Todays Date:
Inspiring Success on the Road to Recovery

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

A New Year, A Day at a Time

P U B L I S H E R 'S   N O T E

By Barbara Nicholson-Brown

There always seems to be pressure to make New Year’s resolutions. In my active addiction days on the first of the year I’d promise myself and others I’d sober up and stay that way. Since I wanted people off my back about my “problem,” a part of me believed I could do it on my own. But that promise was broken within days and the shame, guilt and remorse set in once again.

One of the biggest lies I ever told myself was, if I really put my mind to it, I could stop. But I am an alcoholic, always will be and cannot stop without help. One or two was never enough and neither were a few full bottles. I drank myself to oblivion and the more I did that, the less it took to get me drunk, silly and stupid. I am so grateful and thankful and blessed I do not live that way today.

There is only one way for me to thrive in recovery.... by staying grateful, suiting and showing up, remaining teachable, open, honest, and asking for help. What I can pay forward is my experience, strength and most of all hope. No matter what our story is, or where we came from, if we are sober today we can count ourselves not only blessed, but miracles.

Take this New Year at a day at a time. This isn’t a race. 

Each day is another chance to get it right. 

Monday, December 3, 2018

Fighting Stigma

By Mercy Care Staff

It’s a warm mid-October day when Gabriel Maytorena takes his place in front of an imposing television camera that would intimidate most people. But, Gabriel just smiles calmly. The cameraman from Telemundo, one of the Valley’s Spanish-language television news stations, adjusts the camera to just the right angle. He tests the microphone to make sure it captures Gabriel’s every word. Then, as the camera starts rolling, he asks Gabriel about his experience living with mental health disorders.
Gabriel explains how he felt when he was first diagnosed with bipolar disorder, anxiety, depression and schizophrenia at the age of 12.

It was overwhelming. Confusing. Uncertainty about the future washed over him.

He talks to the cameraman about how he copes with his mental illnesses. And, he talks about why it’s important for others to also share their stories.

“I first realized how important it was to share my story when I was introduced to a community of my peers,” Gabriel said. “Instead of being cautious of me, they welcomed me whole-heartedly into the community.”

One of the young men in the community that Gabriel joined at that time had just died by suicide. He realized early on how stigma around mental illness can contribute to those types of outcomes.

To those people who may harbor shame about their mental illness, Gabriel encourages them to instead fight the stigma.
If they don’t fight stigma then “the battle is already lost,” he said.

“It’s going take as many individuals as the community can muster, at their full potential, to get close to getting rid of stigma,” Gabriel said. “Every action, every thought, every person matters.”
Being involved, fighting stigma is part of Gabriel’s mission.

He’s a member of various leadership and advisory groups, including Mercy Care’s Youth Leadership Council. He’s talked to lawmakers about the importance of continuing to fund behavioral health programs. And, he’s working on developing leadership training events for other youth experiencing mental health problems as a way to fight stigma.

Stigma: What is it and how can it hurt people?

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), the grassroots mental health organization dedicated to improving the lives of the millions of Americans affected by mental illness, describes stigma this way:
“Stigma is when someone, or even you yourself, views a person in a negative way just because they have a mental health condition. Some people describe stigma as a feeling of shame or judgement from someone else. Stigma can even come from an internal place, confusing feeling bad with being bad.”

Navigating life with a mental health condition can be tough, and the isolation, blame and secrecy that is often encouraged by stigma can create huge challenges to reaching out, getting needed support and living well.”

NAMI’s website offers some insight into the damaging effect of stigma, and how we can learn to avoid and address stigma. Here are some of stigma’s effects:

People experiencing mental health conditions often face rejection, bullying and discrimination. This can make their journey to recovery longer and more difficult.

Mental health conditions are the leading cause of disability across the United States.

Even though most people can be successfully treated, less than half of the adults in the U.S. who need services and treatment get the help they need.

The average delay between the onset of symptoms and intervention is 8-10 years.

Suicide is the second leading cause of death of youth ages 15-24 and the tenth leading cause of death for all Americans.

