October 2020


Recovery Month Mural

UF Health Florida Recovery Center paints mural for National Recovery Month

In honor of National Recovery Month, employees from the UF Health Florida Recovery Center painted a mural on the wall on 34th street to celebrate those in recovery from substance use disorder.



UF neuroscientists find sex hormones may influence risk taking, impulsivity in rats

New research by University of Florida neuroscientists suggests that male and female sex hormones may play differing roles in risk-taking inclinations and the ability to delay gratification.



Baker Act mental-health law fails children and families

Recently, and prior to COVID-19, there were several news stories about the potential inappropriate use of Florida’s involuntary mental-health commitment law, commonly called the Baker Act, in its use for children and teens.

Many children and families report being traumatized by Florida’s outdated law, including children being handcuffed, dragged out of schools, separated from their parents, or parents not knowing where their children are being sent. There are too many cases that children, parents, and health professionals are not the ones making these calls, and this process is burdensome and actually harmful to many patients and families.

The law needs to be reformed to give more rights to children, their families, and mental-health professionals.

Read More »

Richard C. Holbert, MD Assistant Professor

UF Health MedEd Podcast with Dr. Holbert

Richard Holbert, MD helps us to identify treatment-resistant depression. He examines the indications for transcranial magnetic stimulation and electroconvulsive therapy and he describes the potential side effects and outcomes of these therapies.



UF Moves up in U.S. News & World Report Rankings

The University of Florida has risen on the U.S. News & World's Top 10 Public Universities Rankings for the fourth year in a row. So yell a big, "Go Gators!" as the Orange and Blue now holds the sixth spot, moving up from No. 7 on last year's rankings. It sure is great to be a Florida Gator! So tap below to see which other schools made the list and to find out how the rankings were chosen. 


The UF Health Shands Psychiatric Hospital consultation team

World Patient Safety Day

The COVID-19 pandemic has unveiled the huge challenges and risks health workers are facing globally including health care associated infections, violence, stigma, psychological and emotional disturbances, illness and even death. See how the department celebrated World Patient Safety Day this year.



‘Some of the biggest risk factors for suicide are now part of daily life’: Here’s how to get help

Americans are experiencing mental health conditions such as suicidal thoughts at higher levels during the pandemic, recent data show. But there are lots of resources and strategies available to help, experts say — not to mention teletherapy that’s more accessible than ever.

About 10.7% of Americans surveyed in June said they had seriously considered suicide in the past 30 days, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study published last month, more than double the 4.3% who said the same in 2018 about their previous 12 months.

Dr. Andres Pumariega offers guidance and information about how to seek assistance.



17 Totally Normal Feelings to Have as a College Student Right Now

It’s officially back-to-school season even though this school year is anything but normal—something you know especially well if you’re a college student. The coronavirus pandemic has changed all of our lives in countless ways and it’s now wreaking havoc on the typical college experience of students across the country too. These changes don’t just have practical consequences; they’re likely impacting your mental health also.


Mother and child wearing masks looking out a window

Keeping kids healthy during COVID-19

Keeping children safe is a top priority for all parents during the COVID-19 crisis and will become increasingly challenging this fall. These tips are helpful for all parents, including those whose kids have neurodevelopmental disorders or special needs, as they do their best to keep their children physically and mentally healthy during these difficult times.



What Parents Need to Know About Trauma, College, and COVID

UF associate professor, Marcia Morris, MD shares how a trauma-informed parenting approach can help students cope with COVID.



Anti-Racism and Health Equity Group

It’s not too late to join the Anti-Racism and Health Equity Group on the UF Health Bridge!

In honor of Mental Illness Awareness Week our next movie night on October 13 at 5:30pm is Outside the House: A Mental Health Documentary by Darnell Lamont Walker more details on the bridge or below in the Upcoming Events section.

