The Office for Professional Mental Health is designed to meet the needs of Penn State College of Medicine professionals with compassion, honesty and confidentiality. All issues are taken seriously – no problem is “too small” to talk about.
The office is now offering a wide range of virtual services. See details here.
Training and working in the area of health care is one of the most gratifying career paths; however, life as a health care provider can add significant amounts of distress during a crisis such as COVID-19. During these times, individuals may find it helpful to have additional support and encouragement. The office is available to provide assistance and guidance to achieve academic and professional success. See COVID-19 self-care tips here.
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Commitment to Social Justice
There can never be enough voices in support of empathy or too many speaking out against hatred, bigotry and racism.
The Office of Professional Mental Health believes in the collective power of social justice and stand with those, including Penn State College of Medicine students, residents, physicians and faculty, who have been oppressed, marginalized and misunderstood.
The Office for Professional Mental Health remains a space of hope and healing for all in need.
Email the office to join the Allyship Support Group:
Help in mental health emergencies
Office of Professional Mental Health providers work on an appointment basis, but in most instances, providers should be able to respond to a mental health emergency during business hours. If a particularly urgent situation (suicidal thoughts, assault, extreme panic) presents itself during these hours, contact the office and indicate the need for immediate attention. The office will then make every effort to respond promptly.
24/7/365 options for crisis situations include:
- Penn State Crisis Line: 877-229-6400
- Crisis Text Line: Text “LIONS” to 741-741
- Dauphin County Crisis Intervention: 717-232-7511
- YWCA/Rape Crisis and Domestic Violence Services: 717-238-7273
- TrevorLifeline for LGBTQ Youth: 1-866-488-7386
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-8255
- Veterans’ Crisis Line: 800-273-8255
- Physician Support Line: 888-409-0141 and physiciansupportline.com
The Penn State Crisis Line is an extension of the services offered by the Office of Professional Mental Health. Reports from calls made to this crisis line are received by the office.
Red Folder Guide
The “Red Folder” guide was produced by Penn State’s Student Affairs/Counseling and Psychological Services and Commonwealth Fee Board, and updated with Hershey-specific information by the Office for Professional Mental Health at Penn State College of Medicine.
The folder is a quick-reference guide to help faculty, staff and students recognize, respond to and refer to those in distress, especially students.
Mental Health and Counseling Services
The Office for Professional Mental Health provides counseling services free of charge to the following groups:
- College of Medicine graduate, MD and PA students
- Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center medical residents and fellows
- Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center physicians
- College of Medicine faculty
Appointments are scheduled and based on counselor availability. Counselors offer flexible appointment times, which include evening availability. The office encourages everyone to come in and talk, even if they are not sure that counseling is what they need. During the initial meeting, participants will develop a course of action with their counselor.
In addition to students on campus in Hershey, services are also available to Penn State College of Medicine MD students enrolled in the University Park Curriculum. Students in the University Park Curriculum may access services from providers by coming to the Hershey campus and/or making appointments when members of the Office for Professional Mental Health visit University Park for outreach programing. After an initial intake, teletherapy services may be used by these students. Additionally, students at University Park may make use of the Counseling and Psychological Services at University Park.
When referrals are made to mental health providers outside of the Office for Professional Mental Health, these service are normally covered under the provision of the student or employee’s health insurance policy.
There are many concerns that may lead someone to seek support from the Office of Professional Mental Health:
- Mood disorders, such as depression and bipolar disorder
- Adjustment to the College of Medicine (medical school)
- Interpersonal/relationship difficulties
- Personal or family crisis
- Grief and loss
- Academic performance and motivation
- Personal growth and development
- Anger problems
- Identity development and issues related to diversity
- Spirituality concerns
- Eating behaviors and body image
- Alcohol and substance use concerns, relapse prevention
Providers within the Office for Professional Mental Health strive to uphold strict confidentiality. As such, all information shared during counseling is confidential. No one outside of the office may have access to the specifics of sessions without the written consent of students, except in situations where there is a threat or danger to life. Records are not a part of the student’s academic file.
