Campus News

Resources are Focus of Mental Illness Awareness Week

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Oct. 2, 2014) – As the nation observes Mental Illness Awareness Week, Oct. 5-11, the University of Kentucky community will have a chance to focus on mental health and learn about services that help take care of their minds.

With such stressors as midterms coming up, it's important to know how stress can affect students and what services are available to combat mental health issues. One in four college students are living with a diagnosable mental illness, with higher prevalence of mental illnesses, and suicide is the second leading cause of death among college students. There are a number of services offered through UK Student Health Service and the Counseling Center, on the main campus, which help students in managing their mental health.

For full-time students, tuition includes a student health fee, which allows them to utilize University Health Service (UHS). The Behavioral Health Clinic on the fourth floor of the UHS building can be a great resource for students. Students can discuss any issues they are having related to mental health, including test anxiety, issues sleeping or suicidal thoughts and schizophrenia.

 According to Dr. Ann Hays, the clinical director of UHS, it will take about a week or two to get an appointment with the qualified physicians working in that office. However, students can make appointments with a primary care physician, who can do screenings and assess patients. Those appointments can usually be made for the same day or possibly the next. If the doctor thinks a patient is in need of further assistance, they can issue a referral to Behavioral Health.

Another great resource is the UK Counseling Center, located in Frazee Hall. The Counseling Center offers their services free of charge to any UK student enrolled in at least six credit hours.

“I tell people every day it [mental illness] is a medical model like any other illness," Hays said. "You’re not afraid to come to the doctor for a cold; you shouldn’t be afraid to take care of your mental health.”

Students who are not struggling with mental health issues, but think a friend or acquaintance might be, have the option to submit a referral to the Community of Concern. This panel of UK staff will assess these referrals and assist students with coping with issues, be they related to mental health or otherwise.

Services offered by UK are expansive, but people still need to be encouraged to make use of these tools. Unfortunately, the stigma associated with mental illness and receiving mental health care causes many people to ignore their illnesses or go without treatment. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) UK, a club here at UK, is working to eliminate that stigma by educating students, faculty and staff. The group works to educate students and the community about mental illness, and will be doing so on Oct. 11, when they literally "walk the walk" by participating in NAMIWalks.

Health care for college students frequently focuses on physical health and forgets about the importance of mental health. Mental Illness Awareness Week gives students the chance to take a moment to think about what they can do to improve their mental health and help those around them who might need it.

MEDIA CONTACT: Olivia McCoy, UK Public Relations, 859-257-8716