StAMINA Releases Student-Led Podcast “Brain Waves”

On any given day, I would estimate that I listen to two or so hours of podcasts. Between a commute that’s often extended by traffic, an energetic dog that requires lengthy walks, and day-to-day chores made more enjoyable with interesting commentary, podcasts are a cornerstone to my everyday routine. It seems that I am not alone in this practice, with the number of Americans listening to podcasts consistently rising 10-20% from year to year. Podcasts allow people to conveniently explore new topics, indulge in their passions, find solidarity among their peers, and make valuable connections.

In September 2018, the Student Alliance for Mental Health Innovation and Action (StAMINA) hosted an “Ideathon” to convene students, parents, educators, and mental health professionals to brainstorm and prototype products and programs around the design challenge: How might we educate and empower families to prioritize youth mental health? One of the answers to this challenge? Quite appropriately, a podcast!

After eight months of student-driven work, StAMINA is releasing their podcast, “Brain Waves.” Students are all too often left out of the mental health conversation and have difficulty finding spaces to learn and discuss the challenges or questions they may have. By utilizing a popular and easily accessible platform to communicate educational and inspirational messages, StAMINA has created a pathway for students to get engaged. “Brain Waves” is StAMINA’s way of prioritizing and amplifying youth voices, increasing mental health awareness, and decreasing stigma. Through stories and interviews, you’ll hear the perspectives of students who tackle these issues in their everyday lives. The season kicks off with an in-depth exploration of the history, definitions, and advocacy surrounding mental health. Throughout the rest of the season, listeners can expect to learn about specific mental health illnesses as well as challenges all students face in their everyday lives. Tips and resources will be highlighted, both from student and expert perspectives.

You don’t have to be a student to listen to and benefit from “Brain Waves.” If you’re interested in incorporating student perspectives into your work, curious about youth experiences with mental health, or you care about improving adolescents’ well-being, “Brain Waves” is the podcast for you. Their first episode in now available for download on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts. The season will feature 13 episodes, with a new one being released every Friday.

I have been fortunate enough to participate on the “Brain Waves” team throughout its development and am excited to see the impact that this initiative will have. The passion these students have for claiming their role in the combating the mental health crisis and helping their peers is unparalleled. As a self-proclaimed podcast aficionado, I can confirm that this podcast is one worth adding to your weekly lineup.

Mental Health Month a Time to Focus on the Connection between Physical and Mental Health

(Note: This guest piece was written by Marcie Timmerman, Executive Director of Mental Health America of Kentucky)

Marcie Timmerman
Executive Director
Mental Health America of Kentucky

Mental health is essential to everyone’s overall health and well-being, and mental illnesses are common and treatable. So much of what we do physically impacts us mentally. It is important to pay attention to both your physical health and your mental health, which can help you achieve overall wellness and set you on a path to recovery.

Did you know that Mental Health America (MHA) founded May as Mental Health Month back in 1949? That means this year marks MHA’s 70th year celebrating Mental Health Month! This May, Mental Health America of Kentucky is expanding its focus from 2018 and raising awareness about the connection between physical health and mental health, through the theme #4Mind4Body. We are exploring the topics of animal companionship, spirituality and religion, humor, work-life balance, and recreation and social connections as ways to boost mental health and general wellness.

A healthy lifestyle can help to prevent the onset or worsening of mental health conditions, as well as chronic conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. It can also help people recover from these conditions. For those dealing with a chronic health condition and the people who care for them, it can be especially important to focus on mental health. When dealing with dueling diagnoses, focusing on both physical and mental health concerns can be daunting but critically important in achieving overall wellness.

There are things you can do that may help. Finding a reason to laugh, going for a walk with a friend, meditating, playing with a pet, or working from home once a week can go a long way in making you both physically and mentally healthy. The company of animals – whether as pets or service animals – can have a profound impact on a person’s quality of life and ability to recover from illnesses. A pet can be a source of comfort and can help us to live mentally healthier lives. And whether you go to church, meditate daily, or simply find time to enjoy that cup of tea each morning while checking in with yourself– it can be important to connect with your spiritual side in order to find that mind-body connection.

