Scanlan Center for School Mental Health

2023 University of Iowa Mental Health Champion Honorees Announced


2023 UI Mental Health Champion Awards Ceremony
2023 University of Iowa Mental Health Champion Awards Ceremony – April 25, 2023

By Hannah Dake, Communications and Social Media Intern

Six University of Iowa faculty, staff, and students were announced as the inaugural 2023 Mental Health Champion Award recipients during a ceremony on Tuesday, April 25. 

This first-ever Mental Health Champion Award spotlights exemplary leaders and ambassadors at the University of Iowa who have cultivated an environment that values mental health and the importance it holds in the well-being of each of our lives.

“Each honoree has a unique, inspiring story about how they, through their actions, champion mental health,” says Barry Schreier, College of Education professor of Counseling Psychology and director of higher education programs for the Scanlan Center for School Mental Health. “By shining light on the different ways these leaders and our campus community prioritizes mental health, we continue to improve access and awareness of mental health, as part of wellbeing, for everyone.”

The award not only celebrates individuals and groups for their impactful efforts, but it also forwards the commitment to “Campus Mental Health” in the UI Strategic Plan. 

The ceremony included remarks from Joni Troester, UI Senior Assistant Vice President of Human Resources, and Tanya Villhauer, UI Assistant Dean of Well-Being and Basic Needs in the Division of Student Life, co-chairs for the Wellbeing and Mental Health Collaborative

Recipients were then presented with awards and inducted into the UI Mental Health Champion Wall of Fame.

These six awardees have demonstrated excellence in embedding mental health into all aspects of campus culture, supporting students, faculty, employees, and staff: 

Sabrina Shaw, University of Iowa Athletics, Health and Human Physiology Undergraduate Student 

Sabrina Shaw
Sabrina Shaw

Sabrina Shaw, a senior Hawkeyes soccer student-athlete, is a dedicated advocate for student-athlete mental health. As a member of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee’s Health and Well-Being Subcommittee, she assisted with the inaugural Hawk-Identity event, gathering a record 125 student-athletes to hear from panelists, share their own stories, and discover important campus resources. Shaw has dedicated her nearly four years at Iowa to decreasing mental health stigma, increasing supportive conversation, and normalizing student-athletes seeking help.

“We are incredibly proud of the work Sabrina has done, humbled by her persevering advocacy and passion for mental health, and lifted in optimism by the hundreds of student-athletes she is helping. We can only imagine the ripple effect Sabrina has that affects people even beyond the direct impact.” – Dr. Aubrette Kinne, Sports Psychologist, University of Iowa Department of Athletics

University of Iowa Tippie College of Business Social Media Team: Rebekah Tilley (Director of Strategic Communications), Hannah Hilgenkamp (Creative and Social Media Specialist), Regan Day, Lily Dosedel, and Sam Buol (Undergraduate Students)

Tippie College of Business Social Media Team
Tippie College of Business Social Media Team

Aiming to normalize talking about mental health, the Tippie College of Business social media team created the ‘#HowIStayGrounded’ campaign, a video series featuring how well-known University of Iowa faculty, staff, and students care for their mental health and implement healthy daily practices. The three-month series launched on Instagram in October 2022. ‘#HowIStayGrounded’ recieved overwhelmingly positive support from both internal and external audiences, resulting in a 386% increase in reach compared to the same three-month period in 2021. 

“By allowing each person to share a unique way they maintain a healthy mindset, they were able to promote preventative practices in an engaging and fun way. This campaign received quite a bit of positive feedback from current students, alumni, faculty, and social media colleagues outside of the university.– Hannah Hilgenkamp

Ana Jimenez, Senior Advisor & Program Coordinator for University of Iowa Study Abroad, International Programs

Ana Jimenez
Ana Jimenez

Ana Jimenez realized the lasting effects COVID-19 was having on her students studying abroad, in particular, on their mental health. She collaborated with a colleague to add mental health slides to orientation with the hope that by addressing mental health and reminding students of the onsite support they can receive while abroad, they’ll be more encouraged to ask for help. Additionally, as a Latina staff member, Jimenez strives to destigmatize mental health and promote healthy practices to staff/faculty of color. An active participant in campus organizations like Latinx Council, Diversity Leadership Council, and Hawks of Color, she bravely talks about her own mental health and healing journey with other members. 

