Skip to main
University-wide Navigation

Partner Spotlight: Green River District Health Department

The Green River District Health Department (GRDHD) is located in Western Kentucky and serves seven counties – Daviess, Hancock, Henderson, McLean, Ohio, Union, and Webster.

Staff Spotlight: Michele Gulley

Michele Gulley, BH WELL’s Multimedia Support Specialist, received her Bachelors of Arts in Media Arts and Studies from the University of Kentucky (UK). She started her career at the Media Depot in William T. Young library on UK’s campus. There, she educated and coached students in video production. Michele was later introduced to the UK College of Nursing through an internship opportunity, which eventually led to her working with BH WELL.


Nurse Leader Spotlight: Karen O’Connell

Karen O’Connell, PhD, RN, FNP-BC, NEA-BC, is an associate professor in the Northern Kentucky University School of Nursing. She completed her PhD in Nursing Science from Uniformed Services University in 2012. O’Connell is now working toward a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner degree at the University of Cincinnati because of her passion for veteran care. This passion comes naturally to O’Connell, who served as an Air Force Nurse Corps Officer for 25 years. 

Artist Spotlight: Dotty K. Berryman and David Bryan Blondell

This spotlight honors and celebrates Artist Dotty Berryman and Art Director David Bryan Blondell. They make The Dimensions comics come to life! The comics are based on Behavioral Health Wellness Environments for Living and Learning (BH WELL) research that spotlights the 8 Dimensions of Wellness.

Mental Health Awareness Month May 2023

Each year millions of people navigate life with a mental or behavioral health challenge. This issue hits especially close to home in Kentucky. In 2021, 43.6% of adult Kentuckians reported experiencing symptoms of anxiety or depression and 22.8% were unable to access counseling or services, according to data reported by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).

Graduate Spotlight: Lella Still

Congratulations to Dr. Lella Still, DSW, MSW, BSW, for graduating from the University of Kentucky (UK) College of Social Work (COSW) with her Doctorate of Social Work. Dr. Still’s capstone project, “Falling from the Discharge Cliff: How Social Work Interventions can Bridge the Gap after Psychiatric Hospitalization to Improve Patient Outcomes,” explores whether phone-based transitional care interventions reduce hospital readmission rates for psychiatric patients. Dr. Still is the Social Work Director for Eastern State Hospital (ESH) and Good Samaritan Behavioral Health Units.

Graduate Spotlight: Priscilla Cho

Welcome to the Behavioral Health Wellness Environments for Living and Learning (BH WELL) Graduation Spotlight, where we celebrate the achievements of our outstanding students. Today, we shine the spotlight on Priscilla Cho, who is graduating in May 2023 from the University of Pennsylvania with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. Priscilla also works as a project assistant with BH WELL where she supports content development related to behavioral health and tobacco dependence educational resources. She has been with our team since July 2021.  

Graduation Spotlight: Hannah Brewer

Congratulations to Hannah Brewer, a Behavioral Health Wellness Environments for Living and Learning (BH WELL) Graduate Research Assistant since May 2022, for graduating with a Master’s in Social Work in May 2023 as an advanced standing student.

Graduation Spotlight: Bassema Abu-Farsakh

Congratulations to Bassema Abu-Farsakh, for graduating from the University of Kentucky (UK) College of Nursing (CON) with her PHD in nursing. Abu-Farsakh successfully defended her dissertation, “Adverse Childhood Experiences, Nicotine Dependence, and Depressive Symptoms Among Community Sample of People with Mental Illnesses” on April 6, 2023. Abu-Farsakh explains that engaging in her research was driven by the goal of eliminating the impact of adverse childhood experiences as toxic stressors on adult mental and physical health.


Graduation Spotlight: Claudia Robertson

Meet Claudia Robertson, a graduate student pursuing her doctorate in occupational therapy (OTD) at Eastern Kentucky University while working with BH WELL as a project assistant since January 2019. Claudia graduated the University of Kentucky with a BA in Psychology and a minor in Sociology in May 2021. She graduates in May 2023 with an additional BS in Occupational Science. She plans on completing her OTD in August 2025.