Check the bridge for details on our upcoming book club including how to access the book and when we will be discussing the first section of the book: Passing by Nella Larsen

We would love for you to join us for these new and thought provoking opportunities and welcome you to join the group and present ideas of your own. Go to the UF Health Bridge to join the group, and see more details, on resources, activities, and events. “ 



Get a Plan / Get a Kit / Be Informed

We continue our preparedness on Get a Plan / Get a Kit / Be Informed by focusing on personal disaster supplies. A basic kit includes needed items for 3 days. While a kit should be customized to your specific situation, below are general guidelines to follow. A printer-friendly version is also available for handy reference.

You can find a copy of the Department’s Emergency Plan on SharePoint and the Internal Resources/Call Schedule pages



UF GatorSAFE Mobile App

Safety resources at your fingertips with the new UF GatorSAFE Mobile App. Smartphone users who download the free GATORSAFE app can now report tips, including those not adhering to COVID-19 guidelines, to the UF Police Department, make emergency calls and perform other functions that improve their personal safety and security.

Apple Store

Google Play Store


Sign up for UF Health’s mass notification system

The UF Health Shands Emergency Preparedness team is constantly monitoring the weather and its impact on Alachua County. Make sure you're signed up for UF Alert — Shands, UF Health’s mass notification system.



Coming full circle

When Anuja Mehta, M.D. ’11, searches for the perfect words of wisdom to offer the residents and medical students she teaches at the University of Central Florida College of Medicine, she has a deep well of experience to pull from. She remembers her time as a UF medical student and later the outpatient chief resident in general psychiatry at UF Health Shands Hospital, days and nights that left an indelible mark.

“The UF College of Medicine has a reputation as a tough school that produces stellar physicians,” Mehta says. “I learned to strive for excellence no matter what I’m doing. I draw from my experiences there when I mentor medical students and residents, making sure I tell them that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.”



Dr. Koppolu featured in Current Psychiatry

Siva Koppolu, MMBS, is currently a UF Neuromodulation fellow shares his journey into residency and beyond.



Recognizing and Treating Hoarding Disorder
How Much is Too Much?

How can a mental health professional who sees clients in an office determine if hoarding is a factor in a client’s life? In this book, Carol Mathews provides readers with the first-ever comprehensive clinical book on hoarding, covering every aspect of the disorder.

Everybody has heard the statements “she’s a pack rat” or “he’s a hoarder,” but how many of us really know what that means? Pathological hoarding was first formally conceptualized as a syndrome separate from OCD in the early 1990s, yet it wasn’t until 2013 that hoarding received formal psychiatric diagnostic criteria in the DSM.



Resident of the Month


Fellow of the Month


Quality and Safety Stars

For our September Quality and Safety Star Award, we are honoring Dr. Amanda Mihalik-Wenger. As the chair of the UF Health Housestaff Quality and Patient Safety Committee, she helped to organize residents and fellows to recognize World Patient Safety Day 2020 on September 17, 2020. She personally handmade 250 orange ribbons for housestaff to wear. Thank you for being a Quality and Safety Star! Thanks to all our residents, fellows, faculty, and staff for their support of World Patient Safety Day 2020!

Check out our latest Quality and Safety Star Awardees on the Quality whiteboard in the adult workroom at the MOB. 

If you have a nominee for future Quality and Safety Star Awards, please email Dr. Jackie Hobbs.


Staff Spotlight


Alissa Yax

The Center for Autism and Related Disorders has recently found itself short staffed. During this challenging time Alissa has assumed all the CARD receptionist duties including answering phone calls, registering new CARD clients, managing client referrals from UF Health Physicians and outside agencies, and managing files in addition to her roles an Administrative Support Assistant II. This is the second time in the past year that Alissa has stepped up to fill a staff vacancy with a great, positive attitude.

Thank you Alissa for all you do for our department!


Tip of the Cap

Tip of the cap to Doctor Rob Averbuch for his telepsych helping hands at clinic. All of the patients appreciate the care given to them by all the UF volunteers.

Helping Hands Clinic


We need your help!

