UK Conference to Address Mental, Behavioral Health Issues in Military

News - 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

News - 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

News - 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,

Doctoral Candidate Wins Award for Paper on UK Prison Exchange Course

News - Fri, 03/13/2015 - 3:16pm

LEXINGTON, Ky. (March 16, 2015) — Molly Malany Sayre, a doctoral candidate in the University of Kentucky College of Social Work, has been awarded the 2015 Teaching Social Problems Paper Award from the Society for the Study of Social Problems (SSSP).


Sayre, of Cincinnati, Ohio, received the award for her paper focusing on an Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program course at UK, which comprises UK students, or "outside" students, and incarcerated individuals in the Blackburn Correctional Complex in Lexington, or "inside" students.


Sayre was a teaching assistant for Professor Michelle Staton-Tindall's Fall 2014 class. Offered by the College of Social Work, the UK course examined the use and abuse of substances and their relationship to crime through the analysis of sociological and clinical social work theories.


In her paper, Sayre explores the implications of the Inside-Out course for outside students’ reification and recognition of people who are incarcerated, and by extension, members of groups that typically receive social work services.


The Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program was developed in 1997 at Temple University and founded on the premise that incarcerated individuals and college students had a significant amount to learn from each other when studying together as peers in the same environment. The program is currently successfully operating in more than 300 prison institutions and college/university programs worldwide.


Sayre will receive a cash award of $100, a certificate of recognition, a one year membership to SSSP, and will present her paper at the 2015 SSSP Annual Meeting in August.  




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

Eliminating the Stigma: Suicide Attempt Survivor Sharing Her Story at UK

News - Mon, 03/09/2015 - 9:35am

LEXINGTON, Ky. (March 10, 2015) — "Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S., and it's on the rise. And here we are, afraid of it. I'm convinced that the simple act of getting people to talk about it will save lives. It's a serious public health issue, and one we can do something about if we can just set our fears aside," writes Dese'Rae L. Stage on her website,


Stage — photographer, writer, suicide awareness advocate and suicide attempt survivor — will speak about her public awareness project, Live Through This, and her own experience as a suicide attempt survivor at the University of Kentucky Thursday, March 12.


The event is free and open to the public, and will be from 5:30-7 p.m. in the Hardymon Theater at the Davis Marksbury Building, located off Rose Street.


Live Through This, a collection of portraits and stories of suicide attempt survivors, is a public awareness project created by Stage that encourages survivors to own their experiences publicly, aiming to reduce the silence, shame and stigma associated with suicide attempts. 


Sponsored by several UK colleges and departments, including the Department of Family Sciences, School of Human Environmental Sciences, and Family and Consumer Sciences Extension in the UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, as well as the UK Counseling Center, Department of Psychology and UK College of Social Work, the event aims to encourage open dialogue about suicide. 


"It is incredibly important to hear the voices of people who have attempted suicide and survived in order to better understand how to prevent future suicides," said Julie Cerel, associate professor in the UK College of Social Work, licensed psychologist and board chair of the American Association of Suicidology.


Laura Frey, a doctoral candidate in the Department of Family Sciences, initiated the event in relation to her current research on suicide attempt disclosure on college campuses. Frey was awarded an Active Minds Emerging Scholars Fellowship to analyze interviews with suicide attempt survivors about their experiences with suicide disclosure. From her findings, Frey will develop a model that provides information regarding factors that could increase the likelihood for disclosure and the factors that can foster a safe environment to facilitate continued disclosure in the future.


"Suicide stigma prevents us from seeing the human experiences behind each attempt and makes us think that talking about suicide has to be scary," said Frey. "Dese'Rae's work advocating for attempt survivors allows us to learn from real people with real stories, reinforcing the idea that talking about suicide can actually empower and initiate positive change."


Stage and her project Live Through This have been nationally recognized by media and suicide prevention groups, and as of February 2015, she has photographed 115 suicide attempt survivors in 13 U.S. cities.


In addition to her perspective as a suicide attempt survivor, Stage is also trained in suicide prevention. She graduated with a bachelor's in psychology from East Tennessee State University in 2005 and is QPR Gatekeeper trained, which includes how to recognize the warning signs of a suicide crisis and how to question, persuade, and refer someone to help. Stage is also an ASIST-trained caregiver. ASIST (Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training) teaches effective intervention skills while helping to build suicide prevention networks in the community.


Mary Chandler Bolin, director of the UK Counseling Center, is also QPR certified, as a senior master trainer, and instructs the training at UK.


"In the U.S., there is still tremendous stigma around mental health concerns broadly and related to suicide specifically — which silences suicide attempters and those with the potential to intervene," Bolin  said.




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

College of Social Work Dean's Distinguished Lecture Series to Feature Human Trafficking Expert

News - Wed, 02/18/2015 - 10:55am

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Feb. 24, 2015) — As part of the University of Kentucky College of Social Work's Dean's Distinguished Lecture Series, Noël Bridget Busch-Armendariz, director of the Institute on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault (IDVSA) at the University of Texas at Austin, will be on campus discussing human trafficking in the United States on Feb. 27.


Busch-Armendariz will deliver her talk on current and key issues related to the trafficking of adults and children in the United States from 10 to 11:30 a.m., Friday, Feb. 27, in the President's Room at the Singletary Center for the Arts. The event is free and open to the public.


“Human trafficking is an ongoing and growing international and domestic phenomenon involving the enslavement, fraud and coercion of adults and children alike. It is a demoralizing and devastating violation of human rights for victims and survivors who have endured the abuses and cruelty involved in this ongoing global and domestic market," said Amanda West, assistant professor in the College of Social Work and a licensed clinical social worker. "Therefore, it is of the utmost importance that this area be discussed, and that we educate ourselves and our community on its impact on all levels."


The professor and associate dean of research at the School of Social Work at The University of Texas at Austin has been working within the area of human trafficking for over a decade, and has more than 20 years of experience working to end interpersonal violence. She has authored a number of scholarly publications on the topic, currently writing a textbook on human trafficking, and recently received a $500,000 grant to map the trafficking of domestic minors in the state of Texas.


A licensed social worker and editor-in-chief of Affilia: Journal of Women and Social Work, Busch-Armendariz is regularly called as an expert witness in criminal, civil and immigration cases. She has also directed research totaling more than $5.3 million dollars in external funding for the National Institute of Justice, Office for Victims of Crime, Office on Violence Against Women, Office of the Attorney General of Texas, Texas Association Against Sexual Assault, and the Texas Health and Human Services Commission.


“We are fortunate to have the prolific scholar Dr. Busch-Armendariz visit our campus.  I highly encourage the UK and Lexington community to attend and weigh in on this timely topic,” said Ike Adams, College of Social Work dean and Dorothy A. Miller Professor in Social Work Education.




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