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

As the state’s flagship, land-grant institution, the University of Kentucky exists to advance the Commonwealth. We do that by preparing the next generation of leaders — placing students at the heart of everything we do — and transforming the lives of Kentuckians through education, research and creative work, service and health care. We pride ourselves on being a catalyst for breakthroughs and a force for healing, a place where ingenuity unfolds. It's all made possible by our people — visionaries, disruptors and pioneers — who make up 200 academic programs, a $476.5 million research and development enterprise and a world-class medical center, all on one campus.   

In 2022, UK was ranked by Forbes as one of the “Best Employers for New Grads” and named a “Diversity Champion” by INSIGHT into Diversity, a testament to our commitment to advance Kentucky and create a community of belonging for everyone. While our mission looks different in many ways than it did in 1865, the vision of service to our Commonwealth and the world remains the same. We are the University for Kentucky.