Mental illnesses are real, and recovery is always the goal. Living a healthy lifestyle may not be easy but can be achieved by gradually making small changes and building on those successes. Finding the balance between work and play, the ups and downs of life, physical health, and mental health, can help you on the path towards focusing both #4Mind4Body.

Everyone has mental health. Isn’t it time we start taking care of it?

Concerned about yourself or someone you love? Take a free online mental health screening here.

PRESS RELEASE: High School students examine mental health stigma in KY teens

Findings: Adult, peer views on mental health contribute to stigma

Press Release by Hayley Kappes, University of Louisville

LOUISVILLE, KY September 6, 2018 – Parents who refuse to take their children to therapy because they don’t believe in mental health treatment. School counselors who have told students to stop crying because they’re “fine.” Teens further ashamed of mental illness because of negative portrayals in the media. These are some of the experiences that a high school student group, mentored by a University of Louisville clinical psychologist, has gathered from peers across Kentucky during yearlong research into factors that contribute to mental health stigma in teens.

Allison Tu

Allison Tu, a senior at duPont Manual High School who led the student group, and Stephen O’Connor, PhD, associate director of the UofL Depression Center who guided the students in research, will present findings during the Kentuckiana Health Collaborative Community Forum on Tuesday, Sept. 11, from 8 to 10 a.m. at the UofL Clinical and Translational Research Building, 505 S. Hancock St. After the forum, a Question. Persuade. Refer. (QPR) Suicide Prevention Training by the Louisville Health Advisory Board will take place.

The student group, comprised of teens across the state, is called the Student Alliance for Mental Health Innovation and Action (StAMINA) and is supported by the Kentuckiana Health Collaborative, a nonprofit organization that aims to improve health and the health care delivery system in greater Louisville and Kentucky.

StAMINA conducted a needs assessment of the state and held focus groups in urban and rural areas with high school students and parents to uncover what interferes with students acknowledging they have mental health issues and receiving treatment. The group also interviewed mental health professionals and pediatricians.

Factors that contributed to mental health stigma among high school students included negative representation of mental health in media and stigma from peers and parents who do not have a positive attitude about mental health, Tu said. The group found differences between rural and urban residents.

“Because there is more racial and ethnic diversity in urban settings, one of the big drivers of mental health stigma is ethnic heritage,” Tu said. “African-American and Asian-American students talked a lot about how culturally, mental health was often ignored. With rural students, generally there was more stigma resulting from religious factors. Some students said they would talk to their parents about mental health issues, and their parents would respond, ‘you’re not praying enough.’”

Stephen O’Connor, PhD

Messages that parents express about mental health impact a child’s views, said O’Connor, who guided the research design, and taught the students how to lead focus groups and conduct qualitative data analysis.

“The gatekeeper for getting children to treatment is often going to be a parent, so parental views on mental health are likely going to impact whether a child is taken to treatment,” O’Connor said. “The parent also is helping the child understand what they’re experiencing, so if the parent doesn’t have a good idea about what symptoms of mental illness represent, then the child is probably not going to understand either.”

Solutions to mental health stigma among teens may include a new mental health education requirement for high school freshmen or a social media campaign to amplify the visibility of resources, said Tu, who also stressed the need for parents to be educated on mental health issues and resources available for their children.

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It’s Not Too Late to Promote World Diabetes Day Efforts to Protect our Future

(Note: This guest blog post was written by Andrea Doughty, Louisville Metro Department of Health & Wellness and Co-chair of the Louisville Health Advisory Board Diabetes Committee)

This November we ‘celebrated’ World Diabetes Day (WDD). Led by the International Diabetes Federation, WDD unites the global diabetes community to produce a powerful voice for diabetes advocacy, and awareness to the impact that diabetes has on individuals, our communities and our world.

In Kentucky, 1 in 8 Kentuckians have diabetes, 27.8% are presently undiagnosed, and don’t know they have diabetes.* Even more worrisome, 1 in 3 Kentuckians have pre-diabetes, a reversible cardio metabolic risk factor in which plasma glucose levels are above normal but not high enough to diagnose type 2 diabetes.   With pre-diabetes alone, a person has a 3-5 times higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes* as well as an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and death. Of the 1 in 3 estimated to have pre-diabetes in our state, 9 of 10 don’t know they have it.*

These statistics are staggering and highlight the need for better understanding of the risk of diabetes, as well as systems that connect those at risk to sufficient, preventative, and supportive care.

