Professional News

BLOG: Staying Connected During Mental Health Awareness Month

photo of a mother, father and two kids tired of COVID quarantine

LEXINGTON, Ky. (May 8, 2020) Following is a blog from the University of Kentucky Human Resources’ Work+Life Connections team.

It has been nearly two months since UK students began online learning, health care workers found themselves on the front lines of a pandemic, many campus employees shifted to remote work environments and countless aspects of our day-to-day lives changed. Now more than ever, we have reached a time when it’s incredibly important for our community to have a conversation about mental health. Our focus should be on staying well and staying connected. ​

Since 1949, Mental Health Awareness Month has been celebrated in the United States in May. Providers are constantly working to normalize and remove the stigma attached to mental health-related concerns, and Mental Health Awareness Month has offered a larger platform to deliver that message. The message applies to our community, even if we aren’t together in person.

The Work+Life Connections team is here to help UK employees with their mental health and self-care needs. UK employees can schedule up to five free counseling appointments per fiscal year for themselves and their sponsored dependents. Therapists assist with a variety of needs, including depression, stress, anxiety, grief, trauma, family issues and work concerns. 

Unfortunately, COVID-19 has interrupted plans for in-person sessions. Nonetheless, telehealth is an increasingly utilized option for receiving mental health support. In addition, COVID-19 has provided a unique opportunity to highlight that everyone can manage their mental and emotional well-being in different, creative ways. We are all experiencing a collective trauma that affects each person differently. 

For support, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) is a new therapy offered by Cindy Bowling, one of the Work+Life Connections therapists in the Office of Work-Life. It is an evidence-based therapy that helps people heal from traumatic and overwhelming experiences. Learn more about EMDR here

At this time, video or phone appointments are offered via Zoom. Counseling appointments can be scheduled here

Additionally, the HR Work-Life provides several supportive programs and services to assist employees as they manage their work and life responsibilities. All programs and workshops are being held virtually and can be found on the Work-Life calendar. The following offerings support mental health and well-being. 

HealthCare Self-Care Series: ​

May 12, from 3-4 p.m.: “Mindfulness” 

May 19, from 3-4 p.m.: “Grief Responses” 

Midday Mingle: 

Mondays and Thursdays in May from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m.    If you have any questions about mental health and well-being offerings for UK employees, please contact the HR Work-Life

Additional information about mental health is offered by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). Each year, the NAMI fights stigma, provides support, educates the public and advocates for policies that support people with mental illness and their families. Learn more about their “You Are Not Alone” campaign here

The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion three years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for" two years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers."  We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for four straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.