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November 1, 2018

The Student Bar Association (SBA) hosted the first entirely student-led Mental Health Day event at UK Law last month, bringing together students and key resources to enhance and support mental health.  This initiative featured guest speakers and multiple vendors from the community who shared information regarding valuable resources available to students. 

“The law school has brought awareness to mental health in the past,” said Carlin Conway, a third-year law student and vice president of SBA, who spearheaded this effort, “but (has) never hosted a student-led event of this magnitude.” He said he wanted to organize and implement this event because mental health support is not talked about enough. In his initiative to get this event started, Carlin pulled together SBA’s executive board, David Wright, Assistant Dean of Students at UK Law, and Jane Grise, Director of Academic Enhancement and Assistant Professor of Legal Research and Writing at UK Law.

“The students brought in a broad range of resources from the Lexington community. They had business and entities ranging from healthy eating to fitness to relaxation and mindfulness centers, to mental health treatment,” said Dean Wright.  “We know individual health and wellness can be impacted by awareness of and access to these resources, so SBA really did a great job bringing in resources from a broad spectrum.”

Yvette Hourigan, Executive Director of Kentucky Lawyers Assistance Program (KYLAP) and graduate of UK Law, spoke about the services that KYLAP has to offer to address mental health issues and substance abuse among lawyers and law students.  Cristina Keith, a local attorney, spoke about her personal journey in law. Both speakers talked passionately about how important it is to take care of your mental health while in law school, recommended ways to do so, and stressed that it is okay to seek help. Kyle Burnell, third-year law student and SBA President, spoke about the need for students to take care of themselves and to reach out for help when appropriate.

“The students were very engaged,” according to Professor Grise.  She indicated that the room was at capacity for this informative presentation by the speakers.

“The turnout and support surpassed my expectations. Students and professors messaged me after the event saying how much they enjoyed and appreciated it,” said Conway.

The event included many local resources from the community: Breathe, Core Life Eatery, Healthy Way Lex, Kentucky Lawyer Assistant Program (KYLAP), Kentucky One Health, Lexington Counseling & Psychiatry, Mind Body Studio, Mind Over Body, Orange Theory Fitness, Rest Assured Massage and Spa, The Yoga Meditation and Therapy Center, UK Campus Wellness, UK Counseling Center and UK Wellness Initiative.                                              

“The vendors provided fantastic resources related to mental health and overall wellness,” said Conway.  “(They) were happy to be a part of this event and expressed interest in being contacted for future events.”

“SBA deserves a lot of credit for leading the Mental Health Day program. This is just part of their increased efforts to build a positive community within the College, but it is such an important part, and I know their efforts to promote student wellbeing will continue to grow,” said Dean Wright.

“I wanted this to be an event that law students could come to with their friends and classmates and get the resources to help if they needed it without feeling stigmatized. My goal was to send a message to anyone who may be suffering and let them know they are not alone, and help is out there.  I feel that we have accomplished that,” said Conway.

This student-led event at UK Law was funded by a grant from the American Bar Association Law Student Division.