Oct. 5-11 is Mental Illness Awareness Week

October 3rd, 2014 by Claudia Sloan No comments »

Anyone could experience a mental health challenge – mental illness is more common that often thought of.  In fact, one in four adults experience some type of mental illness in any given year.

In 1990, Congress designated the first full week of October as Mental Illness Awareness Week to focus attention on mental health issues and treatment.

Join us wearing a green ribbon this week to show your support for those struggling with a mental illness!


Celebrating Peer Support During Recovery Month

September 30th, 2014 by Claudia Sloan No comments »

Recovery from mental or substance use disorders doesn’t happen alone.  Peers are an important part of the recovery process.  A peer is someone that shares the same experience.


A person that has recovered or is working on recovering from a mental or substance use disorder can offer firsthand knowledge and understanding.  Their experiences can be a guide on the road to recovery.  They can also help with someone who wants to start or continue recovery.


Some of the important things that peer support provides are:


  • Emotional support – showing empathy, caring and concern
  • Informational support – help finding information and in learning new skills
  • Instrumental support – help filling out forms, with child care or transportation
  • Affiliation support – help building positive relationships


A peer can help set goals, solve problems, access resources, and build social networks.  They offer positive reassurance and provide a feeling of belonging and community. Peer-operated supports and services provide important resources to assist in recovery and wellness.

I’d like to end this year’s 25th anniversary of Recovery Month with a big Thank You to all Peer Support Specialists giving your best each day to help a peer!

Recovery IS Possible!

September 29th, 2014 by Claudia Sloan No comments »

Most people with mental health problems or substance abuse issues can get better. Recovery is a process of change.  In recovery a person works to improve health and wellness, lead a self-directed life and reach their full potential.

There are four important areas to work on in recovery:

  • Health: Manage your condition or symptoms and make good choices for your mental and physical health. For example, don’t use alcohol or drugs if you have a substance use disorder.
  • Home: Have a stable and safe place to live
  • Purpose: Have something to do every day, such as a job or school, volunteering, caring for your family, or being creative.
  • Community: Build relationships and social networks that provide support, friendship, love and hope.

With help, people with mental or substance use disorders do improve.  They have fewer or no symptoms and are able to manage their issue. Research shows that treatment success rates for many mental disorders are as high as 90 percent.  Treatment for substance use disorders also has positive results.  Treatment can help with stopping substance use and avoiding relapse.

Treatment and recovery are ongoing processes that happen over time. But in order to recover, you have to take the first step, get help.

Learn more at www.recoverymonth.org

First Step to Recovery

September 25th, 2014 by Claudia Sloan No comments »

Anyone with a mental or substance use disorder might find it challenging taking the first step toward recovery. Knowing some of the signs and symptoms of these conditions can help in finding help and getting better.

Do you know the signs of mental illness? Symptoms may include social withdrawal and loss of interest in others.  Problems with concentration, memory, or logical thought are also signs of a mental disorder.  In addition someone suffering with this problem might have issues with speech, or heightened sensitivity to sights, sounds, smells or touch.

Other signs include:

  • Feeling very sad or tired for more than two weeks
  • Trying to hurt yourself or planning to commit suicide
  • Not eating, throwing up, or using laxatives to lose weight
  • Worries or fear that gets in the way of daily life
  • Severe mood swings
  • Extreme changes in behavior or personality

Some signs and symptoms of a substance use problem include:

  • Sudden weight loss
  • Loss of interest in favorite activities
  • Sudden drop in grades or skipping school
  • Change in friends or behavior problems
  • Stealing
  • Loss of appetite

Once someone understands that they have a problem, they can take that very important first step to get help.  Recovery can improve quality of life and is one of the best and most cost-effective ways to improve health.

Learn more of the signs and symptoms through a mental health first aid class: www.mentalhealthfirstaidaz.com

New Quarterly Suicide Prevention Network Call

September 23rd, 2014 by Claudia Sloan No comments »

For those interested in suicide prevention, the Phoenix Area IHS Behavioral Health program is initiating a quarterly Suicide Prevention Network call.  The first call will begin on October 9th from 9:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.  The call provides a forum for behavioral health programs in Arizona, Nevada, and Utah to learn, discuss community needs, share successes and challenges, distribute information and upcoming training opportunities. The network invites IHS, tribal, and urban behavioral health programs as well as other federal, state and local organizations to participate in the network. 


The Phoenix Area IHS has nine Methamphetamine/Suicide Prevention Initiative (MSPI) awardees in our area. 

The calls will occur on a quarterly basis beginning October 9, 2014 (the 2nd Thursday of the selected month).

The call dates for the 2014/2015 year: 

October 16th, 2014

January 8th, 2015 

April 9th, 2015

July 9th, 2015

October 8th, 2015


The call in number is 866-615-3677; participate passcode is 999995.

For more information, contact: Kelli.donley@azdhs.gov.

Arnold v. Sarn Dismissed

September 23rd, 2014 by Cory Nelson No comments »

Yesterday marked an important day in Arizona history.  The longstanding Arnold v. Sarn lawsuit was formally dismissed by the court.  Why that is important is that it demonstrates Arizona’s commitment to creating and maintaining a vibrant community based system of care.  That wasn’t always the case in Arizona so we are thankful for the opportunities that were originally created by the lawsuit and for the commitment of Governor Brewer and others that helped shape the system and create a sustainable infrastructure for its success.  The dismissal does not mean our work is done however.  We have embedded the principles of the lawsuit in our contracts and funding models and will continue to move the system forward with thing like integration that will help improve the overall health outcomes for members.  Finally, I would just like to say thank you to all the members, providers, RBHA staff and state employees that worked on shaping the system over the years.  We have a great deal to be proud of and will continue to build upon your efforts.

