Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD)

The following information is provided by SMU’s EAP provider, Magellan Health Services.

noisycoworkerWhen a person experiences a traumatic or dangerous event, a series of chemical reactions are triggered within the body. These reactions are designed to help handle a threat and prepare to fight or run away from the threat. Physical changes include increased heart rate, change in blood pressure, and an increase in overall adrenaline.

What is PTSD?

The National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI) defines PTSD as a disorder that can occur following a traumatic event. PTSD causes a person to become caught in a pattern that may increase anxiety, sleeplessness, anger or fear.

It may take a few days or weeks to overcome a traumatic experience and during those days of recovery one may experience signs and symptoms similar to PTSD. This is a normal reaction of the body and mind processing and healing from the experience.  When someone becomes caught in a constant pattern of re-experiencing their trauma for months and years, they are experiencing PTSD.

Events that can lead to PTSD:
• Natural disasters such as tornados, hurricanes and earthquakes
• Car accident or a plane crash
• Terrorist attack
• Sudden death of a loved one or friend
• Rape or sexual assault
• Kidnapping
• Acts of violence such as a robbery or murder.
• Physical abuse
• Childhood neglect or abuse
• War

Symptoms of PTSD:
Re-experiencing: This is when a person continues to have the same mental, emotional, and physical experiences that occurred during or just after the trauma. This includes thinking about the trauma, seeing images of the event, feeling agitated, and having physical sensations like those that occurred during the trauma. Trauma survivors find themselves feeling and acting as if the trauma is happening again: feeling as if they are in danger, experiencing panic sensations, wanting to escape, getting angry, and thinking about attacking or harming someone else. Because they are anxious and physically agitated, they may have trouble sleeping and trouble concentrating.

Mentally re-experiencing the trauma can include:
• Upsetting memories such as images or other thoughts about the trauma
• Feeling as if the trauma is happening again (“Flashbacks”)
• Bad dreams and nightmares
• Getting upset when reminded about the trauma
• Anxiety or fear—feeling in danger again
• Anger or aggressive feelings – feeling the need to defend oneself
• Trouble controlling emotions because reminders lead to sudden anxiety or anger
• Trouble concentrating or thinking clearly

Although re-experiencing symptoms is unpleasant, such re-occurring symptoms are a sign that the body and mind are actively trying to cope with the traumatic experience.

Avoidance: People who have been through traumas usually seek to avoid reminders. Ways of avoiding thoughts, feelings, and sensations associated with the trauma can include:
• Avoiding conversations and staying away from places, activities, or people that might be a reminder of the trauma
• “Shutting down” emotionally or feeling emotionally numb to things
• Trouble having loving feelings or feeling any strong emotions
• Feeling disconnected from the world and feeling alone
• Avoiding situations that might cause an emotional reaction
• Loss of interest in activities that use to bring enjoyment

Avoiding thinking about trauma or avoiding treatment for trauma-related problems may keep a person from feeling upset in the short run. But avoiding treatment of continuing trauma symptoms prevents progress coping with trauma so that people’s trauma symptoms don’t go away.

Secondary Symptoms of PTSD: Secondary symptoms are problems that come about because of having post-traumatic re-experiencing and avoidance symptoms. Associated symptoms are problems that don’t come directly from being overwhelmed with fear, but happen because of other things that were going on at the time of the trauma.

All of these problems can be secondary or associated trauma symptoms:
• Aggressive behavior toward oneself or others: This can happen due to frustration over the inability to control PTSD symptoms. Some people are aggressive because they grew up with people who lashed out when they were angry and never taught them how to cope with angry feelings. Because angry feelings tend to keep people away, they can create a barrier and make it difficult to create positive connections and get help.  Anger and aggression can cause problems at work and in relationships.
Self-blame, guilt, and shame: PTSD symptoms make it hard to fulfill current responsibilities.  People suffering from PTSD begin to question what they did or didn’t do at the time of a trauma. Often, when people try to make sense
of their experience, they blame themselves. Self-blame causes distress and can prevent a person from reaching out for help.

