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Wes Moore on Changing the Stigma Associated with Mental Health

February 19, 2019

In the first Redefining Mental Health event of 2019, GSPP and its Center for Oncology Psychology Excellence (COPE) hosted Wes Moore, CEO of Robin Hood and the best-selling author of The Other Wes Moore. In his keynote speech and in his Q&A with GSPP dean Shelly Smith-Acuña, Moore discussed the ways in which his childhood experiences shaped his life's work, the promises and controversies surrounding resilience-building care, and the role professional psychology can play in addressing systemic and individualized challenges of poverty. In front of a capacity crowd at The Cable Center, Moore urged mental health professionals to use their voices to advocate and transform the environment for those facing significant mental health challenges.

Read more at the DU Newsroom →

Vets Row 3,000 Miles to Redefine Mental Health

August 28, 2018

The first question is always: “Why would you ever want to row across the Atlantic Ocean?” The answer, for Alex Evans, is the opportunity to make waves on an issue that for too long has simply treaded water. Evans and his squad want to call attention to and destigmatize the mental health issues that have plagued American veterans — the same issue the University of Denver’s Graduate School of Professional Psychology (GSPP) is working to reframe. “You gotta do something insane in order to get attention anymore, right?” he says. “You can’t just hold a 5K anymore. That’s boring.”

Read more at the DU Newsroom →

Redefining Mental Health - News Page

In 2018, the Graduate School of Professional Psychology (GSPP) at the University of Denver is elevating its work and its vision of Redefining Mental Health in the Denver community and throughout Colorado by expanding our efforts to meet the social needs of the communities we serve. We are convening knowledgeable leadership from across the country and our community to ignite conversations and action that change the ways in which we treat and talk about mental health.

Dr. Jacob Hyde Addresses Veteran's Self-Immolation

Dr. Jacob Hyde, Director of the Sturm Specialty in Military Psychology, spoke to Fox 24/ABC 16 (Macon) after a US Air Force Veteran set himself on fire outside the Georgia State Capitol. The man was disgruntled with the level of care provided to him by Veterans Affairs.

COPE Founder on Cover of Alma Mater's Magazine

Diane Simard, founder of the Center for Oncology Psychology Excellence (COPE) at GSPP, was the cover story of her alma mater's spring 2018 alumni magazine! Simard, who graduated from the University of Nebraska at Kearney in 1988, is the subject of the featured article: Sharing her Gifts.

Cancer & Caregiving before COPE - Jeff Thompson

June 18, 2018

"Earth shattering." Jeff Thompson, UC Health Vice President of Government & Corporate Relations, minces no words when he describes the potential for GSPP's Center for Oncology Psychology Excellence (COPE) to impact the lives of cancer patients and their caregivers. Read more from the GSPP Board of Advisors member to learn how a personal loss led him to become a passionate crusader against cancer, and what impresses him most about the COPE team. Full interview here.

COPE Fellow Hannah Katz Prepares for Internship

June 18 2018

Hannah Katz is set to begin her pre-doctoral internship at the University of Kansas Medical Center this summer. For the 4th-year PsyD student, helping cancer patients and their families is personal: she was an undergraduate at the University of Denver when her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. Read more here.

For international Disaster Psychology student Jessi Lee, internship opportunities define academic experience

May 4, 2018

If you ask graduate Jessi Lee how she ended up at the GSPP, she’ll give you a brief answer: “It was kismet!” A few years ago, the former New Yorker decided she had had enough of the East Coast and decided to move to Denver. After working here for a year, she was drawn to GSPP’s master’s program in International Disaster Psychology (IDP). “I’ve always been interested in global public health, especially after working in South Africa during and after my time in college,” Lee explains. And through the IDP program, Lee found herself immersed in both major public issues and involved in the care of clients experiencing trauma--here in Colorado and around the world.

Read more at the DU Newsroom →

Getting to Know Yourself - SPP Blog

May 7, 2018

Sport & Performance Psychology student Hollis Lyman wrote about making sure you know yourself. It's an important thing to do to help with your mental health!