“Having active participation in these spaces has been especially important since COVID-19 started. We’ve had a lot of tragedy and burnout, and being there for each other is important. In talking about my experience with therapy, I encourage students and staff/faculty to consider it. I talk about it lightly and openly to try and take the stigma of it away.” – Ana Jimenez 

Briana Horwath, Plastic Surgery Fellowship Coordinator, Department of Surgery, University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics

Briana Horwath
Briana Horwath

Briana Horwath has led the charge in making the Division of Plastic Surgery a place where all feel their mental health is prioritized. She has normalized mental health care for the department’s trainees through her weekly ‘Wellness Reminders’ and by providing ‘wellness snacks’ for the trainees. Recognizing how important diversity, equity, and inclusion are to mental health, Horwath revised the departmental mission statement, web pages, and conference agendas to emphasize the commitment to these values. Horwath has also worked to destigmatize mental health by openly discussing and encouraging patients to utilize resources available to them.

“Briana bolsters our trainees’ mental health and morale on a daily basis. She creates a safe space where people feel comfortable to open up and be vulnerable. She listens intently, without judgment, and helps people find sources of inspiration and creative solutions to problems. She works tirelessly to improve the mental health of our residents and we are incredibly proud of the numerous changes she has made to our program.” – Dr. Kelly Ledbetter, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon

Gerard Clancy, Professor of Psychiatry, University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics

Gerard Clancy
Gerard Clancy

Gerard Clancy has a front-row seat to the mental health needs of those in the healthcare field. As the pressures of healthcare intensified during the pandemic, Clancy championed 60+ peer-to-peer workshops, leading 3,000+ participants through burnout strategies and providing a space for workers to openly share their struggles and receive proper support. Clancy is also the founder and host of Rounding@Iowa, a monthly podcast that dives into topics like enhancing and prioritizing mental health in healthcare workers, and THRIVE@Carver, a program where fellows develop innovative proposals to improve the work environment within UI Health Care. 

“The peer-to-peer workshops Gerard leads have been extremely well-received not only at the University of Iowa, but he has received and granted several requests to address groups of medical professionals throughout Iowa. The ripple effect of this ongoing work is especially important when one considers that if you help one physician, you help a thousand patients.” – Karen Butler, Chief of Staff, University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics

Tracy Hufford, Lecturer, Event Management Certificate Internship Coordinator, University of Iowa School of Journalism & Mass Communication

Tracy Hufford
Tracy Hufford

What started as a class project in Tracy Hufford’s Foundations of Event Management course, turned into a movement for mental health on campus. Hufford has integrated the Bandana Project, a mental health awareness and suicide prevention campaign that uses backpacks and bandanas to support peers in getting help, into her course for eight semesters. This has translated into students creating strong cross-campus connections, organizing mental health walks, tabling events, establishing a social media presence, and even partnering with organizations like UI Athletics and Campus Activity Board. An official Green Bandana Project student-led mental health organization launched on campus last Fall. With already 180 members, the group provides mental health awareness training and promotes a positive culture through sharing resources. 

“The takeaway for my students is immeasurable, not just the obvious goal of planning and executing successful events. The pride of seeing their peers identify with the Green Bandana Project and feeling they are making a difference is the best end result. Past students share their experience, it’s an emotional exchange, they say students thank them for acknowledging that mental health issues matter; students feel they have left a legacy of their work at Iowa.” – Tracy Hufford

Nominations for the Mental Health Champion Award were accepted March 1 – 24, 2023. A cross-campus committee representing the Scanlan Center for School Mental Health, Employee Assistance Program, Graduate & Professional Student Government, Medical College Counseling Center, Undergraduate Student Government, University Counseling Service, and Women’s Resource & Action Center reviewed and rated the nominations.