Taking your meds properly?

July 22nd, 2014 by Claudia Sloan No comments »

Half of the prescriptions taken each year in the U.S. are used improperly, and 96% of patients nationwide do not ask how to use their medications.

Harm resulting from the combination of two or more drugs taken at the same time can result in what is called adverse drug interactions.  Examples include a drug mixed with other drugs, drugs mixed with food or beverages, drugs mixed with over the counter (OTC) drugs, supplements or vitamins.

You may notice any of these reactions when taking your medications improperly:

  • Sleepiness
  • Irregular heart-beats
  • Increased bleeding
  • Hyperactivity
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Inability to sleep
  • Upset stomach

If you notice any of these contact your healthcare practitioner – explain your symptoms; when they started and whether they are different from other symptoms you have had before.  Call 911 if you believe you’re having an emergency.

Want to learn more? 


Mental health: Everyone Has It – Do YOU?

July 10th, 2014 by Claudia Sloan No comments »

July is minority mental health month

If you are concerned about your mental health, call 1-800-273-TALK or your nearest crisis line.  Help is available!

Did you know that Suicide is the 8th leading cause of death for Asian-Americans?  American Indian/Alaska Natives are twice as likely to experience feelings of nervousness or restlessness as compared to non-Hispanic Whites.  Non-Hispanic Whites are more than twice as likely to receive antidepressant prescription treatments as are Non-Hispanic Blacks.  African Americans living below the poverty level, as compared to those over twice the poverty level, are 3 times more likely to report psychological distress.  The list continues….Everyone, regardless of gender, age, income or education level, ethnicity or race, religion or other personal beliefs, can be challenged by a mental illness any given day.   Taking care of your mental health is just as important as is taking care of your physical health.  Prevention and early intervention of mental illness can improve your chances of a successful recovery.

To learn more about mental health and how to identify the signs and symptoms of a mental health challenge, try one of our Mental Health First Aid classes - they’re available throughout the State at no cost!

To learn more about minority mental health, join NAMI’s 2014 NMMHAM Celebration Webinar on Thursday, July 10, 2014 3:00 PM – 4:00 PM ET.

They have an outstanding panel this year:

  • Arthur C. Evans Jr., Ph.D., Commissioner of the Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual Disability Services, Philadelphia, PA 
  • Elicia Goodsoldier, Case Manager, Foothills United Way, Boulder Long Term Flood Recovery and NAMI Colorado Board Member
  • Melody Moezzi, award-winning author and activist

Through their experience, passion and impactful work, you will have an opportunity to learn how they are bridging the gaps in access to culturally competent care and support. Register here today! 

Greater Arizona RFP Released Today!

July 7th, 2014 by Cory Nelson No comments »

Today we released the Greater Arizona RFP for Integrated care. The RFP will encompass the fourteen counties outside of the greater Phoenix Area (Maricopa County) and will be split in two Geographic Service Areas (GSA’s). The North GSA will include the following counties: Apache, Coconino, Gila, Mohave, Navajo, Yavapai and a small portion of Graham County (zip code 85530).  The South GSA will include Cochise, Graham, Greenlee, La Paz, Pima, Pinal, Santa Cruz and Yuma Counties.

A great deal of thought and research went into these GSA configurations including resident travel patterns, availability of behavioral, primary and specialty care and tribal land alignment.  While no alignment completely meets the needs and desires of every resident we believe this alignment will provide for the best care outcomes for the individuals served under these contracts.

Bidders will be required to submit their bids in early October.  Once all bids are submitted the evaluation process will begin with an anticipated award prior to the end of 2014.  New contracts for the two new GSA’s will begin on October 1, 2015.

This is an exciting time for Arizona as we will have statewide integration of behavioral health and primary care for one of our most vulnerable populations, individuals diagnosed with a Serious Mental Illness (SMI).  Most studies indicate that individuals with an SMI die as much as 25 years earlier than the general population, many times from preventable illnesses.  Providing compassionate and coordinated care for this population will lead to an improved quality of life while managing costs associated with chronic conditions.

Stay tuned for additional information on the RFP process and follow the process at our Procurement Website or through the ADHS link.

Fidelity Review TA coming up

July 2nd, 2014 by Claudia Sloan No comments »

A class action suit—Arnold v. Sarn—was filed in 1981 against the State of Arizona alleging that the Arizona Department of Health Services/Division of Behavioral Health Services (ADHS) and Maricopa County did not provide a comprehensive community mental health system as required by statute.

In January 2014, officials at ADHS, Maricopa County, and office of the Governor reached an agreement with Plaintiffs, an exit to the Arnold v. Sarn, Parties agreed to provide certain community services and terminate the litigation. The agreement includes an increase of services in four areas: Assertive Community Treatment, Supported Employment, Supportive Housing and Peer and Family Services. The agreement also provides for the use of several tools by the parties to evaluate services provided in Maricopa County, including a quality service review, network capacity analysis and SAMHSA fidelity tools.