Leadership is in our Blood - SPP Blog

Most people think that leadership means telling people what to do and managing people to do their tasks. But it's more about learning each person's qualities and your own to benefit the group as a whole. Alex Easby (SPP '19) explains how leadership comes from knowing yourself, having emotional intelligence and how this helps people around you. (May 4, 2018)

Faculty Member Speaks on Restoring Mental Health

Dr. Kim Gorgens was interviewed by 9News during the channel's Mental Health Week about how sleep deprivation, stress and other factors can impact your mental health. (May 1, 2018)

Coaching Director on 9News - Athletes and Mental Health

Dr. Brian Gearity, Director of the Sport Coaching program, appeared on 9News as part of Health Week (April 26, 2018). Brian talked about the internal and external pressures that can impact athletes from little league to the professional level— and the importance of keeping enjoyment at the forefront. Watch the video here. 

PsyD Alum + Forensic Psychology Faculty - Social Media Concerns

Emily Laux, PsyD '14, and Dr. Apryl Alexander, Forensic Psychology faculty, both contributed to the second installment in a series about youth and social media by the Castle Rock News Press (April 25, 2018). Read the piece here: Time to Talk: Sharing concerns about social media

Helping Athletes with Autism in Sports - SPP Blog

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a range of conditions that involve challenges and deficits with social skills, repetitive behaviors, and both verbal and nonverbal communication. These can become a challenge when participating in sports, as every person with ASD has different needs. Demi Maglio (SPP '19) uses her professional experience to list some techniques that can help youth athletes with autism enjoy sports and learn valuable life skills. (April 24, 2018)

Forensic Psychology Faculty - Youth and Digital Safety

Dr. Apryl Alexander, Forensic Psychology faculty, was interviewed by Castle Rock News Press regarding the legal impact for youth engaged in risky online behavior (April 24, 2018). "Legally, that is considered child pornography," in cases involving aggravating factors. "Kids are being arrested and going on a sex-offender registry from taking a picture an+ sending it." Read the full article: Sexting poses legal, psychological risks for teens

Forensic Psychology Faculty - Op-Ed Against Conversion Therapy

Dr. Apryl Alexander, Forensic Psychology faculty, penned an op-ed that appeared on the Colorado Politics website (April 23, 2018). She wrote in support of House Bill 18-1245 to ban licensed mental health practitioners' use of "conversion therapy" with LGBTQ+ minors. "No young person should ever be shamed by a mental health professional into thinking that who they are is wrong." Full article: Legislature must ban use of 'conversion therapy' on our youth

Sport & Performance Psychology Director - Mindfulness Podcast

Dr. Mark Aoyagi, Director of the Sport and Performance Psychology Program, was interviewed as a guest on the Alive & Well podcast regarding the importance of mindfulness and performance psychology. Listen to the podcast here.

Faculty Member to Give TEDxMileHigh Talk

Dr. Kim Gorgens, our resident "brain scientist," will deliver a talk at TEDxMileHigh on Saturday, June 16, 2018. Visit the event website for full details and join us in the audience, or check back here for the video! TEDxMileHigh: Uncommon

Public Policy Corner – April 2018

Advocacy has been recognized as an important skill in psychology and psychologists are increasingly becoming involved in advocacy and public policy. However, many feel unprepared for this work. A 2009 study revealed 62% of psychology faculty and students reported advocacy training was not offered in their graduate programs (Lating, Barnett, & Horowitz, 2009). Learn how GSPP's Public Policy and Advocacy course is changing this disparity!

IDP Director Explains Symbolism Behind Discovered Items

Dr. Judy Fox spoke with the Tampa Bay Times about how finding lost items from natural disasters can bring relief to survivors. Discovering missing objects can help survivors during their psychological recovery. (April 18, 2018)

Paralympics Experience & "Consulting Bus" - SPP Blog

Drs. Jamie Shapiro and Artur Poczwardowski were mental health consultants for the Paralympic Games in PyeongChang, South Korea. They talk about how their personal athletic experiences impacted their relationships with athletes. Read the blog post here.  (April 13, 2018)