Graduate Spotlight: Zakery Sloan

Congratulations to Zakery Sloan, DSW, MSW, BSW, for graduating from the University of Kentucky (UK) College of Social Work (COSW) with his Doctorate of Social Work. Dr. Sloan completed his capstone project on “Neuroleadership: A New Burnout Prevention Strategy.” His work examines the current state of burnout, prevention strategies, and prevalence. It also considers how leadership theories can be used in innovative ways to prevent burnout among the public human service population. 

RiverValley Behavioral Health: “Be Kind to Your Mind” Youth Mental Health Art Contest

RiverValley Behavioral Health (RVBH) has launched their 3rd annual “Be Kind to Your Mind” Youth Mental Health Art Contest. This contest began as an avenue to promote youth mental health awareness in the wake of COVID. Students are encouraged to create any piece of art that shows what it means to them to be kind to your mind. This could be a sketch, poem, painting, or anything else a student wants to create. Contestants may submit artwork on or before April 21, 2023 for 4 divisions: grades K-4, grades 5-8, grades 9-12, and college (ages 18-24). 

Partner Spotlight: Northern Kentucky Health Department

Northern Kentucky Health Department (NKY Health) has seen great success in their mission to “prevent disease, promote wellness and protect against health threats.” This includes their work to address tobacco treatment and tobacco free policy efforts within the behavioral health organizations in their community.

Why Youth Mental Health is Essential to Healthy Development

National Youth Mental Health Awareness Month serves as a reminder each February that caring for a young person’s mental health is of the utmost importance. Youth mental health is essential to healthy development.

3 Steps to Saving Lives: Question, Persuade, and Refer

QPR is an emergency mental health intervention created in 1995, by Dr. Paul Quinnett, Clinical Psychologist. QPR stands for Question, Persuade, and Refer — the three simple steps anyone can learn to help save a life from suicide; the intent is also to identify and interrupt the crisis and direct that person to the proper care and resources.

The mission of QPR is to reduce suicidal behaviors and save lives by providing innovative,

practical, and proven suicide prevention gatekeeper training that can be completed in

approximately 1 hour.

2023: Your Year to Stop Tobacco Use

Want to quit smoking? You are not alone. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 70% of people who currently smoke want to stop. You may be considering 2023 as the year you stop smoking. January is “Take a New Year's Resolution to Stop Smoking” month (TANYRSS) which makes it a great time to stop.

2022 BH WELL Award Winners

The University of Kentucky’s Behavioral Health Wellness Environments for Living and Learning (BH WELL) has announced the inaugural winners of two behavioral health tobacco treatment awards. The awards were presented on November 9, 2022, at  BH WELL’s workshop, Recovery in Mental and Behavioral Health: Tackling the Hidden Epidemic of Tobacco Use.

Partner Spotlight: Franklin County Health Department

Franklin County Health Department’s (FCHD) mission to “Prevent, Promote, and Protect” supports better health outcomes for their community. Specifically, their success in strengthening tobacco policy in the state of Kentucky places them in the spotlight. FCHD is partnering with the Behavioral Health Wellness Environments for Living and Learning (BH WELL) research team to support behavioral health organizations in advancing tobacco-free policy and tobacco dependence treatment services for individuals living with mental illness on their journey to stop tobacco use.

UK College of Nursing’s Dr. Okoli inducted into International Nurse Researcher Hall of Fame

BH WELL’s Executive Director, Chizimuzo Okoli Ph.D., MPH, MSN, PMHNP-BC, APRN, NCTTP, FAAN was inducted into the Sigma Theta Tau International Nurse Researcher Hall of Fame. He received this honor at Sigma’s 33rd International Nursing Research Congress in July 2022 along with 32 nurse researchers from across the globe.