PTSD and co-occurring conditions:

People who suffer from PTSD often have additional conditions that co- occur with PTSD. This may include:
• Depression
• Anxiety
• Sleep disorders
• Substance Abuse

Next steps:

If you or a loved one has PTSD it is important to get help right away.  The earlier PTSD is treated, the easier it is to overcome. It is natural  to want to avoid any painful memories or feelings from a traumatic event,  but this will only cause the PTSD to get worse.

Contact Magellan!36236426.thb

SMU’s EAP program, administered by Magellan, provides access to tools and other resources online or call us directly to speak to a professional counselor who is available everyday and at any time to provide confidential assistance at no cost to you.

Visit or call us at 877-704-5696.

Learn more about SMU’s EAP program.

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Retirement and Healthy Aging

The following information is provided by  Magellan Health Services, provider of SMU’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP).

Prepare for an active, healthy retirement

37739777.thbIf you’re nearing retirement, do you have a well-defined plan for your retired life? Today the average American spends nearly 20 years in retirement, so it’s important to prepare a life plan that closely fits your situation and needs.
As you’re nearing retirement, it’s good to consider how certain key realms of your retired life will look. Things to define include your overall mission in life, daily activities, health and wellness strategies, financial plans, social supports, and your travel wish list.

Your answers to the following questions can help you sketch your high-level retirement map.
• What is most important to you in life?
• What would you like to accomplish in the years ahead?
• What achievements have been missing from your life to date?
• How could you best use the skills you’ve acquired to make a difference for others?

Log on and learn! Look for Retirement and Healthy Aging on the Magellan member website under the In the Spotlight section on the welcome page.

To learn about other services provided by the EAP, visit the HR webpage.

Focusing on your future

futureHere are ideas for some potential new challenges to consider as you plan your future.
• Be active! With more time to yourself in retirement, be sure to get outside in the fresh air to walk, jog, hike, ride or canoe. Find buddies with whom to exercise!
• Pick a favorite cause, and volunteer some of your time. It’s a great way to help others while meeting new friends.
• Keep your brain challenged and moving forward with learning. Do online games, puzzles, chess, blogging or in-depth study.
• Explore a new path. Learn a new skill, language or art form. Attend a tai chi, yoga or cooking class. Start a new part-time career.
• Teach others the way. Draw on your experience to mentor young people.

Challenges of the sandwich generation

sandwichMillions of adults in the U.S. are active caregivers taking care of aging relatives. At the same time, over half of these caregivers are also caring for children under the age of 18, while trying to balance full- or part-time work outside the home.

If this is your situation, you may be able to ease your caregiving load by taking these steps.

Foster Family Communication
Good communication among elders, parents, and children is vital. Talking about boundaries and family member roles at the beginning of the caregiving arrangement will help everyone know what is expected of them, and will provide a sense of belonging. Don’t leave younger kids out of the discussion.

Remain Flexible
Expect care arrangements to change over time. For many families, one decision rarely settles the matter forever. Involve the children in planning for any changes.

Be sure to ask for help!
Don’t “wish” that someone would take mother to her appointment or Billy to soccer practice. Make it known to others that these are shared responsibilities and it is someone else’s turn to drive this time. Friends will likely be willing to pitch in if you ask.

Tap community services
Many organizations are designed to help caregivers. Check out your local senior center, place of worship or hospital to find out what’s available. Respite care services are often available to provide a break for caregivers.

Take care of you too!
Be sure to eat a healthy, balanced diet, and get adequate sleep and regular exercise. Carve out time to nurture your relationship with your partner or spouse; having a close, loving relationship will provide you with a continuous and much needed source of strength.

Planning your retirement finances

Assess your situation19162926.thb
Take some time to organize and review all your savings and investment assets.
Save as much as you can!

Set a savings goal and consistently work toward it
The SMU 403(b) Retirement Plan is one of the most powerful ways to build your retirement savings. Try to contribute the maximum allowed and strive to not touch any of your retirement savings before you retire.

