A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

As coronavirus pandemic drags on, it’s taking a significant toll of the mental health of children, teens

By Brandon Porter Kentucky Today As COVID infection rates begin to slowly decline, a recent study reveals the number of mental health-related medical visits for children is rising. A CDC report released in late November shows that emergency department visits for children aged 5-11 were up by 24%, and for children 12-17 were up by 31% from the previous year. “I am not surprised at all by these...

Four Ky. lawyers have committed suicide in last three weeks, drawing attention to stress in legal community

Four Kentucky lawyers have committed suicide in the last three weeks, according to the Kentucky Bar Association. “The suicides have prompted many to encourage colleagues to seek help if they need it and renewed calls for more continuing education about suicide, mental health, substance abuse and depression for the legal community,” report Beth Musgrave and Valarie Honeycutt Spears of the...

St. Jude psychologists: Tend to your mental health over the holidays; address isolation, loneliness, grief

With the holiday season in full swing and many Americans bracing for a long winter of increased isolation, loneliness and grief, the team of psychologists at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital are asking Americans to take a few moments out of their busy schedules today to tend to mental health. Megan Wilkins The team of psychologists at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital have years of experience...

UK responds to critical needs with fully-online undergraduate social work degree program

By Lindsey Piercy University of Kentucky Helping people in need is more than a career — it’s a calling. Now you can answer that calling by earning a Bachelor of Arts in Social Work (BASW) from the University of Kentucky completely online. Times are tumultuous, and 2020 has brought challenges like never before. From a public health crisis to movements against social injustice, communities are in...

Kentucky receives $7 million grant to support behavioral health services in Appalachian region

The Kentucky Department for Behavioral Health, Developmental, and Intellectual Disabilities (DBHDID) received a $7 million grant to support behavioral health services in the state’s Appalachian region following severe weather in 2019. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) recently awarded this grant in response to natural disasters, including severe flooding and mudslides...

LexArts partners with New Vista to issue call for artists to commission large-scale mural in Lexington

LexArts, in partnership with New Vista, has announced a call for artists to commission a large-scale mural for one of New Vista’s office locations at 201 Mechanic Street in Lexington. Through a statewide Request for Qualifications, three artists will be paid $500 to create a proposal specific to the New Vista location. One artist will be awarded $10,000 to realize their proposal. The deadline...

KDE commissioner’s Student Advisory Council discusses mental health, non-traditional instruction

The Kentucky Education Commissioner’s Student Advisory Council – comprised of 29 high school students throughout Kentucky – met virtually on July 29 to discuss concerns and hopes for the 2020-2021 school year. It was the first meeting for the 2020-2021 council. Presenters from the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) led discussions about non-traditional instruction (NTI) during the coming...

As COVID-induced mental health issues emerge, this expert says ‘send your brain on a summer vacation’

By Maridith Yahl Special to KyForward It’s summer and that usually means lots of fun. But, the quarantine from COVID-19 has caused fear, anxiety, and loneliness. It can seem overwhelming as if there is no hope, but Dr. Annette Nunez says it is possible to achieve a positive summer mindset and improve our mental health. She suggests sending your brain on a summer vacation. Dr. Nunez, a licensed psychotherapist,...

Vaping and mental health are key concerns for Kentucky students in latest risk behavior survey

From Kentucky Teacher Based on the 2019 Kentucky Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) results, middle and high school students in the state are using electronic vaping products much more than they were in 2017. The percentage of middle school students who ever used an electronic vapor product increased from 15.1% in 2017 to 31.4% in 2019. A significant increase also occurred among high school students...

This week at the Capitol: Lawmakers address issues ranging from voter identification to school safety

As sure as gavel strikes mark the start of a Kentucky General Assembly session, packed hallways in the Capitol Annex are a sign that a session has gone into high gear as people from across Kentucky converge to make their voices heard. That was clearly the case this past week as thousands of Kentuckians came to the Capitol Campus to weigh in on issues ranging from voter identification to school safety....