We'd like you to keep an eye out for those staff members that continually go above and beyond for the department.

Then we would like you to nominate them by submitting their name and a brief explanation of the awesome thing(s) they do!

The Executive Leadership Committee will vote on the candidates and we will announce the winner in the newsletter. 

Please submit your entries to Priscilla Spence


Join UF Psychiatry Alumni Society

Become a member of the UF Psychiatry Alumni Society! The society fosters alumni networking, socializing and sharing current trends in psychiatric and behavioral science. Show your support of the education, research and clinical mission of the department by joining.

Join today at: https://psychiatry.ufl.edu/alumni/registration/

• Annual Dues: $100

• Lifetime Dues: $2,500 (payable over five years, $500 per year)

Membership dues support activities of the society and training programs.

To learn more about giving back to the department and alumni opportunities, please contact Callie Wilkes. (calliewilkes@ufl.edu). 


Virtual Poster Session

The UF Health Cancer Center recognizes the importance of providing a forum for our trainees to showcase your research. As a result, we are excited to welcome you to our first ever Virtual Poster Session.

The abstract submission deadline is Oct. 12. Limit one poster per presenter.

In keeping with the center's mission to foster education and training and to build research collaborations, trainee prizes will be awarded. Junior faculty are welcome to submit an abstract in order to showcase current research and foster mentorship; however, junior faculty posters will not be judged.

Questions should be directed to Education@cancer.ufl.edu. or visit https://cancer.ufl.edu/education/research-day-2020/


Homecoming 2020 Holiday

Because of COVID-19, all face-to-face events scheduled on Homecoming Friday, October 2, 2020, including the Homecoming parade, have been cancelled or will be held virtually at a later date.  In support of a recommendation from our UF Faculty Senate, the Friday, October 2, holiday will revert to a work and instructional class day.  December 24 will be considered an official holiday in its stead.  

This shift from October 2 to December 24 will provide benefits of regaining one of the instructional class days lost from the one-week delay of the start of the Fall term, aligning with Alachua County Schools' decision to hold classes on October 2, and ensuring no change in total hours of holiday leave for UF employees.


Research Pilot Project Grants Available

UF Health CAN offers funding for pilot projects for trainees and junior faculty to stimulate research in areas directly relevant to autism spectrum disorder. The description of the program and guidelines as well as a template for preparing a proposal can be found on the UF Health CAN Research website.

Up to $25,000 per proposal is available to initiate research that will generate preliminary or pilot data needed for competitive extramural grant applications.

Applications should be submitted by October 1, 2020 or June 1, 2021 using the proposal submission template found on the CAN website. Awards will be made by November 1, 2020 and July 1, 2021.

Please direct any inquiries to Dr. Mark Lewis at marklewis@ufl.edu.


UF CARD Update

Parent Training for Disruptive Behaviors

UF CARD is offering a free parent training program to parents of children 2-14 years of age with autism spectrum disorder or related disabilities. This parent training program consists of 6 sequential sessions designed to teach parents ways to reduce disruptive behaviors.

DATES/TIMES: Thursdays from 4:00-5:30pm; Sep 17, 2020​ -  Oct 22, 2020

LOCATION: Online via Zoom

To be eligible participants must be:

-parent/caregiver of a child with ASD or a related disability 2-14 years of age

-registered with UF CARD

-able to attend all 6 sessions


If you are not already registered with UF CARD and want to learn more visit our website or call 352-265-2230.​

More UF CARD events can be found here​!


Call for Artists and Performers!

Are you a UF CARD Constituent who wants to showcase your talents?
We will be hosting our Annual Celebrating Autism in the Arts event virtually this year and we would be delighted to have you join us!

Artists will have images of their work displayed and performers will have a link to a video of their performance posted on our Facebook page along with a short bio the week of October 19-23, 2020. Participants are welcome to include links to their social media/YouTube/website/Etsy accounts.
Open to artists & performers of all types: Visual Artists, Photographers, Sculptors, Actors, Jewelry Artists, Musicians, Magicians, Comics…

Contact Danielle Liso at liso@ufl.edu if you are interested in participating. The deadline to apply to participate is October 7, 2020.