With this in mind, a group of local organizations, including the YMCA, Metro United Way, the Kentuckiana Health Collaborative, Norton’s Office of Church and Health Ministries, KIPDA, and Louisville Metro Public Health and Wellness, connected with a state wide initiative led by the Kentucky Diabetes Network. This group met to plan and coordinate Diabetes awareness day activities in the KIPDA region. The group focused its planning on an awareness campaign to bring diabetes risk screening to where people live work, pray and play in the KIPDA region, so that all people have the opportunity to know their risk, and more importantly, know how to connect to evidence based interventions for diabetes and prediabetes.

In the KIPDA region, we are lucky to have several providers using evidence based interventions for diabetes, and the screening campaign hopes to raise awareness of these services. Diabetes education is a collaborative process through which people with, or at risk for, diabetes gain the knowledge and skills needed to modify behavior and successfully self-manage the disease and its related conditions. Skill building is accomplished through multiple sessions that can be delivered where people live and work.

With this in mind, the following ASK drove the group’s efforts;

A Spread Awareness of the Risk factors of Diabetes. Encourage people to know their numbers and risk factors. Plan an event, bring in a speaker, and distribute materials to inform your sphere of influence on the risk of diabetes.

S Screening– Use the diabetes risk test to help individuals assess their risk for Diabetes.

K Key Follow-up- Call Metro United Way 211 or one of the provider partners to learn more about local programs and services that can help prevent and manage diabetes.

In addition to marketing and distributing an evidence-based toolkit for diabetes risk screening, the group worked to develop a pipeline to shepherd people through risk awareness to connection to evidence based support and diabetes care. Though knowledge is the first step, the ultimate goal of the campaign is to inspire people to take action once they know their risk of diabetes or get the support they need if they are already dealing with the disease.  The screening campaign will continue through the first of the year, and the diabetes risk screening is currently available in print copy, online at, and through text by texting ‘myrisk’ to 898-211. Once completed, these screening tools direct users to Metro United way’s 211 information line, where operators are then equipped to make referrals to our various local providers of Diabetes Self-Management Education and Support and the National Diabetes Prevention Program.

We are approaching our goal of 10,000 local distributions of the Diabetes risk test, but it is not too late to involve your group in this initiative. If you would like to partner with us to make your communities of influence healthier, contact Andrea Doughty,, Louisville Metro Public Health and Wellness for more information on how you can bring better awareness of diabetes risk to your group.

* Referenced from 2017 KY Diabetes Report

High School Students Found Action Group to Improve KY Youth Mental Health

Guest Blog written by Allison Tu, Junior, duPont Manual High School

I’m Allison Tu, a junior at duPont Manual High School in Louisville, and I recently founded an action group called the Student Alliance for Mental Health Innovation and Action, or StAMINA for short. StAMINA is student-driven group on a mission to change the state of student mental health in Kentucky.

We formed this group as a response to the mental health challenges we noticed our friends and peers at our magnet school experiencing, ranging from stress and anxiety to depression and even suicidality. Even though students seemed to be struggling with significant mental health challenges, no one seemed to be doing much about it. We watch the same exact suicide prevention video at the beginning every year and that’s where the mental health conversation abruptly starts and ends. As students, we’re consistently unwilling to broach the subject of mental health for fears of the immense stigma surrounding mental health and have been left to suffer silently.

Our personal experiences were confirmed by district, state, and national data. Adolescent mental health issues are at an alarming all-time high among Kentucky youth—rates of depression, anxiety, and the “self-medication” associated with substance abuse are skyrocketing among Kentucky students. One in ten Kentucky youth suffer at least one major depressive episode every year and one in three Kentucky adolescents report they are so sad, anxious, or hopeless they have stopped pursuing activities that they normally enjoy. Half of Jefferson County students indicate they feel depressed, anxious, or hopeless up to 50% of the time. An alarming two out of three Kentucky adolescents affected by depression receive no treatment and the average national gap between onset of mental health symptoms and treatment is a full decade.

Mental health, however, is incredibly important for well-being and academic and extracurricular performance. Unaddressed mental health challenges can quickly lead into the even more severe substance abuse and suicide. Almost 40% of students affected by mental illness drop out of school, the highest dropout rate for any disability group.