Stigma and suicide

Mercy Care and its employees are committed to fighting stigma. We sponsor and participate in many community events to raise awareness about mental health and stigma, including the NAMI Valley Walk, Mental Health Night with the Phoenix Mercury and the Art of Recovery Expo. We participate in ongoing training, such as Mental Health First Aid and suicide awareness training called safeTalk.

And we support suicide prevention efforts through training and partnership with community organizations.

Heather L. Brown, Mercy Care’s Prevention Administrator, works to raise awareness about the intersection of suicide and stigma.

There is so much stigma out there about talking about mental health in general. But, then, consider suicide, which is especially hard to discuss, based on cultural, religious, and societal views.

“Part of the work we do in raising awareness about the public health issue of suicide is encouraging people to talk more openly and honestly about suicide, because it's the best way to ensure they will get help when they need it,” she said. 

She knows there are so many people that want to help, but may not know what to say or do.
“Stigma unfortunately prevents us from helping sometimes because we are worried about the consequences of talking about suicide. For the person who's thinking about it, they are not sure who they can trust to take them seriously, who will not judge them for what they are thinking about, and most importantly, who will help them,” she said. 

She noted that sometimes the people who want to help avoid asking about suicide because they think they're going to give someone the idea, or say the wrong thing, or that it's none of their business.

“Ultimately, we have to risk being helpfully nosey and asking the direct question in order to save lives,” she said. “Using the word "suicide" takes away its stigma, and lets persons with thoughts of suicide know that you are someone who cares and who takes things seriously. People who are thinking about suicide are often suffering in silence, and often don't get the help they need. It's time we all make a commitment to make suicide prevention our business.”

Stigma: How can we fight it?

All of us in the mental health community need to raise our voices against stigma. Every day, in every possible way, we need to stand up to stigma.
If you’re not sure how, here are nine ways NAMI’s Facebook community responded to the question: “How do you fight stigma?”

Talk Openly About Mental Health

“I fight stigma by talking about what it is like to have bipolar disorder and PTSD on Facebook. Even if this helps just one person, it is worth it for me.” – Angela Christie Roach Taylor

Educate Yourself and Others

“I take every opportunity to educate people and share my personal story and struggles with mental illness. It doesn’t matter where I am, if I over hear a conversation or a rude remark being made about mental illness, or anything regarding a similar subject, I always try to use that as a learning opportunity and gently intervene and kindly express how this makes me feel, and how we need to stop this because it only adds to the stigma.” – Sara Bean

Be Conscious of Language

“I fight stigma by reminding people that their language matters. It is so easy to refrain from using mental health conditions as adjectives and in my experience, most people are willing to replace their usage of it with something else if I explain why their language is problematic.” – Helmi Henkin

Encourage Equality Between Physical and Mental Illness

“I find that when people understand the true facts of what a mental illness is, being a disease, they think twice about making comments. I also remind them that they wouldn’t make fun of someone with diabetes, heart disease or cancer.” – Megan Dotson

Show Compassion for Those with Mental Illness

“I offer free hugs to people living outdoors, and sit right there and talk with them about their lives. I do this in public, and model compassion for others. Since so many of our homeless population are also struggling with mental illness, the simple act of showing affection can make their day but also remind passersby of something so easily forgotten: the humanity of those who are suffering.” – Rachel Wagner

Choose Empowerment over Shame

“I fight stigma by choosing to live an empowered life. To me, that means owning my life and my story and refusing to allow others to dictate how I view myself or how I feel about myself.” – Val Fletcher

Be Honest About Treatment

“I fight stigma by saying that I see a therapist and a psychiatrist. Why can people say they have an appointment with their primary care doctor without fear of being judged, but this lack of fear does not apply when it comes to mental health professionals?” – Ysabel Garcia

Let the Media Know When They’re Stigmatizing

“If I watch a program on TV that has any negative comments, story lines or characters with a mental illness, I write to the broadcasting company and to the program itself. If Facebook has any stories where people make ignorant comments about mental health, then I write back and fill them in on my son’s journey with schizoaffective disorder.” – Kathy Smith

