Health Center personnel focus on student well-being

SMU’s Memorial Health Center is finding new ways to serve students. Learn more about Mary Way, director of Counseling and Psychiatric Services (CAPS), and new Health Educator Megan Knapp.

With the merger of the Departments of Counseling and Testing and Psychiatric Services, Dr. Mary Way – previously director of Psychiatric Services – now directs the combined departments. The merger was designed to provide better service to and closer communication with students by sharing one set of files and providing one telephone number for the range of services, she says.

“We have a very talented and committed group of professionals who are dedicated to providing good clinical psychological care to SMU students and to support faculty and staff in their work with students,” says Way, who will maintain a primary role in direct patient care.

Way graduated from Brown University with a Bachelor of Arts and received her M.D. degree from UT-Southwestern Medical School. She completed her psychiatry residency and internship at the Timberlawn Psychiatric Hospital in Dallas and is Board Certified in Psychiatry. She maintained a private practice in Dallas and provided backup psychiatric services to the Health Center before formally joining SMU in September 2000.

CAPS shares the 2nd floor of the Memorial Health Center with the Center for Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention, and the two groups work closely together, Way says. “We anticipate working even more closely with John Sanger and his department and to support his new ideas and efforts to help prevent and treat alcohol and drug problems,” she adds.

The office also maintains an after-hours emergency number, answered by its own staff. Students in crisis can reach CAPS at 214-768-2277.

Meanwhile, the Center for Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention is reaching directly into the student community with the addition of new Health Educator Megan Knapp. Currently, she is working with nearly 40 students to train them to be peer educators on drug and alcohol issues. In addition, she will work with students on a full range of health-related topics – “everything from nutrition and eating disorders to getting better sleep to STDs and sexual responsibility,” she says.

“Students are often more open and receptive to information coming from their peers,” Knapp adds. “By training students to advocate for specific health topics, I hope we can reach more students and positively impact health-related behaviors on this campus.”

As an undergraduate at Southwestern University, she majored in biology and communications studies and worked for Williamson County and Cities Health District on projects related to child nutrition, immunizations and the promotion of healthy lifestyles. She received her Master’s degree in public health with a focus on health education from Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health. During her time in Atlanta, she also worked at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Before joining SMU in mid-July, she worked with Tarrant County Public Health as a health educator for bioterrorism and emergency preparedness.

Knapp’s husband, Brad, graduated from Dedman School of Law in May 2007. “One thing that attracted me to working here was spending so much time on campus during his education,” she says.