To prepare the community for SAMHSA fidelity tools, regular technical assistance sessions will occur. The first series, all to be held at ADHS, are scheduled as follows:

1-3 pm, July 8:                  Permanent Supportive Housing – eviction prevention/review of the tool

9-11 am, July 10:             COS – board development/review of the tool

9-11 am, July 29:             ACT – recruitment/review of the tool

1-3 pm, August 12:         SE – DB 101/review of the tool

The sessions have limited capacity, and are first come first served. For more information about locations and agendas for the sessions, contact: Kelli Donley – kelli.donley@azdhs.gov

Visit the new Arnold vs. Sarn website to learn more about Arnold vs. Sarn and the fidelity tools.

ADHS welcomes SAMHSA tools’ fidelity reviewers

June 23rd, 2014 by Claudia Sloan No comments »

In conjunction with the exit agreement for Arnold v. Sarn, ADHS is using Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) fidelity tools to evaluate the services provided to persons with a serious mental illness in Maricopa County in four areas: ACT teams, supportive housing, supported employment and peer services. In collaboration with the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE), ADHS has hired four SAMHSA fidelity reviewers.

The reviewers started in June. They are responsible for reviewing the providers in these four evidence based practice areas. The reviews will begin in July, with oversight of a SAMHSA consultant and WICHE staff.

The reviewers hired are:

Jeni Serrano

Jeni brings more than 14 years’ experience across a broad spectrum of mental and behavioral health services.  Prior experience includes serving as a Site Manager for a program dedicated to providing basic needs of seriously mentally ill adults and improving their quality of life through member-run non-clinical peer-to-peer programs; working as a Vocational Rehabilitation Specialist for the Arizona Department of Economic Security and as a Rehabilitation Specialist for Value Options; assisting individuals to become involved in or maintain involvement in meaningful daily activities, paid or unpaid. Jeni holds a B.S. Degree from State University Of New York, Empire State College.


Karen Voyer-Caravona

Karen earned a Master of Social Work, with a concentration in policy, planning, administration and community practice from Arizona State University in 2014. Also earning a Certificate in Gerontology, she completed internships at the City of Phoenix Housing Department and the Alzheimer’s Association.  In addition, Karen brings 10 years of experience as master level therapist working in a variety of treatment settings such as inpatient psychiatric, day treatment, community mental health, school-based settings and private nonprofit agencies.  Her range of clinical experience includes severe mental illness, child and family therapy, child sexual abuse, and offender treatment. In 2003, Karen left clinical practice to serve to a Legislative Aide for a Louisville Metro Councilman where she developed a passion for public policy and the legislative processes that affect social programs.

T.J. Eggsware

T.J. has 13+ years of experience working in the Maricopa County behavioral health system. He completed his Bachelor of Social Work at Wheelock College in Boston, MA.  T.J. moved to Phoenix, AZ and began his behavioral health career as a Case Manager at a RBHA managed direct care clinic serving the SMI population where he was promoted to a supervisory role.   He has held titles of Team Lead, Clinical Liaison, and Clinical Coordinator on both a specialty Supervisory Care Home team and a Forensic case management team at a clinic located in Central Phoenix. With the hope of having a broader impact on the behavioral health system, T.J. moved into an administrative role with the RBHA. He worked in Quality Management and the Learning Department. Through those roles he was able to collaborate with a variety of community stakeholders, agencies, staff, service recipients and family members.  Additionally, T.J. completed his Master of Arts in Mental Health Counseling through Argosy University in 2012 and was awarded his Licensed Associate Counselor (LAC) certification from the Arizona State Board of Behavioral Health Examiners (AZBBHE) in 2013.


Georgia Harris

Georgia is a workshop speaker and community crusader, dedicated to multi-sector improvement in communities nationwide. Most recently she was a Learning Specialist with Magellan.  She has worked throughout the RBHA for Maricopa C ounty since 2005. Georgia completed her Baccalaureate degree in Family and Social Relations at the University of Windsor in Windsor, Canada. Georgia has also completed a Master’s in Education with emphasis in Adult Education and Training at the University of Phoenix and has a technical background in radio broadcasting and audio production. She has worked in the Behavioral Health field since 2002, and has held positions in direct care; city-wide program coordination; program curriculum design and development; as well as assessment, tracking and evaluation of program outcomes. Specialty areas include: Youth and Behavioral Health, Cultural Competency, Education, Adult Learning, Bullying (traditional/ cyber/ elderly/ workplace), Social Media, Autism, program coordination, program curriculum design and development.

For any additional questions or information about the agreement, please contact: Kelli Donley – kelli.donley@azdhs.gov.

Support Men’s Health Awareness

June 19th, 2014 by Claudia Sloan No comments »

Men’s Health Month is the time to encourage men to make Prevention a Priority.