Don’t Harbor Self-Stigma

“I fight stigma by not having stigma for myself—not hiding from this world in shame, but being a productive member of society. I volunteer at church, have friends, and I’m a peer mentor and a mom. I take my treatment seriously. I’m purpose driven and want to show others they can live a meaningful life even while battling [mental illness].” – Jamie Brown

Read the full blog at https://www.nami.org/Blogs/NAMI-Blog/October-2017/9-Ways-to-Fight-Mental-Health-Stigma


Mercy Care Complete Care Member Services representatives are available to help you Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Just call 602-263-3000 or toll-free 1-800-624-3879 (TTY/TDD 711).

Mercy Care RBHA Member
Services at 602-586-1841, toll-free at 1-800-564-5465 or (TTY/TDD) 711. Representatives are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

National Alliance on Mental Illness  |  www.nami.org
      Check out NAMI’s Cure Stigma Campaign at www.curestigma.org

Mental Health America   |  www.mentalhealthamerica.net

Suicide Prevention Lifeline  |  www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org

American Association of Suicidology  |  www.suicidology.org/

Behavioral Health Crisis Line  602-222-9444

Taming Your Inner Two-Year-Old: The Ego

By Carla Giglio, LMSW

We often hear a lot of talk about the ego. Once known as a foundational and integral piece of the human psyche, the ego has come to be known as an internal dragon that needs to be slayed at all costs. Death of the ego is often the ultimate goal for serious spiritual seekers looking to breakthrough to their divine, authentic self.

For every day folks who may not want to embark on a disciplined meditation practice or to ingest ayahuasca in the Amazon to (temporarily) slay their ego, we still have to contend with our ego at every step of our lives. How we decide to interact with our ego and how much power we give our it is the real objective.

Good or bad? 

Instead of looking at ego as a noun, and something that is, it may be helpful to look at the ego as a verb, and the function it performs in our life. Ego can serve as a protector, negotiator, mediator and an insulator. The way we need to look at ego is, “Is my ego helping or hurting me?” “Is my ego serving me or am I serving my ego?”

Learning to discern the ego is the first step. You can begin to identify when ego is in the driver’s seat by being aware of certain feelings that arise when it  is threatened or doesn’t get its way — just like a bratty little two-year-old that wants what he wants when he wants it.

When you feel like you are being made to be “wrong” in a situation, you will get angry, feel belittled or feel like you don’t deserve being treated a certain way, the ego’s hackles immediately go up and goes into fight mode. You will either want to retaliate with words, actions or getting “even.” Even if this is not a conscious dialogue in your head, your behavior will be taken over by a sense of inner justice for your “self” versus the other.

The ego always wants to see itself as “good” — having done, looked and acted good, yet that’s not always the case. The ego has a hard time admitting it has done something “bad” — especially in relation to hurting others.

Ego doesn’t like looking bad, it can justify its actions as a way to keep up our facade of looking and feeling good. When we truly learn to identify our ego and challenge its ways, we begin to live more of an authentic life. A life inspired by our authentic self.

In recovery we have to contend with all the wrong, shameful and hurtful things we did in the throes of addiction. Acknowledging and owning it all is not an easy task, but it is critical to the health of ego and the growth of “self.”

Shame and disappointment need to be allowed to seep into your ego, rather than your ego repelling shame because it is too painful to face. We learn from owning our shameful moments and move on.

You don’t need to stay in shame, but you will if you don’t contend with it properly. Just because we do “bad” doesn’t mean we are “bad.”

A transaction with an unhealthy ego may sound like this: “It’s no big deal that I stole his liquor, he wasn’t drinking it anyway. What does it matter?”

A healthy ego may sound like this, “Stealing is wrong, and I don’t condone it for any reason. I was in a bad place at the time and need to apologize to him.”

When your ego accompanies you during the recovery process, it is helpful to realize it may not always be rooting for YOUR best interest. It is important to learn to discern between your ego’s voice and your true, inner voice. How? By sharpening the skills of learning healthy introspection. By learning to distinguish between the ego and its need to be good and of the inner self, who possesses a clearer, truer, compass for your well-being.