Understand Medicare and Social Security
Medicare and Social Security will play an important role in your financial security during your retirement years. Look for email invitations to the Retirement Readiness Workshops sponsored by the SMU Department of Human Resources. The workshops, typically held in September and in the Spring, provide valuable information about these programs.

Consult with an expert!
Talking with a financial advisor can give you a valuable second opinion on your retirement readiness. Joe Valiquette, SMU’s Transamerica Retirement Planning Consultant is available on campus Monday – Friday to discuss your retirement planning needs, investment allocation, and any questions you have regarding your SMU 403(b) account.

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Hiring Student Workers for the Summer?

helpHiring a new student worker this summer or plan on continuing employment through the summer for a current student worker?

It’s important to understand the student’s academic status during the summer months to determine the appropriate employment and payroll paperwork.

Payroll Authorization Form (PAF):
Student Worker vs Temporary Staff – It is important that you understand the correct classification for the student for the summer with regard to the PAF.

  • If the student is not enrolled in a credit-bearing summer term class (either session 1/2/combined), they should be classified as Temporary Staff and will need a Temporary Staff PAF for the summer.
  • If the student is enrolled in a Summer Term credit-bearing class (either session 1/2/combined), they will remain classified as a Student Worker and will need a Student Worker PAF for the summer.  This applies to undergraduate and graduate student workers.
  • If the student graduates in May 2015 and is not enrolled in summer term classes, they should be classified as temporary staff.


  • All current student worker PAFs will expire on May 15, 2015.  A new PAF must be submitted if the student will be working past May 15th and will not be paid until received in Payroll.
  • International Student Workers:  After determining the appropriate PAF to use for summer, departments will continue to follow the instructions for hiring international student workers provided by the International Students & Scholars Office (ISSS).

Other Required Paperwork:

Employment classification (student worker or temporary staff) will determine the additional employment paperwork required for summer employment.  The following forms may be impacted:

  • studentForm W-4
  • SMU ID card (student vs. staff).
  • A background check may be required

The attached document highlights the classification and the required paperwork for each classification.



Student Worker Employment Packet

Temporary Staff Employment Packet




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On-Line Beneficiary Designation Required for Insurance!

SMU provides Basic Group Life Insurance to benefits-eligible faculty and staff.  In addition, you may have elected voluntary Supplemental Life Insurance and/or Accidental Death & Dismemberment (AD&D) Insurance at some point during your SMU career. At the time you were enrolled in one or more of these plans, you were asked to submit a paper beneficiary designation form to the Department of Human Resources.

life insuranceEffective January 1, 2015, The Standard replaced Reliance Standard as the insurance carrier for these plans.  With this change, we are replacing paper beneficiary forms with on-line beneficiary designation.  All benefits-eligible faculty and staff are required to enter their beneficiaries via The Standard’s Online Beneficiary Designation System as soon as possible.

  • You must first register by entering your SMU ID or SSN, your date of birth and Company Key: standardbendes
  • Establish your User Name and Password
  • You will need name, SSN (optional), date of birth, address and phone number for each beneficiary

You must designate one or more beneficiaries for your Basic Group Life Insurance.  If you don’t have Supplemental Life and/or AD&D Insurance, bypass those sections of the online form.  It you don’t recall if you enrolled in Supplemental Life or AD&D insurance, please review your Benefits Summary by logging into> Employee Self-Service> Benefits> Benefits Summary.

checkmarkThis will only take a few minutes of your time and you will always have immediate access to your beneficiary information and the ability to make changes at any time going forward. 

Additional information regarding the SMU Life and AD&D plans can be found on the Human Resources website under the Life & Disability tab.

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The Tuition Benefit Request Process for the 2016 Academic Year is Now Open!

Continuing students, newly admitted students, or parent of either new or continuing students for the Fall 2015 semester may begin to make their tuition benefits requests.


Request your benefit online!

Log into my.SMU and navigate to Self-Serve > Benefits > Tuition Benefits > Tuition Benefits Request

  1. Read the attest statement and SAVE
  2. Choose AY16 and SAVE again.

It is that simple!