Hopi Tribe’s suicide prevention day

September 19th, 2014 by Claudia Sloan No comments »

On September 10, 2014, members of the Hopi Tribe gathered at the Hotevilla Bacavi Community School to celebrate National Suicide prevention Day. The event included breakout sessions for teens, elders, veterans and those with mental illness. There was a candlelight vigil too.  Way to go, thank you for sharing with us! 

FACT team in Maricopa County

September 14th, 2014 by Claudia Sloan No comments »

We are pleased to share with you that Mercy Maricopa Integrated Care has recently implemented a new Forensic Assertive Community Treatment (FACT) team under the direction of Community Bridges.  The new FACT team will address the unique needs of people who have been diagnosed with a serious mental illness and who have had involvement with the criminal justice system.

FACT is designed to reduce recidivism and assist our highest-need members with a full array of community-based supports and services delivered in a wrap-around model so they can achieve their recovery goals and maintain in the community.

The Community Bridges team is one of four Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) teams that Mercy Maricopa intends to add to the system in FY15 and it will be the RBHA’s second FACT team. The new 13-member team will complement the work of the Regional Behavioral Health Authority’s existing FACT team, operated by People of Color Network, by using the evidence based practice to:

Identify and engage members with complex, high needs;

Remove barriers to services and supports;

Address the whole person and provide a full range of community-based services and supports wherever and whenever they are needed;

Reduce hospitalizations and contact with the criminal-justice system, improve health outcomes and help establish and strengthen natural community supports.

FACT team members have experience in psychiatry, nursing, social work, rehabilitation services, substance-abuse interventions, employment support, independent-living skills and housing. A key member of the team is a peer who has lived experience with behavioral health challenges and prior interaction with the criminal justice system.

The team will assist members with following treatment plans, activities of daily living, employment-related services, finding and maintaining affordable housing, budgeting, obtaining benefits and engaging in community activities, delivering services in accordance with SAMHSA  evidence-based practices.

Discussions with system partners, providers and the community, supported by evidence in the ADHS Service Capacity Assessment Priority Service Areas Report, clearly demonstrated the need for an additional FACT team. Studies have shown that members served on FACT teams experience significant reductions in arrests, jail days, hospital days and hospitalizations.

Community Bridges has a long history of significant experience with this population, including work with the chronically homeless in Project H3 and Project H3 Vets, and at its crisis stabilization and detox facilities. Community Bridges already partners with the criminal-justice system and law-enforcement, and is well prepared to identify members and accept referrals from these systems, as well as from hospitals, clinics and the crisis system.

“It’s a population that Community Bridges is passionate about. It’s a population that we’ve had good success with,” said Chief Operations Officer John Hogeboom. “We’ve had relationships with these folks, so when the opportunity presented itself we jumped at it.”

Currently, 15 ACT teams across Maricopa County are available to serve 1,500 members. In FY14, these teams served approximately 1,360 members, which a vacancy rate of 8 percent. Like the other teams, the new Community Bridges FACT team will serve 100 members, bringing the total program capacity to 1,600 members. By the end of FY15, 19 teams will be in place with the capacity to serve 1,900 members. Four additional teams are planned for FY16.

As Mercy Maricopa expands the number of ACT teams, we will work with providers and stakeholders to determine the need for additional specialty teams, targeted provider education and technical assistance. We continue to provide ongoing technical support to ACT team providers to improve member engagement strategies and ensure fidelity to SAMHSA evidence based practice.

“Expanding the capacity of this critical program holds tremendous promise to make a real difference in the lives of the members we serve and their families, as well as significantly impact the health-care, crisis and criminal justice systems, and the overall community,” said Tad Gary, chief clinical officer for Mercy Maricopa. “Through this collaborative effort, we will help more people break the cycle of incarceration, homelessness and hospitalization so they can achieve their life goals.”


For additional information about the new FACT team, the ACT model or readiness reviews, please contact Alisa Randall at randalla2@mercymaricopa.org or Crystal Domblisky-Klein at domblisky-kleinc@mercymaricopa.org.


Suicide prevention week

September 12th, 2014 by Claudia Sloan No comments »

This week is National Suicide Prevention week. Officials at the Arizona Department of Health Services are working with community leaders and stakeholders to better understand what resources are needed to prevent future suicide in our state. In 2012, some 1100 Arizonans took their own lives.

Regional meetings in Flagstaff, Tucson and Phoenix have taken place in the last two weeks to meet with community stakeholders about localized projects and successes. Many tribal leaders have participated in these conversations too. Together, these community leaders and ADHS employees will work to edit the state’s strategic plan for suicide prevention. Ideally, this plan will include detailed information on the successes and areas of improvement needed across the state’s 15 counties and 23 tribes.

For more information about the plan or suicide prevention, contact: Kelli Donley kelli.donley@azdhs.gov

Recovery month: learn the facts

September 11th, 2014 by Claudia Sloan No comments »

By learning about behavioral health and spreading the word that prevention works, treatment is effective, and people recover, you can help persons with substance use and mental health challenges get the essential treatment and recovery support services they need.  Try it during National Recovery month!


FACT: Mental illness doesn’t discriminate — it can affect anyone at anytime, regardless of age, ethnic background, gender or income.

Learn more: