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UK Conference to Address Mental, Behavioral Health Issues in Military

Mon, 05/04/2015 - 9:52am

LEXINGTON, Ky. (May 5, 2015) — "It’s critically important that professionals who work with military and veteran populations understand the military as a unique culture, with its own rules and rituals, but most importantly its own value system," said Chris Flaherty, associate professor in the UK College of Social Work.


Flaherty worked for 20 years in U.S. Air Force mental health and social services systems, and is currently preparing, along with others, for a one-day conference Friday, May 8, that will help mental and behavioral health professionals better serve their military clients.


Hosted by the UK College of Social Work in partnership with the UK Department of Family Sciences in the UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, Veterans Resource Center and the Lexington VA Medical Center, the "Contemporary Perspectives on Treating Veterans, Military Members, and their Families" conference will be held from 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. at the Campbell House, located at 1375 South Broadway in Lexington.


The conference will cover state of the art and best practices for supporting veterans, military members and military families. Attendees will hear from Col. Jennifer Humphries, director of the Army-Fayetteville State University Master of Social Work Program and a leading expert in military behavioral health, on current trends in military social work.


Following her plenary speech, breakout sessions will address topics such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), military sexual trauma, suicide, supporting military families, military cultural competence, student veterans and more.


Recent research findings on veterans' exposure to suicide will also be presented by Julie Cerel, UK College of Social Work associate professor, licensed psychologist and president-elect of the American Association of Suicidology.


Her research shows that almost half of veterans have lifetime exposure to suicide. The study also found that if a veteran was exposed to a suicide first and was later exposed to a traumatic death in their military career, such as someone dying in combat, the veteran had a worse reaction than if the sequence was reversed. Cerel will explain these and other significant findings at the conference.


The cost to attend is $120 until May 7. On the day of the conference, May 8, the cost will be $160. The price includes six hours of continuing education credits, as well as lunch.


Continuing education credits for the conference are approved by the Kentucky Board of Social Work; the Kentucky Board of Psychological Examiners; the Kentucky Board of Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselors; the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker and Marriage and Family Therapist Board; and the Kentucky Board of Nursing.


“With the daunting challenges facing our veterans, service members, and military families, and the demands recent and ongoing military operations are placing on military, as well as community-based behavioral health care systems, it is imperative that providers are trained in assessment and treatment models proven to be effective with this population," Flaherty said.


For more information, or to register, visit    




MEDIA CONTACT: Whitney Harder, 859-323-2396,

UK College of Social Work Inducting Two New Members Into Hall of Fame

Tue, 04/28/2015 - 1:29pm

LEXINGTON, Ky. (April 29, 2015) — Recognizing the distinguished accomplishments of University of Kentucky College of Social Work alumni who have made exceptional contributions to the field, the college will induct two honorees into its Hall of Fame at a ceremony this evening, April 29.


The UK College of Social Work has been inducting members into its Hall of Fame annually since 1999. These individuals are deemed outstanding in the profession by their colleagues and are chosen by a committee of their peers.


This year, Dorothy Conolia Offutt and Eileen A. Recktenwald will be inducted.


Dorothy Conolia Offutt


Dorothy Conolia Offutt was born in Owensboro, Kentucky, and raised in Central City. She received her bachelor’s degree in health and physical education and a master’s degree in education from Western Kentucky University, and her Master of Social Work degree from the University of Kentucky. She is currently employed as social work supervisor at the Lexington Veteran's Administration Medical Center where she serves as the social work education coordinator and works with multiple universities to secure master-level social work interns.


The medical center went from zero stipend interns to 13 for the academic year 2015-2016, which is 20 percent of all VA interns in the nation. To evince her love for the profession and the community, Offutt provides countless hours of service both professionally and civically. An article was published in Synergy, the national VA social work newsletter, and the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. newsletter, which referenced her numerous accomplishments including receiving the Lyman T. Johnson Torch of Excellence award from UK. She has also served as director of the Retired Senior Volunteer Program, which provides Fayette and Jessamine counties with over 300,000 hours of service annually. Offutt and her husband of 44 years, Don Carlos Offutt, have two children; a daughter, Dawn, a son Don II and one grandson, Donovan.


Eileen A. Recktenwald


Eileen A. Recktenwald has been the executive director of the Kentucky Association of Sexual Assault Programs (KASAP), the statewide coalition of the 13 regional rape crisis centers, located in Kentucky’s capital, Frankfort, since 2001. She is a graduate of the University of Maryland and the University of Kentucky, where she earned her Master of Social Work degree.


Recktenwald was the first KASAP director and provided direct advocacy services at a domestic violence shelter located in the Appalachian region of Kentucky for five years. She also directed and provided advocacy services to child sexual assault victims at a rape crisis center for 11 years. For the last 10 years, Recktenwald has been focused on the primary prevention of sexual violence and changing the social norms that encourage interpersonal violence.




MEDIA CONTACT: Whitney Harder, 859-323-2396,

UK's Cerel Debunks Common Statistic at National Suicidology Conference

Wed, 04/22/2015 - 6:04pm

LEXINGTON, Ky. (April 24, 2015) — Since the 1960s, the number six has been commonly used to describe how many people are left behind after each death by suicide. Last week, Julie Cerel, licensed psychologist and associate professor in the University of Kentucky College of Social Work, debunked that statistic, leading to a trending topic on Twitter featuring the "#not6" hashtag.


"The number six is not based on evidence but is a best guess that has been widely promulgated," Cerel said, adding further, “it is just not true.”


In her plenary presentation at the 48th Annual American Association of Suicidology Conference, of which she is now president-elect, Cerel presented her team's results from Military Suicide Research Consortium-funded data that calculated a different number.


They found that 115 people were exposed to each suicide, of whom 25 were deeply impacted and "probably in need of services."


"That's a lot more than six, hence the #not6," Cerel said.


The audience took to Twitter with photos and facts from her presentation, along with the hashtag. To view the many #not6 tweets, visit the Storify curation, a list of tweets featuring the hashtag:


In addition to her successful plenary, Cerel was involved in three presentations and five posters. One of those posters, first-authored by Judy van de Venne, a former UK College of Social Work post-doctoral researcher, won the Professional Poster Award.


Laura Frey, a student of Cerel's, who recently defended her dissertation in family science and will join the University of Louisville College of Social Work as a faculty member next fall, also gave an invited paper presentation as part of winning the annual Morton M. Silverman Student Award. 




MEDIA CONTACT: Whitney Harder, 859-323-2396,