University of Kentucky to expand mental health services for diverse staff

Posted at 12:23 PM, Mar 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-11 13:10:51-05

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — Between the COVID-19 pandemic and social unrest, protecting one's mental health has been a challenge for many people over the last year. But even finding help can be difficult for some groups who may not feel they are represented.

The University of Kentucky is working to fix that for employees and their families.

UK Human Resources and the College of Social Work are partnering to improve mental health resources to be more inclusive to diverse members of the university.

“We want to do everything that we can do to ensure that folks feel comfortable reaching out when they need mental health treatment and support and I think a lot of that starts when we have a diverse array of providers,” said Dr. Jay Miller, dean of the College of Social Work.

Miller says the university understands that stress over the past year has looked different for everyone, including minority groups with the increased racial tensions and challenges in 2020. He says a lack of representation can be a barrier to accessing adequate mental health support.

“This partnership is one that really realizes that every unit, particularly in an academic environment, has some kind of responsibility to ensure that folks are receiving good mental health services,” said Miller.

Miller says some of the goals of this mission include expanding telehealth services to make therapy more easily accessible and hiring additional providers who represent a wider variety of diverse groups.

“Right now, we're exploring the concepts of doing therapy in different languages, so be it Spanish or Mandarin or what have you,” he said. “Those are things that we can really wrap our hands around and be intentional about providing.”

Miller says enhancing mental health resources goes beyond helping the individual. By allowing people to feel more comfortable reaching out, he says it breaks down the stigma of therapy and makes it easier for even more people to get the support they need, which benefits a larger community, like the university.