These shocking statistics combined with the stories we live and hear every day are what drove us to create StAMINA. Our mission is simple and urgent: to decrease the stigma surrounding mental illness and increase effective mental health prevention and treatment services for Kentucky youth. State and local government sponsors have been successfully enlisted to the cause, as well as community leaders and school administrators. However, we fervently believe top-down approaches to youth services are insufficient and, instead, must be married to student and stakeholder insights and voice, if they are to succeed.

Consequently, we have embarked on a three-pronged, youth-driven approach to identify new ways to address adolescent mental health needs. The first step is a wide-ranging needs assessment, which will augment the dry, impersonal prevalence statistics with in-person interviews and roundtables with students and stakeholders across Kentucky (e.g., parents, pediatricians, guidance counselors etc.). A follow-on formal conference is planned for early 2018, where students, mentors, and stakeholders will leverage the assessment’s findings in hackathon-like workshop sessions structured to innovate and plan new outreach strategies and programs. The third step zeros in on decisive action and will likely include designing a social media campaign to reduce stigma and increase mental health awareness, advocating for new suicide prevention and mental health training in schools, lobbying for new screening initiatives at schools and doctor’s offices, promoting the use of digital behavioral health apps and tools that appeal to the youth population, as well as numerous other youth-identified best practices and innovations.

We believe that each and every student deserves access to the services and infrastructure that lead to strong mental health, and we will fight for these fundamental needs to be met.

HealthDoers Network: The “Facebook” of Health Improvement

If you work to improve community health and healthcare, then you are officially a “HealthDoer” and would benefit from the HealthDoers Network. We think of it as the Facebook platform of health improvement. The network provides trusted peer-to-peer forums and programming to support those working to improve community health and healthcare.

Randy Chenard, Executive Director, HealthDoers Network, Network for Regional Healthcare Improvement (NRHI), attended last week’s All Member meeting to introduce the network funded by The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and launched by NRHI. Randy explained the goal of the network is to promote a broader multi-stakeholder approach to addressing community health.

One of the biggest questions asked when developing a strategy to address any community health issue is whether any other communities have done similar work successfully. The HealthDoers Network provides a platform to connect to articles, experts, and initiatives happening across the country on a variety of topics

The online and in-person offerings are designed to rapidly identify and spread what works, foster meaningful connections, and incorporate participant feedback to set priorities. Some organizations have even chosen to develop their own private network platform for sharing information across their internal network to expedite best practice learning and adoption.

If you would like to learn more about HealthDoers, call the KHC office at 502-238-3603. You may learn more about HealthDoers by visiting

Greater Louisville Project Health Report 2013 – Continuing the Conversation

The Greater Louisville Project has released a 2013 Health Report that assesses the health of Louisville compared with the 14 cities that have long served as its competitive peers. It identifies our community’s most challenging health factors, including low educational attainment, unemployment, high rates of smoking and obesity, low access to primary care and poor air quality. The report also highlights the disparity amount our neighborhoods.  

Continue the Conversation –  Register for the Innovation Lab:

GLP is hosting an Innovation Lab at the IdeaFestival on September 24 from 9-10am. They are planning a highly interactive, engaging session that asks participants to brainstorm around solutions for building a healthier Louisville within respective community roles. Here is the link to register if you have not already:

Kentucky Health Quality Collaborative Conference

Wednesday, August 24, 2011
8:30 AM – 4:00 PM
Capital Plaza
405 Wilkinson Blvd., Frankfort, KY 40601 

Bringing Kentuckians who get care, give care, purchase care, and and pay for care to work together toward common, fundamental objectives to improve the health of all Kentuckians.  Join us as we learn about current quality improvement efforts in Kentucky, address changes occurring through health reform and national efforts to improve the quality of health care, and help shape a collaborative quality roadmap for Kentucky that supports building a healthier Kentucky.

Co-hosted by:  Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky, Friedell Committee for Health System Transformation, Health Care Excel, Humana, Kentucky Hospital Association, Kentucky Primary Care Association, Kentucky Voices for Health, Norton Healthcare, UAW/Ford Community Health & Kentuckiana Health Collaborative, and UK HealthCare