The most common clinical services in the Office for Professional Mental Health include:
- Individual counseling
- Couples counseling
- Psychiatric evaluation and medication management
- Brief case management (providing referrals to other agencies and assisting with accessing resources in the community)
Short-term, goal-directed counseling is available to all whose concerns that fall within the Office for Professional Mental Health’s scope of practice. The majority of clients will finish their individual counseling within 16 sessions or less. In the rare instances in which longer-term services are needed, the Office for Professional Mental Health must be able to accommodate the current demand. No formal limit of services is set, and those seeking services will receive appointments, referrals and consultation based on student need and service availability.
There are many benefits to counseling, including improved relationships with friends and family, better ability to manage stress, and increased academic success.
Psychiatric evaluation and medication management is provided primarily by Dr. Martha Peaslee Levine. These services are available to the following groups:
- College of Medicine graduate, MD and PA students
- Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center medical residents and fellows
Those learners who are unable to meet with Dr. Levine because of her role in their education and are in need of psychiatric services will be referred to Pennsylvania Psychiatric Institute (PPI) Division Street Clinic. Psychiatric providers at this location are not involved in education and will not create educational conflicts for students or trainees.
The Office for Professional Mental Health strives to provide as many clinical services as possible. However, because some services take tremendous personnel resources, present a conflict of interest, are beyond the scope of the group’s mission or require specialization, there are some services not provided, including:
- Services to alumni
- Services to students enrolled at Penn State’s Commonwealth Campuses or World Campus
- Clinical services to staff
- Specialty care
- Intensive substance-abuse treatment
- Intensive outpatient treatment
- Testing for learning disabilities and/or attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder
- Assessment and documentation for service or emotional support animals
- Forensic evaluations
- Neuropsychological evaluations
- Court-ordered treatment or treatment that is the stipulation of probation
- Fitness for Duty evaluations required by the Academic Progress Committee or other College of Medicine/Hershey Medical Center entity
- Evaluations for attorneys or courts related to difficulties such as alcohol infractions (e.g., driving under the influence) or other domestic matters such as parents seeking custodial authority of a student
- Services to those who are not medically stable or require intensive medical treatment
- Services to those with a desire to be seen more frequently than the Office for Professional Mental Health resources can provide (e.g., more than weekly), or on a long-term basis
- Services to those for whom a short-term treatment model (e.g., up to 16 sessions) would be detrimental or inappropriate to the diagnosis or clinical issues
- Services for those who needs fall outside of the clinical expertise of Office for Professional Mental Health staff
- Services for those who engage in inappropriate, harassing, menacing, threatening or violent behaviors toward Office for Professional Mental Health staff
All students, residents/fellows, physicians, and faculty seeking services will receive an initial appointment. Additional appointments (extended assessment, second opinion, etc.) may be needed to determine the appropriateness of services. After the assessment is concluded, a decision will be made about whether or not the needs fall within the role and scope of the Office for Professional Mental Health. If a need does not fall within the role and scope of the Office for Professional Mental Health, the office will work with the person requesting support to help them access necessary resources within the community.
The Office of Professional Mental Health is working primarily remotely due to COVID-19 but is still available.
Virtual service overview
- Services are offered via telephone and Zoom.
- Contact a provider to schedule an appointment.
PMH staff can join your group for Zoom-based education, training or discussion. Please contact us via email with your request.
Drop-In Support Options
- PSU Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) at University Park is offering a twice-daily drop-in support opportunity for all Penn State students at all campuses in its “Virtual Life Hacks” series. These run weekdays at 10 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. for one hour, and include a 20- to 25-minute presentation about transitions, stress management and coping skills associated with COVID-19, and small-group discussions. It is designed for all students, both undergrad and graduate, and run by CAPS staff. This is not a therapy group. See details here.
Additional Penn State resources
Other Services and Resources
(Adapted from https://emergency.cdc.gov/coping/selfcare.asp)
Take care of your body
Try to eat healthy well-balanced meals, exercise regularly and get plenty of sleep. Avoid alcohol, tobacco and other drugs.