Cara Yergen, MD

Dr. Yergen completed her undergraduate degree in biochemistry at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Worcester, MA and earned a Master's degree in Health Science at the American University of the Caribbean, St Maarten. She received her medical degree at Saba university School of Medicine, Saba, Netherlands Antilles. She then went on to complete a residency in psychiatry at the Hartford Hospital at the Institute of Living Adult Residency Program, Hartford, CT. 

Dr. Yergen has been practicing psychiatry in Florida since 2009. In her years since training, Dr. Yergen has practiced in many different settings giving her a solid well-rounded knowledge and experience base.

Please join us in welcoming Dr. Yergen as an Adjunct Assistant Professor at Vero Beach.



Sarah Andrews, MD

A 2020 graduate of our UF Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Fellowship program, Dr. Andrews obtained her undergraduate and graduate degrees in Biology at Washington University in St. Louis. She completed her medical training in Kasturba Medical College International Center/America University of Antigua where she graduated with summa cum laude honors. She completed a psychiatry residency at the VA Caribbean Healthcare System/Ponce health Sciences university, San Juan and Ponce, Puerto Rico.

Dr. Andrews will be working half-time as an Adjunct Faculty in the Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, serving children in pediatrics and as collaborative care provider. The other half-time she is completing additional specialty training in Addiction Medicine, through our UF Addiction Medicine Fellowship program.

It is a pleasure to welcome Dr. Andrews!


Jackie Garcia 

Jackie will be our new residency coordinator assisting with residency recruitment and support, training schedules, and the call calendar for residents. She will be located in residency training at the UF Health Shands Psychiatric Hospital. 


Joseph Thornton, MD

After over 30 years of clinical service, dedication to patients and patient care in psychiatry, Dr. Joe Thornton is retiring from the department.  We appreciate your dedication to education, mentorship, and clinical care throughout your career.  We hope that you will now have the time to pursue other interests and passions in your life.  We will miss you!


Dorothy McCallister

Congratulations and Happy Retirement! Thank you Dorothy for your years of dedication to the department, you will be missed!


After almost a year of service in the department Drs. Eve Spratt and James Edwards will be returning to the beloved South Caroline.  We have been fortunate to have them here and appreciate their many contributions, and wish them all the best in all their endeavors.  The will both retain courtesy appointments with psychiatry and continue to collaborate from a distance.


October 4-11 | The 19th Annual Guest Chef "Gone Virtual"

As you know by now, the 19th Annual Guest Chef will be a virtual event this year!  As we approach the kick-off, we are very excited and hope you will join for a FB LIVE Premier scheduled for 5 pm on Sunday October 4.

There is tons of great information about the event, the auction and you can preview all the items up for bid.  You can register at www.guestchefgainesville.com


October 9 | Grand Rounds "Physician Wellness During COVID-19 and Social Unrest: Avoiding Burnout With Self Care"

Stehpen A. Pasternack, MD

Affiliate Professor

Florida Atlantic University

12:00-1:00 pm


October 10 | OCD Walk

Our COARD walkers have combined digital forces to create this awesome fundraising Walk Team. Together, we will raise more money for the IOCDF and make an even greater impact!

Want to help?

Support us by either registering to walk with us virtually on October 10th or by making a donation to our team. The process is fast, easy, and secure ... and you can be sure that it will benefit a great cause! 

Take a step and join us at the #OCDwalk!