TBI Criminal Justice Program Changes Lives

GSPP doctoral students and Dr. Kim Gorgens work to provide assessments of inmates in Denver and five surrounding counties. They discovered that over 50% of surveyed convicts had traumatic brain injuries, empowering them to make changes to their lives. You can read the Denver Post article here.  (April 13, 2018)

Forensic Psychology Faculty - Op-Ed on ADHD

Dr. Michael Karson, Forensic Psychology faculty, contributed to Psychology Today through his blog, Feeling Our Way (April 10, 2018). Karson explores Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and its relationship with environmental demands. Full piece: How to Think About ADHD

Performance Readiness and The Olympic Games

Despite being the best in the world, Olympic athletes often "get inside their own heads" and don't perform to the best of their abilities. This is because they don't have performance readiness- or the ability to use clutch performances and other techniques. Dr. Alexander Cohen of the U.S. Olympic Committee shares his thoughts on athletic performance and how being ready makes all the difference. (March 30, 2018)

Latinx Program on EDUCA Radio - La Sexualidad

Alex Fernandez-Ortega spoke with EDUCA Radio about sexuality and mental health within the Latinx community. She talks about how sexuality plays a role in the mental health of children and how important it is to address the topic early on. (March 14, 2018)

COPE Director Talks About Mental Impact of Cancer Diagnosis 

Dr. Nicole E. Taylor joined 9NEWS (KUSA) to talk about the emotional impact of cancer on patients and caregivers. It's important for mental health treatment to be included in care plans for both patients and their families as a way to help cope with the diagnosis. (March 13, 2018)

Coaching Director Speaks on Mental Toughness in Athletics

Sport Coaching program director Dr. Brian Gearity talked with MEL Magazine  about how "mental toughness" and mental health are often seen as mutually exclusive. Athletes should have access to mental health treatment so they can perform their best, benefiting the team as a whole. (March 12, 2018)

Military Psychology Director Discusses Veterans Treatment Court

Dr. Jacob Hyde talked with the Aurora Sentinel about the Veterans Treatment Court (VTC). Veterans often struggle with physical and mental injuries from their service. This can sometimes lead to legal offenses that can often be linked back to their trauma, making mental health treatment a positive step to get them back on track. (March 9, 2018)

Forensic Faculty Member Weighs in on Sex Offender Rehabilitation

Dr. Apryl Alexander (Forensic faculty) spoke to the Aurora Sentinel about the issues with current law enforcement monitoring and treatment methods of sex offenders once they complete their sentences. Read the full article here. (March 1, 2018)

Patrick Kennedy Keynotes Redefining Mental Health Event

In GSPP's inaugural Redefining Mental Health event on February 22nd, the Honorable Patrick J. Kennedy spoke passionately about his own experiences and the urgent need to normalize how we discuss and address mental health in the United States. "The ripple effect of doing the right thing in mental health is enormous." Visit the DU Newsroom for full coverage.

MASPP Director Gives Relationship Advice Based on Olympic Pairs Skating

Dr. Mark Aoyagi was featured in Today Health and Wellness. Mark discusses things couples can learn from figure skating partnerships. From sharing a purpose to trusting yourself, there are several lessons couples can incorporate into their relationship. (February 14, 2018)

Kidnapping Abuse Can Impact Mental Health in Adulthood

Two brothers who were kidnapped and abused by a Mexican cartel committed a similar crime in the Denver area. Dr. Kim Gorgens spoke with the Denver Post about the psychological complexity and lack of data regarding kidnapping victims reenacting identical illegal activities. (February 12, 2018)

Sport Coaching Program Director Advocates for Change in Coaching Culture

9News Denver spoke with Dr. Brian Gearity about how coaching plays into an athlete's performance as well as how proper coaching can improve the training environment. Brian also talks about the relationship between proper coping methods in coaches can lead to a better well-being for athletes. (February 10, 2018)

IDP Student Writes About Internship Experience

Taylor McCoy (1st year IDP student) wrote about her internship at Our Front Porch, a non-profit in the Denver area that focuses on helping disaster survivors rebuild their lives. She writes about how difficult recovering from homelessness can be and how getting out of a shelter is intertwined with different factors. (February 8, 2018)

