University Medical Center, the community medical practice run by the College of Community Health Sciences, observed Mental Health Awareness during the month of May. In addition to fact sheets distributed to patients in its clinics, and digital signage placed throughout the building and across campus, each week in May featured a special WVUA Health Matters segment related specifically to mental health and presented by various physicians and clinical staff of the CCHS Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine Department.
UMC also hosted faculty and staff oriented events to build awareness during May. For example, Bob McKinney, a clinical social worker at UMC, spent time in the clinics, working with faculty, staff, and learners—individually and in small groups— to offer guidance about ways to incorporate mindfulness into daily activities.
In addition, Dr. Nancy Rubin led two, 30-minute sessions focused on Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), also known as Tapping. This form of psychological acupressure uses the same energy meridians as practiced in Chinese medicine for more than 5,000 years. Instead of using needles, fingertips are used to tap on those meridians to decrease stress and increase a sense of calm.
Faculty and staff were also encouraged to wear Mental Health Awareness Month t-shirts each Friday in May, and around their community daily, to help break the stigma of mental illness.
The observation of Mental Health Awareness Month is in line with the College’s mission to improve and promote the health of individuals and communities in Alabama. This mission extends past the month of May throughout the year. Recently, the College partnered with Tuscaloosa Fire and Rescue to implement the new ACTION program, the first-of-its-kind program in Alabama that aims to meet the less critical medical needs of the community and reduce costly hospital emergency room transports of individuals with low-emergency conditions. As it relates to mental health needs, program vehicles transport mental health and social workers to support our community in times of emergency when the ailment is not physical. This new program enables the College and UMC to continue to develop patient-centered community health outreach in service of the Tuscaloosa area.