When your ego gets “checked” you may feel belittled, angry, humiliated or threatened and ego’s reflex may be to attack back and lash out. Instead, when you feel like your ego is being checked, run the scenario through the lens of your inner self, and ask yourself:

  • Does what this person is saying have any validity? Why? Why not?
  • What about what they said is making me so -------?
  • What about this statement is triggering me to feel this way?
  • What can I learn from this?

Learning to keep ego in check means the ability to realize the lens in which you may be looking at a situation may be tainted by ego’s needs, and not what’s best for YOU, the person. An unhealthy ego does not like to take in new information because that means ego was lacking, and it does not like to feel inadequate.

Learning to discern the ego’s voice from your true, inner voice or authentic self is a skill. But learning to check your ego can make a very significant difference in your life. When led by your ego, new information can be easily shut out, and opportunity for real growth missed. When you soften your ego or push it aside, new perspectives can be seen, and new choices can be made. A healthy ego should be fluid and ever changing. Ego should be adjusted to be a framework, not a shield.
Ego work is a lifelong journey that requires mindfulness, being in the present and aware. By being conscious, you can empower yourself to turn the ego dragon into an ally and friend.

Carla Giglio, MSW, is a counselor turned Recovery Coach, NLP and Hypnotherapy trained, an advocate and pre-coach for entheogenic life healing and Associate Adjunct Professor at Grand Canyon University. 

Her practice is in Scottsdale and she can be reached at TheRecoveryCoachPhoenix@gmail.com and 718-710-9890.

Native Americans Don’t Need to Fight Drug and Alcohol Addiction in Silence

There’s a quiet struggle that remains across the Indian reservations across North America. Within these sacred boundaries of ancient and coveted traditions, lies a community whose cries are loud but only seem to echo a whisper amongst the mainstream. While the news headlines boast a sustained economic rebound as well as escalating job growth and GDP in the United States, it hardly scratches the surface in the tribal communities.

What is evident — an emotionally impoverished nation amongst indigenous peoples. Not in culture, in fact they bear some of the richest heritage. Then again, they are America’s first people. But their strength in rituals is silently overshadowed by the pain that exists from ongoing drug use prevalent in the community. Native Americans struggle each day to fight drug and alcohol addiction, but lack of resources is the overwhelming culprit to a less than desirable response.

Alcohol Addiction and Drug Dependency in Tribal Nation Well Above Other Populations
SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services), the CDC (U.S. Centers for Disease Control) and other government agencies monitor and assess alcohol and drug use across the country each year. They weigh increases and decreases, trends, and segment use by age, gender and community.

For decades, evidence shows that Native Americans have a higher rate of substance abuse with correspondingly dangerous consequences to emotional, mental and physical health.

Root Causes for Addiction in Native Indian Population Include Neuroscience

Scientific and medical research case studies have long documented many underlying causes for drug and alcohol misuse and prolonged dependency. Some of the reasons include environmental circumstances (living in poverty or physical, emotional or sexual abuse, poor sustenance), sudden and traumatic life event (death of a loved one, divorce, or injury) as well as a genetic predisposition (familial, generational use). But there is another component to these layers of causation that increase the need or craving for use in Native Americans.

Physiology and Addiction to Sugar

The human is designed to function collectively with the body reacting to the messages sent by the brain. Within our mind is an area that responds to how we feel pain and perceive it. Through neurotransmitters, we are able to deal with pain by our natural ability to deflect it as much as possible, through our pleasure and pain center. It might sound strange but to some degree we are meant to withstand a certain level of pain. However, of course, we prefer the sensations related to pleasure.
The typical American diet includes the consumption of sugar. Even if you’re careful and choose not to eat processed sugar, many of our common foods include sugar such as breads, pasta, yogurt, milk, and more. Our bodies process complex carbohydrates in the same manner as they would a spoonful of sugar. When ingested, sugar ignites our pleasure center, much like alcohol and drug intake. Some people can process this more effectively than others.
For Native American peoples, by sheer genetics and physiology, there is a heightened risk for substance abuse. As with all chemical dependency, over time, the body and brain health are compromised, opening the door to a host of other issues adversely affecting physical and mental health.