Connect with others
Share your concerns and how you are feeling with a friend or family member. Maintain healthy relationships and build a strong support system.
Make time to unwind and remind yourself that strong feelings will fade. Try taking deep breaths. Try to do activities you usually enjoy.
When you feel that you are missing information, you may become more stressed or nervous. Watch, listen to or read the news for updates from officials. Be aware that there may be rumors during a crisis, especially on social media. Always check your sources and turn to reliable sources of information like your local government authorities.
Avoid too much exposure to news
Take breaks from watching, reading or listening to news stories. It can be upsetting to hear about the crisis and see images repeatedly. Try to do enjoyable activities and return to normal life as much as possible, and check for updates in breaks.
Seek help when needed
If distress impacts activities of your daily life for several days or weeks, talk to a clergy member counselor, a doctor or contact the SAMHSA helpline at 800-985-5990.
- Shine & Mental Health America resources created for this situation: https://www.virusanxiety.com
- Free Drop-In Mindfulness for Stress Management and Resilience online sessions during coronavirus – https://www.korudevelopment.co.uk
- Lisa Wilhelm’s Peace & Compassion Meditation cloud recording – https://zoom.us/rec/share/v9V0frLRsWdIR9KOsl74a-kbIIG6eaa81XAW-PEImU-A5pu4YtaIN9V5GBsEGGPf
- National Suicide Life Line – 800-273-8255
- Crisis Text Line – 741-741
- Penn State Crisis Line – 877-229-6400
The Office for Professional Mental Health seeks to improve the overall well-being of students on campus by offering programs that will aid students in improving their own mental health and that will decrease the stigma associated with seeking support for mental health concerns.
Workshops and Presentations
The office provides workshops, presentations and discussion groups. Providers within the office are open to supporting other offices, programs and department through consultation and providing lectures/programs that aid with increase mental well-being across the campus.
Topics that have been provided in the past include: Beating Anxiety, Depression and Suicide Awareness, Burnout Recovering and Prevention, Stress Management and Reflective Journaling.
The Real Talk program has been established to increase contact between Office for Professional Mental Health providers and students, and to address issues that are common for students in the College of Medicine. Real Talk is series of group meetings for graduate students, medical students and physician assistant students with the goal of providing safe and open atmosphere to discuss the challenges associated with being a student. Topics have included stress management, self-care, imposter syndrome, mindfulness and burnout.
Mental Health Band-Aid
Mental Health Band-Aid is a two-hour workshop created to briefly review several common mental health concerns, and signs and symptoms of mental illness. In this course, attendees learn simple ways that can help and support others with these concerns. These courses are also offered to the faculty, staff and others in the PSU community.
Mental Health First Aid
Mental Health First Aid training is an eight-hour course that gives people the skills to help someone who is developing a mental health problem or experiencing a mental health crisis. The National Counsel for Behavioral Health offers a certification in Mental Health First Aid USA, which will be provided to participants if they complete the entire course and if more than five individuals attend the course.
QPR stands for Question, Persuade and Refer – three simple steps anyone can learn to help save a life from suicide. QPR is not a form of counseling or treatment. Rather, it is intended to offer hope through positive action. Those who learn QPR will come to recognize the warning signs, clues and suicidal communications of people in trouble, and skills to act vigorously to prevent a possible tragedy. Learn more about the QPR course and certification.
Providers within the Office for Professional Mental Health may choose to become involved with committees and programs across the campus or within the community that aid with increased well-being and decrease the stigma related to mental health. Email Dr. Martha Peaslee Levine for details at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Self-Care tips
Self-care when police brutality has you questioning humanity & social media is not enough. This article gives tips and ideas for battling with overload from social media and examples for self-care. Some ideas for self-care are:
- Take a Break
- Play with animals
- Get Silly
- Get Help
- Getting back to our lives in the aftermath of racial violence in the media
Racial media violence is stressful. This article offers ways to cope with racial stress, noting how Black Americans deal with racial stress and giving examples of both positive and negative coping strategies to deal with racial stress
- American Psychological Associations Building Your Resilience
We all face trauma, adversity and other stresses. Here’s a roadmap for adapting to life-changing situations, and emerging even stronger than before
The Office for Professional Mental Health has compiled many resources designed to help those in the College of Medicine and Penn State Health community improve their mental health.