Whayne Herriford: Establishing and maintaining boundaries in relationships is key to mental health

For many of my clients, one of the sources of both depression and anxiety is their ability to establish and maintain boundaries with other people. In therapy, boundaries are the limits or rules we set for ourselves and others in relationships. It’s based on our understanding of what we want or need in our lives and how we are willing to allow people to help us fulfill them. Boundaries often are...

Whayne Herriford: How do I know if my mental health is OK? Consider four general areas to test yourself

How do I know if my mental health is OK? This is a question I frequently hear when people learn that I am a licensed counselor. And the simple answer is that there is no standard answer. Just like physical health describes our body’s ability to adjust to environmental stimuli or events which challenge its functioning, mental health describes how well we respond to events in our life that challenge...

With rates of depression rising in U.S., mental health experts say online screenings are an important tool

More Americans are using online screening tests to gauge whether depression is playing a role in their health, and mental health experts say that’s a good thing. Just as people might screen for diabetes, heart disease or high blood pressure, a depression screening provides a quick way to spot the first signs of what might be a serious mental health issue. Marcie Timmerman, executive director...

Melissa Martin: Obsessive Compulsive Disorder in children is a mental health issue and it can be treated

Shawn’s mother brought him to therapy because she noticed he began to squeeze his head in the mornings before school. He was trying to “squeeze out the thoughts.” Shawn (a 5-year old) was experiencing ruminating thoughts that “would not go away.” He was having unwanted intrusive thoughts. Kate (a 9-year old) developed an irrational fear that certain foods would harm or poison her. She read...

Keven Moore: What to do to reduce PTSD with first responders? Needs to be treated as workplace issue

In Covington, after 26 years of service, Assistant Chief Chip Terry went into a deep depression shortly after retirement. Everybody I have talked to who knew him has told me that he was a wonderful family man who loved his community and his children. But his service to the community took a toll on his life and in September 2017 he took his own life. In a speech that recapped his life at his retirement,...

Rural Blog: Research links depression and suicide to chronic disease, especially for rural seniors

Research increasingly links depression and suicide to chronic disease, especially among seniors in rural U.S. “Rural America has some of the highest rates of chronic disease in the nation – the more remote a community, the more heart disease, cancer and diabetes. And there’s a side effect from having a chronic condition many people don’t think about – depression, anxiety and even suicide,”...

Dr. Mark Goulston: ‘Yes, your kid’ — every child is at risk for suicide, and it just keeps happening

(Editor’s note: Suicide is the second leading cause of death for Kentuckians aged 15-54. More than twice as many people die by suicide in Kentucky annually than by homicide. Teen suicides are dramatically on the rise. According to the Kentucky Department of Education, and the Kentucky Youth Risk Behavior Survey, 15 percent of Kentucky high school students (1 in 7) reported having seriously considered...

Melissa Martin: The tragedy of suicide when veterans who fought for us die by their own hands

Those who fought for our freedom are also dying by suicide on American soil.   “On the battlefield, the military pledges to leave no soldier behind. As a nation, let it be our pledge that when they return home, we leave no veteran behind,” proclaimed Dan Lipinski. In 2015, an average of 20 active duty service members, non-activated guard or reserve members, and other veterans died by suicide...

School Safety Working Group, Joint Education Committee hear testimony on mental health, security

On Monday, lawmakers on both the General Assembly’s School Safety Working Group and the Interim Joint Committee on Education heard testimony relating to the various mental health and security needs facing Kentucky students. The meeting was the third of the newly established School Safety Working Group, which came together to find ways to improve the safety of Kentucky’s schools. The group consists...

Bill requiring mental health professionals in all Kentucky schools passes house with 81-1 vote

By Tom Latek Kentucky Today Legislation aimed at making schools safer by mandating mental health professionals in Kentucky schools passed the House on Friday by a nearly unanimous vote. House Bill 604, sponsored by Rep. Will Coursey, D-Symsonia, was introduced following the Jan. 23 shooting at Marshall County High School, which left two students dead and 23 others injured, 16 with gunshot wounds. Coursey...