Diabetes, Kidney Failure and Cancer Leading Chronic Diseases in Native Americans

According to the CDC, SAMHSA, IHS (Indian Health Services) and other healthcare agencies, the people who live on our reservations and those of indigenous descent have a greater risk in developing these medical conditions.

Living with purpose is an important element to experience a passion for life. But unfortunately, for generations, many Native Americans live in substandard environments and without the necessary financial resources or health services to effectively identify behavioral health issues.

Poor diet that lacks in proper nutrition will also diminish proper brain function, further igniting the cravings for sugar. The body also processes alcohol like sugar. Because there is an imbalance, causing an increase in stress and inflammation to the body, cravings for alcohol become more evident fueling more use.

When the body can no longer process sugar effectively, diabetes can occur. Alcoholism harms liver and kidney function. The Native American community has twice the rate of diabetes compared to Caucasians in the U.S., with diabetes also at the root cause of kidney failure in two out of every 3 Native Americans.

Diabetes, left untreated, can lead to blindness, loss of extremities, limbs and life. The suffering is often unbearable and limited resources in Maricopa County were the disconnect between those that needed help and viable solutions available. But change is not only on the horizon, it has arrived.

Outreach to Native American Communities Is Crucial to Change the Cycle

Chris Cohn, Founder of Scottsdale Recovery Center, announced the treatment center’s partnership with Arizona state’s Indian Health Services this month. Persons of tribal nations can seek relief from drug and alcohol addiction, as well as treatment for mental health conditions (common with addiction) at the Center, simply by acknowledging their culture, verifying their insurance coverage and starting the process online.

Time is of the essence. The youth of our reservations exude a hopelessness that’s seemingly contagious. While we’ve seen as escalation in the incidences of attempted and realized suicides from teenagers in this country, the numbers in Native American communities of adolescent and young adult suicides are alarming.

Beyond the Shame and Stigma, Addiction Recovery Touches Community
Drug and alcohol addiction has no boundaries and hurts households, neighborhoods and counties across North America. The destruction is swift, yet silent, and indigenous communities have known this long before the opioid epidemic ever began.

Find Out More about Addiction Treatment Services for Native Americans Here

Talk to Someone Who’s Been There. Talk to Someone Who Can Help. Scottsdale Recovery Center holds the highest accreditation (Joint Commission) and is Arizona’s premier rehab facility since 2007. Call 866-893-1276.

Content for Scottsdale Recovery Center and Arizona Addiction Recovery Centers created by Cohn Media, LLC. Passionate and creative writing and broadcasting, covering the following industries: addiction rehab, health care, entertainment, technology and advocate of clear communication, positivity and humanity at its best. www.cohn.media

The Real Presence

Br Dr. Dina Evan

Ho Ho Ho! Thought I’d start this column with a few of those because this era has brought so much stress and so very few ho, ho’s, we could use a few right now. It has also fine-tuned my antenna with reference to the importance of real in my life. Even with the people I love the most, I find superficial agonizing. I feel myself yelling inside, “Don’t you know we are running out of time, and this moment is precious. Stop the busyness and come connect with me.
Let me hold you and tell you how loved you are, what you have contributed to my life and my character.” Maybe it’s because I am old or ill, but it feels as if every moment should mean something, but the truth is I have always felt that way, because ultimately, we all get to this place where we look back to see what we have accomplished and what there is yet to do. We don’t need to wait until the end of our lives, we can do that each year, in fact, we can do that each day.
This feels like a perfect time to pause and reflect on this past year, to remember both the challenges we have overcome and the missteps from which we may still be learning. We can look at our promises made and broken, our intentions left unfulfilled and those we fully fulfilled. We can look at the times we were terrified, but still, took a deep breath and stepped into every challenge and great adventure. And equally as important, the times we stepped back in doubt, forgetting the Universe always has our back.

So how do we get to real? 