Resources include websites, apps for both Apple and Android devices, tip sheets on stress management, guides to improving communication and short audio guided relaxation activities.
The Office for Professional Mental Health offers a variety of events through the academic year. Events offered by the office as well as others relevant to the topic of mental health and wellness are listed here when they are available.
Click or touch each one for details and to add it to a calendar.
Anonymous Self-Check Assessment Questionnaire
- Is entirely anonymous, confidential and completely voluntary
- Is a safe and easy way to find out if stress, anxiety or depression may be present
- Is a free service from the Office for Professional Mental Health
There are three easy steps:
- Take and submit a brief (less than 10-minute) questionnaire.
- A program counselor will post a personal response on the secure website with information, recommendations and options for next steps.
- The person taking the questionnaire has the option of communicating with the counselor through the website, on the phone or in person, or choose to do nothing further.
Mental Health America screenings
Free, anonymous, online mental health screenings are available through Mental Health America’s website. Following screening, those completing the questionnaires will be provided with information, resources and tools to discuss the results with a provider and can contact the office to make an appointment in the Office for Professional Mental Health.
Meet the Providers
Dr. Stephanie “Stevie” Falk is a licensed staff psychologist in the Office of Professional Mental Health.
Dr. Falk earned her PhD in counseling psychology from Loyola University of Chicago and has more than 20 years of experience as a licensed psychologist in Pennsylvania.
Dr. Falk has worked in a variety of clinical settings including college counseling centers, hospitals, private practice and family practice.
Currently, her professional interests include using mindfulness to improve performance and reduce anxiety; exploring family of origin dysfunction to improve current relationships; and healing complex trauma. She specializes in treating anxiety, depression, eating disorders, sexual assault and other traumas.
Dr. Falk was born and raised and currently lives in Lebanon, Pa., but likes to travel abroad to sample the local cuisine and culture. She spends her free time practicing yoga and mindfulness; walking her dog; and enjoying great coffee, music and TV/movies.
Chad Lauro is a licensed clinical social worker in the Office for Professional Mental Health.
Lauro earned his master’s degree in social work from the University of South Carolina. He has experience working in multiple clinical settings, including a VA outpatient clinic, private practice and community mental health. He is a certified cognitive processing therapy provider. He also has training in dialectical behavioral therapy and motivational interviewing.
Lauro uses a strength-based therapeutic approach. He enjoys reflecting back to his clients strengths that they may not see in themselves. He uses a collaborative strategy to support clients’ changes. His goal is to help individuals live their life to the fullest.
Dr. Martha Peaslee Levine is a board-certified psychiatrist who works in the Office for Professional Mental Health.
Dr. Levine earned her MD from Tulane School of Medicine and completed her psychiatric residency at NYU. She has experience working in a variety of clinical settings and is pleased to offer her clinical skills and experience in helping students improve their overall health and well-being. She has assisted many students as they tackle the stress of school and works to help them define healthy coping strategies. She can offer evaluation and treatment of a variety of issues including depression, anxiety and concentration difficulties.
Dr. Levine believes that sometimes everyone needs a little help to navigate life stresses. She offers a willingness to listen and wants to work with individuals so they can discover their strengths and maximize their abilities.
Contact the Office for Professional Mental Health
General Contact Information
Office location: Suite C1746, Penn State College of Medicine, Hershey, Pa.
Office email: PMH@pennstatehealth.psu.edu
Office phone: 717-531-8658
Office manager: Trudi Middleton-Flynn, email@example.com
Scheduling an Appointment
Appointments should be made by contacting the preferred provider directly.
The Office for Professional Mental Health is located within the College of Medicine.
Offices for certain providers are in the Office for Professional Mental Health suite, C1746 in the Humanities hallway.