Kentucky State University hosted inaugural HBCU Mental Health Summit
In the midst of a global health pandemic and deepening racial tensions, the Kentucky State University Division of Student Engagement and Campus Life and its Center for Emotional Wellness recently hosted the two-day inaugural HBCU Mental Health Summit.
A virtual event, held during Minority Mental Health Month, brought together 130 mental health professionals, faculty, student affairs staff, consultants and graduate students from more than 25 HBCUs to explore issues related to the theme of “Supporting Students in the Era of COVID-19 and Racial Trauma.”
Featuring nationally recognized keynote presenters, breakout workshop and strategy sessions, networking opportunities, town hall meetings, and a celebration of HBCUs program, the Summit was a powerful opportunity for learning and sharing of critical information to advance services to students at this critical moment.
The talents of the Kentucky State University community were featured prominently in the Summit. Mental health counselor LaShonda Sims Duncan delivered transformational mindfulness moments, with her colleague William Mynk facilitating a spirited lunch and learn session. In addition, a panel of Kentucky State students in the L.E.A.D. 1886 Leadership Academy shared their experiences actively participating in protesting, supporting rallies, learning away from campus, and the interruption of activities such as sports, running for office and Greek life.
Panelists included Yasmine Harper, Ashley Hayes, Miana Wallace, Gyannella Vega-Ortega, and SGA President-Elect Kirk Miller. Dr. Lori Hicks, interim chair of the School of Humanities and Performing Arts, also presented a highly received workshop entitled “Mind Music: The Role of Music in Mental Health.”
Dr. Linda J.M. Holloway, associate professor of counseling and program coordinator at Alabama State University, said, “If it had not been for this amazing program, this information would not have been put forth into the atmosphere. You are touching lives! I hope you all do it again and again. The Summit was excellent.”
Tecla Coleman, a graduate student at Dartmouth University who will be interning in the fall at Kentucky State, affirmed these sentiments: “I’m loving all of this, I needed this,” Coleman said. “Not just as a practicum experience, but for my life.”
This Summit, as well as the upcoming HBCU Student Leadership Summit, was envisioned by Dr. Derek Greenfield, Vice President for Student Engagement and Campus Life/Chief Diversity Officer, as an effort to help students.
“The HBCU world needs these opportunities to build community and strengthen our skill sets to best support our wonderful students, and Kentucky State deserves to be the leader for this work,” Greenfield said.
Dr. Pernella Deams, Dean of Student Leadership, Conduct, and Health, and Dr. Anthony Andrews, Director of the Center for Emotional Wellness, served as co-chairs for the Steering Committee and joined Dr. Greenfield as facilitators for the Summit.
“I was excited to see the HBCU community and our partners collaborate with a focus on the wellness and the voice of students during this time,” Deams said.