For me, it’s about telling the truth, even when it’s not comfortable or it reveals a flaw in us that we are working on. It’s about staying attentive and present to the things we may not want to know or hear — and understanding that by doing so we are pushing our souls forward into being who we really want to be. Real is about being flexible and open to possibilities and probabilities without compromising our integrity or truth.
Being present doesn’t have to mean we end up always somber or serious. It can also mean we are filled with outrageous joy and happiness and are willing to embrace it fully without holding back, releasing the fear that we will lose it if we don’t hold on tightly. I promise you that right behind that next challenge there is always another moment of unbridled joy if you are present and awake.           

Life unfolds, moment by moment, in the present. But so often, we are not in any of those moments. We are either dwelling in the past with regret or shame, or future-scaping with worry and fear. We lose time as we allow it to rush past unnoticed and lost. We are squandering the precious seconds of our lives as we worry about the future and ruminate about what's past. "We're living in a world that contributes in a major way to mental fragmentation, disintegration, distraction, decoherence," says Buddhist scholar B. Alan Wallace.
So my point is that maybe this, isn’t a time for presents, but rather a time for more presence. It’s a time to do more, to love more, to conquer more fear and be profoundly present to our purpose and path. It’s a time to express our appreciation to those who have chosen to dance with us in this incredible experiment. That way, at the end of every year we can look back and say, I did what I came here to do and I became who I came here to be.

Think about it! 

Nothing is more important and that is why we have put up the tools and the exercises you need that will help you in addition to our video series. Now most of the time when you read that line the next one is how much it costs. Well here is our present to you, IT COSTS NOTHING!
We ask only for your time and commitment and the promise that you will join us in helping to wake the world up by sharing the information with those whom you love. It’s our present and presence to you and we give it with great joy and love.

Just go to DrDinaEvan.com    Happy holidays to all.

Savor the Precious Moments

Savor the Precious Moments

The longer I am on this earth, the more I realize the importance of savoring the moments — they are passing by too quickly. This year was filled with many gifts, starting with a deeper commitment to my recovery, followed by new friendships; a stronger bond and connection with my sister and brother; a trip abroad, yet along with all the highlights, there was the loss of four friends, who I loved and cared about deeply. One moment here, the next not. The people who are new in my life and those I’ve lost — have all helped and guided me on my recovery road.

When I drank and used, the only people who mattered to me were the ones who could buy or supply the drink or drug that I craved. Friends and family who knew me in those days called me a loose cannon, a walking target for something really bad to happen, and somehow I was spared my life. I was given one more chance to get it right at exactly the right moment. Too scared to live or die, with “outside” help (perhaps my biggest precious moment) I leaped into sobriety head on.

I’ve said it before, the first commitment I ever made and kept has been to sobriety. Through all the good, bad, sadness, grief, laughter or love, I cannot stay sober without honoring that commitment every day, night and minute in between.

We’ve all heard when the student is ready the teacher arrives. To my teachers, I am grateful. I’ve learned from you the meaning of integrity, honesty, ethics, morals and truth. I’ve learned how to listen, forgive, and have compassion. I’ve learned gratitude is more than being thankful, it’s way bigger than that. Thank you for allowing me to fulfill my purpose on this amazing journey we are on together.

Happy Holidays.

This issue is dedicated to the memory of my friends
Ben Gallaway, Bob Maynard, 
Christopher Kennedy Lawford and Bill Forrest.  
Thank you guys for being in my life and for the precious moments.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Living Our Purpose

The Path to Achieving Miracles and 
Providing Lasting Hope  

By Aaron Wilson, MD, Chief Medical Officer, Sierra Tucson

I distinctly remember the first time I drove through the gates of Sierra Tucson and experienced an overwhelming feeling of belonging. If the towering peaks of the Santa Catalina Mountains and the lush desert encompassing me weren’t captivating enough, certainly the sign that greeted me — Expect A Miracle — on the ascending driveway, was. At that moment, I knew that I was somewhere exceptional, a place complementary to my deepest professional ambitions.