Many health conditions can be prevented or detected early with regular checkups from your healthcare provider. Regular screenings may include blood pressure, cholesterol, glucose, prostate health and more….including mental health!   Good news, taking a screening test is one of the quickest and easiest ways to check if you have any symptoms of a mental health condition.   To view an example of a mental health screening tool, visit mental health America’s online screening tools: depression; anxiety; PTSD.

To learn more about men’s health month, visit: www.menshealthmonth.org

Support Men's Health Awareness


Know the signs of heat-related illness

June 17th, 2014 by Claudia Sloan No comments »

Heat can make anyone sick, regardless of age or physical condition.  Here are some of the signs of heat illness:

  • Thirst
  • Weakness
  • Cramps
  • Headache
Heat exhaustion also may have:

  • Heavy sweating
  • Cold, pale, clammy skin
  • Fast, weak pulse,
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Fainting
Heat stroke may include:

  • High body temperature (above 103⁰ F)
  • Hot, red, dry or moist skin
  • Rapid and strong pulse
  • Possible unconsciousness

Watch this brief video to help you identify the signs of heat-related illness and learn what you can do to help someone experiencing them:


Learn about heat-related resources offered by your nearest Regional Behavioral Health Authority

Tragedy support available

June 12th, 2014 by Claudia Sloan No comments »

ADHS extends sympathy for those affected by the tragic incident at Mother of Mercy Mission and
the Roman Catholic Diocese of Phoenix.

While each person may be impacted by these types of events differently, feelings of sadness, stress, despair, strong or mixed emotions, fear, and anxiety are common.  Please know there is help available.  You are not alone!

Call our dedicated tragedy support line to speak with a trained counselor about your feelings:

1-800-203-CARE (2273)

If you’re experiencing a mental health crisis, please call your nearest crisis line:

  • 1-800-631-1314 and 602-222-9444 (Maricopa County)
  • 1-800-796-6762 or 520-622-6000 (Pima County)
  • 1-866-495-6735 (Graham, Greenlee, Cochise and Santa Cruz Counties)
  • 1-800-259-3449 (Gila River and Ak-Chin Indian Communities)
  • 1-866-495-6735 (Yuma, LaPaz, Pinal and Gila Counties)
  • 1-877-756-4090 (Mohave, Coconino, Apache, Navajo and Yavapai Counties)

Additional resources:

Learn what to expect and how to deal with trauma, including tips for adults who are assisting children deal with trauma: Coping with Loss and Trauma

Learn how to recognize and respond when someone may be developing a mental illness or experiencing a mental health crisis: Mental Health First Aid.

Additional tips and information for people living in Maricopa County: http://www.mercymaricopa.org/crisis-response-church-shooting

Recovery WORKS

June 11th, 2014 by Claudia Sloan No comments »

Our second quarterly issue of Recovery WORKS is now available!  In this issue
you will find inspiring recovery success stories, behavioral health news, resources, and/or information from our community. Our featured peer success story is about Daniel, who will share with you about going from years of  institutionalization, to homelessness, and to successful employment.

In our “Healthy Living” section you will find information and/or tips for enjoying a healthy lifestyle. This issue highlights summer safety and provides information for preventing heat-related illness. The “Dimensions
of Wellness” section in this issue highlights the “Occupational Dimension of Wellness”. Each issue explores one of the eight dimensions of wellness and provides you with ideas or resources to help address that particular dimension of wellness in your life. We hope you continue to find inspiration, encouragement, and practical knowledge through this publication.

Prevent heat-related illness this summer

June 5th, 2014 by Claudia Sloan No comments »

Climate change and extreme heat cause more deaths each year than hurricanes, lightning, tornadoes, earthquakes, and floods combined!  What can you do to reduce your risks?

 Stay COOL;


and Stay INFORMED.

One way to stay informed is to sign up for heat alerts.  You can do that HERE and follow these steps: 1) Enter your email address and click “Continue”; 2) Click the box next to “Heat Alerts”.

Our homepage also provides heat advisories as soon as they are available; likewise alerts and heat-related messages are posted on our Facebook (FB) site.

Our contracted Regional Behavioral Health Authorities (RBHAs) and providers also have information and resources to help you reduce your risks for heat-related illness this summer.  Learn more:

  • Community Partnership for Southern Arizona – online extreme heat resources - you can also obtain “surviving Arizona heat” brochures at your provider sites, shelters, and anywhere you see a CPSA booth or table at your local events.
  • Mercy Maricopa Integrated Care – heat advisories; additionally, you can attend presentations at clinics, peer support groups, and community groups where you’ll get information about water drives, hydration stations, and summer safety tips. Visit Mercy’s events website.
  • Cenpatico of AZ – “surviving Arizona heat” brochures distributed across all 8 counties at community meetings and community events and by crisis mobile teams – your provider clinics also have heat-related information available for you.  Bottled water is also available for you during extreme heat periods.
  • NARBHA - extreme heat warnings for northern Arizona will be under Member Resources and on FB.

To learn about signs and symptoms of heat related illness and how to protect yourself this summer at our website at http://www.azdhs.gov/phs/oeh/heat/extreme.htm.