All eligible* credit hours will be awarded for each student requesting Tuition Benefits throughout the academic year (fall – summer).

*Visit the Tuition Benefit website for eligibility requirements, program details, and information on tax considerations.

Questions may be directed to

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SMU Program for the Protection of Minors – Annual Training for Camp Operators and Program Coordinators

Annual Training for
SMU Camp Operators and Program Coordinators

Monday April 6, 2105
HTSC-Forum Room

SMU seeks to provide a healthy environment for all who visit SMU and/or interact with employees.  As part of this goal, all employees are asked to complete a training program on protecting minors from abuse.  In addition, SMU employees who host camps or coordinate camps on behalf of others are strongly urged to attend an annual training covering the following topics:

  • UntitledSMU’s policy on the Protection of Minors and your responsibility for record-keeping
  • Best practices to ensure a healthy camp atmosphere and how/to whom to report abuse, should you see or hear about it
  • The State of Texas’ requirement for all camp employees to be trained by an approved training vendor

This training is facilitated by the Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center (DCAC) in partnership with the Office of Risk Management and SMU Human Resources and your attendance will be included in your individual training summary on my.SMU.

Request enrollment in this annual training via my.SMU.  Navigate to Self Service>Learning and Development>Request Training Enrollment. Search by course code and enter HRPPMB.

Required State Mandated Training for Camp Operators, Camp Employees/Volunteers, and SMU Program Coordinators:  Ensure your training is up to date!

The State of Texas requires that all camp employees and volunteers complete a training program on recognizing abuse and the responsibility to report abuse when it occurs.  This training must have been completed within the two years prior to the start of the camp.  SMU Camp Operators and Program Coordinators should ensure their latest  training completion falls within this time frame.

mySMUTo do this, check your training summary in my.SMU by navigating to Self Service>Learning and Development>Request Training Summary.

The most recent completion date will be in this report.  If your last completion falls outside of two years prior to the start of the upcoming camp, you must retrain.   Log into, select the course by its’ name (SMU Program for the Protection of Minors) and advance through the training until you receive a message indicating the course is complete.  We suggest that you read the course overview before beginning the modules of training in order to learn more about the course setup and Blackboard navigation.

Once completed, allow 24-48 hours for completion results to upload to my.SMU and access your training summary again to verify completion.  If your completion is not showing in my.SMU, check Blackboard to ensure you have gone all the way through the training.

Don’t see the course listed in SMU Blackboard?  Read the directions to request enrollment in the course.

State Mandated Training for Non-SMU Employees

To support our goal of a healthy environment, SMU will once again provide the state mandated training for non-SMU employees via an organizational license with the DCAC online training program.   Camp Operators and Program Coordinators may work with SMU HR to ensure that all non-SMU employees and any volunteers may complete the training at no cost.  Email or call 214-768-3311 for more information.

Learn more on the Program for Protection of Minors webpage.

HR-Icons-QuestionsEmail Risk Management for questions regarding your role as a Camp Operator and Program Coordinator at

HR-Icons-QuestionsEmail HR for questions regarding the state mandated training and access to Blackboard at

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Wellpower Welcomes a New Onsite Health Coach

Rhea LiSMU Wellpower and Healthways welcome Rhea Li as our new part-time onsite health coach. Rhea is a registered dietitian with a Bachelor’s degree in nutrition and a Master’s degree in public health with a focus on health education and health promotion. She has experience in providing counseling from childhood into adulthood covering a wealth of topics including healthy eating, physical activity, and stress management. She previously worked as the Healthy Lifestyle Coordinator for Rice University, developing new wellness programs for faculty and staff. Rhea’s philosophy when health coaching is getting to know client’s personally in order to help them build more satisfying and healthy lifestyles. She is looking forward to working you to help you meet your wellness goals!

Rhea will meet with participants and respond to questions via email or the phone on  Wednesdays and Thursdays each week. If you’d like to make an appointment with Rhea, email with 2-3 appointment possibilities (dates and times, please) and she’ll contact you to confirm an appointment or phone call.

