Celebrating our mental and behavioral health care specialists: A message from Jacqueline Kaufman, Ph.D., Emily Fredericks, Ph.D., and Kristin Kullgren, Ph.D.

May 14, 2021  //  FOUND IN: Our Employees

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. If ever there was a time to highlight the importance and relevance of mental health, it is now.

As a health system family, our mental health has been surely stretched to the limits over the course of the pandemic. The challenges are relevant for clinical health providers, researchers, learners and staff. From our respiratory therapists on COVID-19-filled ICUs, to our environmental services colleagues who helped keep patients safe by maintaining a clean space, to our researchers who had to close labs indefinitely and our learners who had to pivot during their training, there has been tremendous stress and emotional challenges.

During the initial surge in March 2020, an army of health system volunteers came together through pure grassroots organizing to respond to the need of providing mental health support for colleagues.

Mental and behavioral health faculty and staff, as well as wellness-focused colleagues from across 11 departments, divisions, programs and services, joined together upon seeing the need to structure and implement activation of the Stress Resource Team.

Lead by a rapidly developed strategic planning team, nearly 200 individuals enlisted to provide support to faculty, staff and learners struggling with the stress, fears and demands of the pandemic using multiple approaches:

  • In-person: Volunteered to provide in-person psychological first aid to faculty, staff and learners through rounding on inpatient units, as well as through team sessions and group consultations both inpatient and outpatient.
  • Resources: Volunteered to coordinate resources about mental health and signs of crisis.
  • Education: Volunteered to conduct webinars relevant to self-care, coping, and child/family support strategies.

These mental and behavioral health providers span the health system to ensure our patients and families receive the very best care, and when the call to care for our own Michigan Medicine family arose, our providers generously stepped in to create a mobile psychological first aid program.

Perhaps now more than ever, the pandemic has highlighted the importance of recognizing and prioritizing mental and behavioral health for the patients and families we serve, as well as for our health system community, outside of the demands of the pandemic.

From psychotherapy, to case management, to end-of-life support, pain management and cognitive assessments, Michigan Medicine mental and behavioral health specialists help optimize health and health care outcomes. We celebrate our mental and behavioral health care specialists during Mental Health Awareness Month!

The best way to celebrate Mental Health Awareness Month and honor mental and behavioral health care providers’ contribution is to advocate for increased mental health services within our health system and to take care of yourself. 

Screen yourself for mental health concerns, and reach out for help if you need support.

At U-M, you can get help through the Office of Counseling and Workplace Resilience, and the Department of Psychiatry.

The community offers multiple resources and your insurance provider can help you find care. If you are experiencing acute symptoms and are at risk of harming yourself, it is a medical emergency — please seek emergency services, or call the suicide prevention lifeline (1-800-273-8255) for help.

Thank you,

Jacqueline Kaufman, Ph.D., associate professor, Department of Physical Medicine, Rehabilitation Psychology/Neuropsychology

Emily Fredericks, Ph.D., professor, Department of Pediatrics, Division of Pediatric Psychology

Kristin Kullgren, Ph.D., associate professor, Department of Pediatrics, Division of Pediatric Psychology