MASPP Alum Helps Olympic Athletes with Mental Performance

While many know of the physical training athletes have to experience, most don't realize athletes have to train their brains too. Stephanie Zavilla (MASPP '13) talks about her personal experience with a sport psychologist  and how this motivated her to do the same for other athletes, especially with elite level performers like Olympians. (February 6, 2018)

Students & Faculty Focus on Farmers' Mental Health

Current PsyD students Rebecca Hillel and Olivia Kraus and Dr. Sally Spencer-Thomas write about the current issues of the well-being of farmers. Stoicism is a default reaction for farmers and the implications of this affect more than just their families. Read about how mental health should be a focus in the agricultural and farming industry. (January 23, 2018)

PsyD Alum Delivers TEDx Talk on Suicide Prevention

Dr. Sally Spencer-Thomas (PsyD Alum & Adjunct Faculty) delivered a TEDx Talk, "Stopping Suicide with Story." She talks about how to shift the culture from the bias and discrimination we currently have, to one of empowerment and dignity. Watch her presentation. (January 12, 2018)

MIlitary Psychology Director Talks to 9News About Executive Order

Dr. Jacob N. Hyde spoke to 9News about Trump's executive order to increase mental health services for Veterans transitioning to civilian life, noting that partnerships between the VA and universities will help offset the influx of Veterans seeking care. (January 11, 2018)

Forensic Psychology Alum Talks About Police & Mental Health Program Collaboration

The Denver Post quotes Jagruti Shah (Forensic Psych '04 + Director of Criminal Justice Services for CDHS) in an article about the benefits of pairing police with mental health professionals. Read the article. (January 10, 2018)

COPE Highlighted in 5280 Magazine

Dr. Nicole Taylor and the COPE clinic were highlighted for focusing on the overall well-being of cancer patients and their loved ones. Make sure to check out the article. (January 8, 2018)

PsyD Alum Works on Community Mental Health Crisis

Dr. Kiara Keunzler (PsyD' 08 + COO of Jefferson Center for Mental Health) was featured in a CBS Denver piece  about ways community mental health partners are rallying to fill the gap left by the closure of Denver Metro's largest provider of substance abuse services. (January 5, 2018)

Sturm Center Director Talks About Mental Health & Veterans

Dr. Katy Barrs, Clinical Director of The Sturm Center, is featured on an episode of the Veteran Mental Health Bootcamp podcast. Listen to this first episode for an introduction to all guests, and stay tuned for Katy's appearance, where she'll discuss emotional dysregulation among Veterans and Service Members. (December 19, 2017)

GSPP Faculty Member Provides Crisis Intervention Analysis

Dr. Kim Gorgens provided her analysis of released body camera footage from an incident involving a former sheriff's deputy. Gorgens talked with Fox31 Denver about the incident. (December 15, 2017)  

DU, GSPP Recognized for Helping Veterans

DU receives another honor for assisting Veterans, based on: military culture, financial assistance, flexibility, general support, online support and on-campus support. We are proud to be engaged in the military culture on campus through the Sturm Specialty in Military Psychology, the Sturm Center, and student/faculty involvement with the Student Veterans Association. Read more about the award here. (December 7, 2017) 

GSPP Launches New Collaborative to Combat Identity-Based Violence

The Graduate School of Professional Psychology is launching the Colorado Resilience Collaborative (CRC). The project is aimed to treat victims of identity-based violence in the state of Colorado. To learn more about the program, please visit the CRC's website. (November 30, 2017)

Sport & Performance Psychology Student Named Mountain Runner of the Year

Addie Bracy (1st year MSPP) was named the mountain runner of the year by the USA Track and Field's Mountain, Ultra & Trail Running Council. Read more to find out about her award! (November 29, 2017)

How Street Harassment Impacts Mental Health

Dr. Apryl Alexander was interviewed by the Denverite to talk about how street harassment can impact the mental health of victims. To see what she had to say, check out the interview here. (November 28, 2017)

GSPP Adjunct on Gun Violence Prevention Strategies

Sally Spencer-Thomas, GSPP alum and adjunct, created a post that outlines some steps to take to prevent gun violence from happening in your home. Read her post here.  (November 22, 2017)