A Note About Confidentiality
Our Wellpower health coach is a Healthways employee, and may have access to your biometric screening information and any other information you choose to share. Our health coach will keep that information confidential in accordance with HIPPA and other applicable privacy guidelines. Only aggregate, group data will be provided to SMU. Group data does not include any individual information and allows Wellpower to monitor the effectiveness of programs and services. If you have any questions or concerns about your privacy with regard to medical information, please contact us at

HealthyU_Healthways 4c

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FAQ for “Stop Harassment and Discrimination” and “Eliminate Campus Sexual Violence” Training via Law Room

At various points over the last six months, all full and part-time staff and faculty (including adjunct faculty) have been asked to complete two new online tutorials on the topics of preventing harassment, discrimination, and sexual violence. Temporary staff have not been asked to complete the new training, but may be required to do so in the future.

If you have been asked to complete the tutorials, but have yet to do so, we ask that you complete them by January 31, 2015. Click the link below to learn more about the tutorials and why President Turner has asked staff and faculty to complete the training.

Letter from President Turner Regarding Completion of New Online Training (November, 2014)

Online Training Via LawRoom


The required training is provided by Law Room and includes the following two tutorials:

  1. Eliminate Campus Sexual Violence
  2. Either Stop Harassment and Discrimination (employee version) OR Supervisory Anti-Harassment (manager version)

Regular “e-minders” are generated by the Law Room system until the assigned training is completed.

Your completion status is typically uploaded within 24 hours to your training summary in my.SMU and is viewable under Self Service>Learning and Development>Request Training Status.

Frequently Asked Questions

1.  I’ve completed the training – why am I still receiving the email reminders?
There are  2 reasons you might still be receiving the emails.  First, there are 2 tutorials to be completed.  You may have completed one but not the other.  Log back into the vendor’s system and check the list of assigned training to ensure you have completed both. Second, you might have completed the second tutorial in time to prevent the next “e-minder” from placed in the email queue. Emails typically go out on Monday, so if you are sure you’ve completed both tutorials correctly, wait at least one week to see if the email reminder stops. If you’re still receiving email reminders after following these steps, email us at for assistance.

2.  I am “stuck” on a page and can’t advance forward.
The tutorials contain interactive elements which must be completed before the NEXT nextbutton is revealed at the bottom right on your screen.  Look for the instructions on the page (Click, Drag, Read, etc) and interact with all the elements to reveal the Next button.

3.  I don’t see anything on my screen-it’s not doing what it is supposed to do.
The interactive elements of the tutorials require the most recent versions of Adobe Flash. Check to ensure your version is the most recent and if not, download the free update from the Adobe online site.  If you are uncomfortable doing this yourself, contact the OIT Help Desk for support.  You also might try a different browser window to access the training.  Your computer settings might cause an unfriendly interaction with the default browser on your computer.  Again the OIT Help Desk can support you if this is the issue.

4.  I’m a temporary or adjunct faculty member and I can’t log in – the link in my email is not working.
Temporary faculty status was moved to “Inactive” in my.SMU at the end of the Fall semester, which caused the corresponding Law Room accounts to be inactivated as well.  When the temporary faculty member’s Payroll Authorization Form (for the next semester in which they will teach) is entered into my.SMU, the corresponding account in the Law Room system will be reactivated, typically within 24 hours. The individual will receive a new email from LawRoom and s/he will have an additional 90 days to complete the training.  

Questions regarding the content presented in the training should be directed to the Office of Institutional Access and Equity at

Questions regarding the training assignments and completions should be directed to Human Resources at

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What’s New With Wellpower in 2015

Wellpower and Human Resources will provide a number of opportunities for you to improve or maintain your well-being this spring. We are busy finalizing details, but want to let you know what’s on the horizon now!

