Our Approach to Community Mental Health and Wellness

photo of Bowman statue with rainbow

President Capilouto and other administrators sent the following email to the UK community on April 11, 2019.

Dear Campus Community, 

We talked with our Board of Trustees at its February meeting about our responsibility to meet our community’s mental health and well-being needs. We pledged to abandon tired stereotypes about seeking professional assistance in a time of crisis. We also committed to discuss candidly the sources of anxiety, sadness, and fear in our midst, and to endorse emphatically the resources on campus designed to foster healing and resilience.

To that end, a Mental Health Task Force has been established and charged with evaluating and making recommendations regarding the scope and trends of mental health issues among students at the University of Kentucky.

The Task Force is composed of faculty and staff from across our campus with specific and deep expertise in mental health and issues of well-being. Its overarching goal is to establish foundational and proactive mental health and well-being initiatives for the entire campus. The Task Force will solicit input from campus providers, students, faculty, staff, and other stakeholders across our community.

The Task Force is charged with:

  • Understanding the current state of mental health issues among UK students and defining the resources on our campus that are necessary to better support and refer students to the appropriate services. 
  • Examining the best practices for monitoring mental health on college campuses; identifying state-of-the-art programs to promote and support positive student mental health; and instituting a monitoring tool.
  • Identifying the optimal framework for improved campus-wide mental health literacy that supports student engagement and retention.
  • Creating an inventory of mental health services on campus, optimizing their coordination across units, and improving student awareness of the services. 
  • Performing a gap analysis of current mental health services available on campus based on best practices, knowledge from campus experts, and input from stakeholders; identifying a desired future state of services.
  • Considering LEAN design of mental health services to enable adequate and efficient delivery of care.
  • Defining short-term and long-term priorities and goals for UK to improve the identification of mental health issues and the delivery of mental health services for our diverse student body.  

Members of the Task Force include: 

  • Co-chairs Dean of the College of Public Health Donna Arnett and Director of Risk Management for UK HealthCare Margaret Pisacano
  • Fazleena Badurdeen – Professor and Director of Graduate Studies (Manufacturing Systems Engineering), College of Engineering
  • Julie Cerel – Professor and Director of Doctoral Programs, College of Social Work
  • Richard Chapman – Chief Privacy Officer, UK HealthCare
  • Sonja Feist-Price – Vice President for Institutional Diversity
  • Nancy Harrington – Professor and Associate Dean for Research, College of Communication and Information
  • Seth Himelhoch – Professor and Chair of Psychiatry, College of Medicine
  • Nick Kehrwald – Dean of Students
  • Jeff Reese – Professor, College of Education
  • Christina Studts – Associate Professor, College of Public Health
  • Leslie Vincent – Lecturer, Gatton College of Business and Economics

Under the leadership of this Task Force, we will face this challenge together. Some of the issues they are tackling as a group may include some short-term recommendations and programs; some will likely take longer to evaluate and then enact. We have told the committee we want to undertake these efforts with a sense of urgency, but also thoughtfully and comprehensively.

We want to thank them in advance for their commitment of time and talent to this important endeavor. Such commitment is what it means to be a campus distinguished by compassion and determination. Such commitment is what it means to be a community of belonging for everyone who calls this special place home. 

Thank you for all that you do. 


Eli Capilouto                       David W. Blackwell                          Donna Arnett                                                    Margaret Pisacano               

President                             Provost                                            Dean, College of Public Health                      Director of Risk Management, UK HealthCare