October 13 | NAMI Mental Health Awareness Movie Night

Join us in watching 
Outside the House: A Mental Health Documentary

Tuesday, October 13th 5:30 pm

How to watch:
Springhill 2 and Vista Conference room 1901
or via Youtube (TBP)

Please RSVP to Natalie Brown at https://ufl.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_9slx07adJNGGPhr


October 14 | Grand Rounds "Hijacking of the Brain: Past, Present, Future"

Laurie Solomon, MD

Assistant Professor

University of Florida, Department of Psychiatry

12:00-1:00 pm


October 23 | Grand Rounds "The Emergence of Polyvagal Informed Therapies: Harnessing the Neuroception of Safe in Clinical Treatment"

Stephen Porges, PhD

Kinsey Institute

Indiana University

12:00-1:00 pm


November 13 | Psychiatry Celebration of Service

Join us as we celebrate several members of our department that have dedicated 5 to 35 years of service. 

3:00-4:00 pm

Zoom link TBP



November 14 | Out of the Darkness, Gainesville Experience





Resources to Promote Well-Being During the COVID-19 Outbreak

While we are maintaining social distance and/or quarantined, many people lose access to resources that support their self-care. Here is a list of resources to help you navigate this challenging time while maintaining your own well-being.


Guided Meditations

Lead by Dr. Carol Lewis and Dr. Lori Waxenberg, these guided meditations, ranging from 1 1/2 to 15 minutes, will help you learn to notice thoughts, sensations, and emotions without being swept away by them. They have been shown to benefit both physical and emotional health.

Meditation Playlist »


Streamed Fitness Class

Join a GatorCare staff member on Tuesdays and Thursdays at noon for 15 minutes of an office (or home office)-friendly workout. No need to leave the office or change out of office clothes! Can’t join the live stream? Check out the recorded streams here.

Meeting URL: https://ufl.zoom.us/j/230607362


Employee Assistance Program (EAP)

An expansion of the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) that provides UF employees with improved access to mental health counselors as well as enhanced work life, financial and legal resources and services. To learn more about the expanded UF EAP, please visit http://eap.ufl.edu. If you have questions, please contact UFHR Communications and Worklife at (352) 392-2477 or eap-help@ufl.edu.


Mindful Relaxation Minutes 


Please be sure to join us Thursdays at 12:15pm via Zoom.

Join Zoom Meeting using: https://ufl.zoom.us/j/159914780?pwd=aXVGcXh5dTFweWwwNkxrOXJHOEpNUT09

Meeting ID: 159 914 780

Passcode: 601221



2 Minute Resilience Reset 

Try these 2 minute sessions hosted by Dr. Carol Lewis that focus on breathing to stimulate the soothing part of the nervous system, and learn a practical tip from resilience science to help you maintain your stability in these difficult times.



Do you have some news or an announcement you would like to share?

Do you know someone who has gone above and beyond and who you would like to recognize? 

Want us to save the date for an upcoming event?

Email us


COVID-19 Resources

COVID-19 Resources



Busting COVID-19 myths


Have you had it with all of the hearsay? The World Health Organization is sorting fact from fiction with their Coronavirus Myth Busters resource. Stay empowered by staying informed.

Learn More »


Reminder that we have a new centralized contact for any UFCOM/UF Health employees in need of mental health services during the COVID-19 pandemic, including:

• Psychiatric medication consultation and management

• Free individual short-term counseling

• Individual psychotherapy

• Resilience-based group therapy

If anyone reaches out to you for assistance, please encourage them call the UF Health Staff Telepsych Services center between 8:30 a.m. and 7 p.m. (7 days per week) at 352-265-5459 or email c19peersupport@shands.ufl.edu [please provide name, contact number, and best time(s) to receive a call back].



The Gator community sticks together in all kinds of weather, and that's never more evident than in times of transition and hardship. Aid-a-Gator has processed more than 1,000 requests for a total of $955,695 from students to help cover a variety of needs, including rent due to lost wages, unanticipated travel, additional technology requirements, replacements of medications, emergency childcare due to extended school closures, and other needs. To file an application or to donate for students, visit https://www.sfa.ufl.edu/aidagator/ and for employees, visit   https://benefits.hr.ufl.edu/gatorperks/aid-a-gator/.



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