Meet the Interns - IDP Students at Our Front Porch

Meet Paxton & Taylar, two International Disaster Psychology students currently interning at "Our Front Porch," a local organization whose mission is "to provide the place where people can find support, community and empowerment while rebuilding after a disaster." Read more about them here. (November 17, 2017)

SPP Director- How to Cope During the Holidays

Dr. Mark Aoyagi on HuffPost: "The pressures associated with cooking Thanksgiving dinner are similar to those felt by athletes or musicians who perform for a crowd. If you're afraid your performance will be scrutinized, you just have to change your expectations." Click for tips! (November 15, 2017)

SPP Alum Talks at TedxFonduLac

In her recent TEDx talk, "Humaning," SPP alum Lyndsey Seewald confronts the elephant in the room head-on and encourages us to "fear forward," embracing our own-- and each other's-- elephants, without condition. Watch the video here. (November 13, 2017)

Traumatic Brain Injury in Criminal Justice

Inmates living with traumatic brain injury (TBI) are an understudied, vulnerable population, and are overrepresented in correctional facilities. TBI has been linked to poor impulse control, aggressive behaviors, deficits in attention span, and higher risks for substance use disorders. Symptoms often negatively impact behavior within corrections and contribute to increased recidivism rates. The prevalence of TBI within corrections is very high; although rates vary among sites, our pilot data from the Denver County Jail Mental Health Transition Unit suggests that up to 96% of those inmates have a history of at least one complicated TBI. 

Recognizing the scope of this problem, GSPP partnered up with local organizations and developed a novel partnership with the State of Colorado. Learn about it here.

Faculty Interviewed - Best/Worst Cities for Veterans

Dr. Jacob N. Hyde, Faculty Director of GSPP's Sturm Specialty in Military Psychology, weighs in on the best and worst places for Veterans to live-- click on "Ask the Experts" to find his input (November 6, 2017). Best and Worst Cities for Veterans 2017

IDP Alum Holds New Anti-Human Trafficking Role

Charlee Borg (IDP '16) is the first full-time anti-human trafficking coordinator at HopeWorks, a domestic violence center in Howard County, Maryland. She was hired to create and implement new strategies to meet the unique needs of human trafficking survivors (October 19, 2017). More: HopeWorks rolls out advanced human-trafficking survivor services 

Faculty Interviewed - Refugees + Social Media Footage of Crisis

Dr. Gwen Mitchell lent her expertise to an article about Denver's Rohingya refugees use of social media-- Facebook Live-- to watch footage of the current humanitarian crisis in Myanmar (October 19, 2017). Gwen has lived and worked in Myanmar and currently supervises an alum working in the impacted region. Full piece: Thanks to Facebook Live, local Rohingya refugees are living out conflict a world away

SPP Director - Mental Aspects of the NFL Bye Week

Dr. Mark Aoyagi, Director of Sport & Performance Psychology, University of Denver, weighs in on psychological implications of the NFL bye week (October 13, 2017). Read the full article: Optimum Performance: NFL bye week: rest, repair, regenerate, win

Student/Alum Collaboration - Suicide Prevention + Male Military Sexual Trauma

Katie Dorsey, a US Air Force Veteran and current PsyD student, co-authored an article with PsyD alum and adjunct, Dr. Sally Spencer-Thomas: Suicide prevention among  men who experience military sexual trauma (MST) (September 10, 2017)

Forensic Alum Represents at Hill Day

Forensic Psychology alum and Colorado Hill Day 2017 State Captain, Moses Gur, organized meetings with all 7 Representatives and a meeting with both Senators with 35+ attendees! (October 4, 2017)

PsyD Alum on 9News - Rebuilding After Tragedy

Following the deadly mass shooting at a concert in Las Vegas, PsyD alum and adjunct Dr. Evan Axelrod of Nicoletti-Flater Associates shared expertise about rebuilding routines, despite fear, after a tragedy. Watch the video here.

SPP Student Named Volunteer Men's Hockey Coach

Congrats to Chase Hollander, current student in Sport & Performance Psychology, for being named a volunteer coach on the staff of our (defending national champions) Men's Hockey team (September 30, 2017). Have a great season! Read the announcement here: Former Wisconsin-Stout goalie Chase Hollander need volunteer coach at Denver 

COPE Founder Honored - Ray of Hope Foundation

Diane Simard, founder of GSPP's COPE- Center for Oncology Psychology Excellence- was honored at the Ray of Hope foundation's 15th Anniversary event this weekend, for her advocacy and philanthropy for those affected by cancer (September 16, 2017). Grateful for your partnership, Diane! 

2017 International Travel Highlights - Faculty

Prague, Czech Republic; Copenhagen, Denmark; Monrovia, Liberia; the UK; Budapest, Hungary; Coatepeque, Guatemala; Durban and Cape Town, South Africa; Trujillo, Peru; Ayacucho, Peru; Sevilla, Spain.. click for photos and details about faculty travels abroad this calendar year!

Alum Wins Health Equity + Environmental Justice Award

Congratulations to Aimee Voth Siebert, International Disaster Psychology '12, for receiving Colorado's 2017 Health Equity and Environmental Justice award! (September 8, 2017.) Through CDPHE, Aimee offers training in disaster behavioral health, community inclusion, and crisis communications.

Alum Shares Story as Melanoma Survivor

IDP Alum Amy Wanninger shares her story as a melanoma survivor. Amy has been a great partner and advocate for COPE, our Center for Oncology Psychology Excellence, serving as a guest lecturer and panelist throughout the past year. Thank you for sharing your voice, Amy! Full video and article from CBS: Melanoma Experts Meet to Showcase Latest Research (August 2017)

Faculty Weighs in on Abusive HS Coaching

Dr. Brian Gearity, director of MA Sport Coaching, weighs in on a local news story surrounding abusive HS coaching practices: "It's time to stop treating coaching like a weekend workshop and more like a true profession that has rigorous standards and accountability," Gearity said. Click for more: DU Sport Coach Educator Questions How High School Coaches Are Trained (August 26, 2017)

IDP Student Writes About International Internship

Laura Feehs, IDP '17, describes participating in Marš Mira, the annual peace march that commemorates the Srebrenica genocide, during her summer internship (July 14, 2017). In full: Reflections on the Marš Mira

Sport Coaching Student Competes in Taipei

We're proud of current Sport Coaching student, Jaimee Springer, for making the Canadian track and field team to compete in the 2017 Summer Universiade Games in Taipei this August! She's excited to learn more about how other coaches interact with their athletes and teams over the two weeks she will spend abroad. Congrats, Jaimee! (July 2017)

GSPP Dean Talks About How Worrying Can help you

Dean Shelly Smith-Acuna weighs in on worry (Reader's Digest) - click for the full article! (June 26, 2017)

Podcast with MASPP Director - Handling Failure

Dr. Mark Aoyagi, Director of Sport & Performance Psychology, University of Denver, weighs in on failure for episode #5 of the Relate podcast: "If Olympic champions can fail, so can you"-- click to listen to the audio! (June 21, 2017)

Faculty Member Earns APA Achievement Award

Congratulations to Forensic Psychology faculty member, Dr. Apryl Alexander on receiving an APA Achievement Award for Early Career Psychologists! She will be presented with the award at the APA Convention in August. (June 16, 2017)

Podcast with Sport Coaching Faculty Member

Podcast: Listen to Dr. Clayton Kuklick of Sport Coaching, University of Denver as he chats with NSCA from the DU weight room. You can listen to the podcast on iTunes (June 13, 2017). 

MASPP Director Quoted in SELF Magazine

Dr. Mark Aoyagi, Director of Sport & Performance Psychology, University of Denver, is quoted in this SELF article about a new studio combining boxing, mindfulness (June 7, 2017). 

Faculty Members Participate in US Embassy Program

See link below for coverage of Dr. Rohini Gupta & Dr. Annie Miller's trip to Birmingham UK with a delegation from Denver/Aurora to learn about different approaches to challenging extremism (June 1, 2017). This is part of a US Embassy-facilitated learning exchange which will bring Birmingham delegates to Denver/Aurora later in the year. Here's more info about their experience.

Read More GSPP Headlines!

Find news prior to the 2017-18 academic year in the News Archive.