumatic event.”
“It’s being held to give them information and coping skills and to let them know that the emotions they are feeling are normal reactions to abnormal events,” Alicea said in a release.
Alicea is vice president of Health Advocate, which administers Penn State’s employee assistance program.
Penn State spokeswoman Lisa Powers said the university pays $1.43 per employee per month for those services. As part of that contract, a number of “critical incident stress debriefings” hours are offered after traumatic situations.
Health Advocate held 90-minute seminars at various locations on campus throughout Wednesday, and will continue to do so today.
Penn State officials said they hope to reach as many employees as possible through the programs.
“Our employees are a critical part of Penn State, and their health and well-being are important to our university community,” Susan Basso, associate vice president for human resources said in a release.
Basso said some employees are still dealing with stress and other emotional health related issues.
The university, she said, is encouraging those individuals to come to a session, even if they feel they can deal on their own.
“There is a great advantage to group discussions, which allow not only individuals, but the community as a whole, to share potential coping strategies,” Basso said.
The sessions, which are not open to the public, will remain confidential. Several employees exiting a meeting Wednesday declined to comment.
University officials said Penn State’s Office of Student Affairs has also released resources for students who may be struggling. More information can be found at the university’s student affairs website.
Matt Carroll can be reached at 231-4631. Follow him on Twitter @Carrollreporter