UAB Honors College announces new mental health initiative

The UAB Honors College is tackling mental health concerns on our university campus through a new initiative, the Mental Health Ambassadors Program. Honors Faculty Fellow, Robin Gaines Lanzi, Ph.D., who is a professor in the School of Public Health, is spearheading the program.

Dr. Lanzi was selected as one of the Honors College’s Faculty Fellows for the 2019 – 2020 academic school year based in part upon her proposal to enhance honors programming and our honors Group Photo of Mental Health Ambassador Inductees and DeansGroup Photo of Mental Health Ambassador Inductees, Deans (front row, left to right: Dr. Paul C. Erwin, Dr. Kristine Hurst-Wajszczuk and Dr. Shannon L. Blanton) and Dr. Angela Stowecommunity by delving into mental health issues with honors students. She sought to create honors programming that would make a positive impact on student wellbeing and bring awareness to a sensitive topic across the nation.

In partnership with Angela Stowe, Ph.D., director of Student Counseling Services and Wellness Promotion and Juhee Agrawal, senior in the Honors College’s Science and Technology Honors Program, Dr. Lanzi developed the unique peer-to-peer mental health promotion program to establish an opportunity to create educational resources for fellow students and leave a lasting impact on the UAB community.

The first semester focused on training students to create a proposal focused on mental health promotion, which students submitted along with the application process to become a Mental Health Ambassador. Before applying as an ambassador, interested students had to attend four specialized trainings that included Mental Health Matters, QPR Training, Active Listening and Motivational Interviewing, and Mental Health Presentation Design and Development.

Once students were selected as ambassadors, they were honored in the second semester at the induction ceremony held on Friday, Jan. 24. The newly minted program initiated 40 Mental Health Ambassadors. The ceremony awarded ambassadors certificates of achievement and included celebratory remarks from Shannon L. Blanton, Ph.D., dean of the Honors College; Kristine Hurst-Wajszczuk, D.M.A., associate dean of the Honors College; Paul C. Erwin, MD, DrPH, dean of the School of Public Health, as well as Dr. Lanzi, Dr. Stowe and Juhee Agrawal.

“Mental health and mental well-being are critical to our student’s success and their day-to-day lives,” said Robin Gaines Lanzi, Ph.D., professor in the School of Public Health. “So many of our students are facing challenging situations with their mental health. We must work together to address our students’ mental health needs. I truly believe that students want to be part of the solution. They want to help each other. They want to see bright futures for each other. Our Mental Health Ambassadors Program is about building a capacity and a culture of resiliency. One of the best ways to do this is from within – with the students for the students. I feel so very blessed to part of this amazing group of students.”

Ambassadors will play a key role in the development of mental health advocacy using practical skills to address concerns and provide information on mental health services and activities on campus. They will develop presentations for their peers, focusing on mental health awareness, resiliency and self-care.

Dr. Lanzi plans to continue the Mental Health Ambassadors Program through the 2020 – 2021 academic school year and train a new cohort of students in the fall.

Induction ceremony photos for the Mental Health Ambassadors Program are accessible online.

For more information on the program, please contact Dr. Robin Gaines Lanzi at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..