New Wellpower Reward Period Begins February 2, 2015

  • Join Now
    If you haven’t joined Wellpower, it’s not too late! A new reward period begins February 2, so sign up now. Any points you earn prior to February 2 will roll over to the new reward period, so there’s no reason to wait!    Wellpower Overview
  • Earn Points Faster
    We will offer multiple ways to earn points in the spring including updating your biometric and health record information (current participants) or completing the Well-Being 5, creating a Well-Being Plan, and completing the Lifestyle Profile (new participants). In addition, you can earn  points for signing up for a challenge and more points for actively participating in a challenge. Also starting in February, you can earn up to 100 points per week (versus 75 now) by tracking specific activities on the website.
  • Challenges
    We will offer two challenges this spring. One focuses on building an exercise routine and the second on weight-loss.
  • Redemption Center
    The redemption center will enable you to redeem your points for awards once you reach the 2,000 and the 4,000 points levels.
  • Onsite Coach
    We are very excited about a new health coach joining us onsite this spring. Healthways is in the process of hiring the coach and once s/he is trained on their systems, we will have a coach available two days week. We currently have Matt Stika on campus Tuesdays and Wednesdays as our interim coach. If you’d like to make an appointment or speak with him just email

Preventive Care Opportunities

Onsite Health Screenings

SMU will host onsite health check-ups/screenings in March.  Appointments will be available on the main, east, and Plano campuses. All benefits-eligible staff/faculty are invited to sign up for an appointment. These are paid for at 100% by SMU as preventive care under BCBSTX.  Not on SMU’s insurance? No problem. You can also schedule an appointment and SMU will pay for the check-up.

Information about the onsite health check-ups will be sent via email in February, so
check your inbox!

Mobile Mammography Units
The UT Southwestern Mobile Mammography Unit will be on campus April 9, 2015 and June 16, 2015. More information about location, scheduling, and what to bring to the appointment will be available in early March. In February, Wellpower will email benefits-eligible staff/faculty with details about the April visit.

Naturally Slim Online Class

We are finalizing details on the next Naturally Slim class which
will be offered in late A Taste of Naturally Slimspring following our onsite health check-up/screenings. If you are interested in applying for the class, we encourage you to schedule an onsite health check-up/screening appointment as recent biometric data is requested on the application. If you are accepted into the class, the cost will be covered by SMU.

Because the Naturally Slim class has been recently updated, we are excited to announce that alumni may apply to complete the course again. More details about the class and how to apply will be available online in February and will be included in our emails about the onsite health check-up/screenings.  Again, watch your inbox for details.

Email us at

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SMU Wellpower Welcomes Interim Health Coach, Matt Stika

Healthways, the company that now provides our online wellness program for Wellpower is busy recruiting a new onsite health coach for us. We hope to bring that new coach on board in early spring. However, we are fortunate to have an interim health coach visiting campus in December. Read Matt’s letter outlining his background and availability to help you get started with a well-being plan now:

mattHello all,
My name is Matthew Stika and I am looking forward to serving as your interim Health Coach for the start of this year’s Wellpower program. I have been working with Healthways at our San Antonio location for the past year; although, I have been working in the health coaching industry for the past five years. Wow, five years already… it’s true that time flies when you’re having fun.

My academic background centered on Exercise Physiology and Nutrition, earning Master’s degrees in both fields. During my professional career, I have further complemented my overall skill set through continued studies and certifications as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist and a Tobacco Cessation Specialist. Likewise, my health coaching interests and experience span a wide-spectrum in both body and mind, ranging from implementing exercise and nutritional methods to create desired physical health-change, to focusing on improving stress management and tobacco cessation. No matter which topic(s) you would like to pursue, we will focus on establishing individual lifestyle balance to provide sustainable long-term comfort and success! Upon transition to the permanent Health Coach, all notes of your progress will be confidentially maintained to provide a comfortable and seamless transition.

In serving as your interim Health Coach, I may not be here for a long time, but I look forward to having a good time in providing any support in your continued efforts towards your individual wellness goals. I will be on-campus on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 8:30AM – 5:00PM, December 9, 10, 16, and 17, so feel free to contact me at (214) 768-4481, or via email at

Be well,

HealthyU_Healthways 4c

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