It was in medical school where I came face-to-face with my professional destiny. As a student at Tulane University in New Orleans in 2005, I found myself in the middle of one of this country’s worst natural disasters — Hurricane Katrina.  Along with my fellow classmates, I was surrounded by the devastating wake of one of the most infamous weather catastrophes in recent U.S. history.

With an opportunity to provide support to those traumatized by the disastrous event and its aftermath, I felt a deep satisfaction as our teams were deployed to assist. There were untold numbers of individuals suffering from mental health challenges, and I found myself ardently driven to assist in any capacity. Five years later, and the explosion in the Gulf of Mexico of the British Petroleum drilling rig, Deep Water Horizon, affirmed my calling. I, again, had the opportunity to serve this same community stricken by overwhelming loss and trauma.

And now, all these years later, I have the distinct privilege of continuing my service and commitment to community as the Chief Medical Officer at one of the premier residential treatment facilities in the country. At Sierra Tucson, I am not only applying my many years of experience attending to the behavioral and mental health care of people in high-impact emergency zones in the service of our residents, but I’m also in a unique position to see, meet, and hire other similarly driven and passionate professionals, all with their own stories of why they chose one of the toughest, yet most rewarding, branches of the medical profession.

I am happy to announce that, since joining Sierra Tucson in March, over the last seven months we have added seven experts to our elite medical team here at Sierra Tucson, each nationally and internationally recognized specialists in their respective practice areas:

  • James Seymour, MD, Director of Trauma Recovery Program 
  • Jerome Lerner, MD, Director of Executive and Licensed Professional Program 
  • Jasleen Chhatwal, MD, Director of Mood Program 
  • Brandon Yates, MD, Attending Psychiatrist, Mood Program 
  • Janaka Sarathchandra, MD, Attending Psychiatrist, Desert Flower 
  • Donnie Sansom, MD, Medical Services, Attending Physician, Addiction/Co-Occurring Program 
  • Janet Tinkey, DNP, PMHNP-BC, Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner, Desert Flower  

Why I am so certain of their place at Sierra Tucson is because of their unwavering dedication to our signature integrative mental health approach and their heart for recovery. In addition, they all subscribe to our ‘less is more’ approach to medication management and will continue to champion Sierra Tucson’s Prescribing with Purpose movement.

For all of us, whether we are new to Sierra Tucson, or long-time veterans, this is truly a unique time in our 35-year history. We are experiencing unprecedented expansion to meet the growing demand for the care we provide. In April, we broke ground on a new 30,895-square-foot Behavioral Health Inpatient Lodge. The $16.5 million expansion will include 44 licensed beds, integrative therapy rooms, a new pharmacy center, expanded facilities for individualized treatment, and a dedicated admission center. 

Yet, even in the midst of the excitement that expansion can bring, we haven’t lost sight of the fact that whenever individuals make the very difficult decision to seek residential treatment, they are often at their lowest point in their lives. That is why we believe that individualized care and proper diagnosis, from the start, represent the core of our responsibility. Our patients and their families don’t care about how many books or peer-reviewed articles our doctors have written, or how many lectures she or he travels to present around the world. Instead, individuals come to Sierra Tucson expecting a miracle. And, they expect our brilliant doctors, nurses, and therapists to care as much about delivering their miracle as earnestly as they wish to receive one.

But miracles don’t just happen
Miracles are the result of dedication and hard work, and from the gritty resolve of a treatment team that believes in collaborating with each other, as well as collaboration with our trusted referents and after-care providers. Miracles at Sierra Tucson also include families. Our providers work directly with our patients each day and with their family members during Family Week. Families have an opportunity to sit down next to their loved ones and meet with our providers to discuss diagnoses and medications, as well as to ask every question they wish. At a time in their lives when things can look so frightening and hope can seem so elusive, it’s the individualized care that is a Sierra Tucson hallmark that our residents and their families relish.

We don’t use the word ‘miracle’ lightly at Sierra Tucson. While many treatment facilities struggle with provider shortages, I am grateful to say that we have been able to recruit the best and finest group of experts in the industry to polish off our distinguished team. We believe that every individual who steps foot inside our facility is looking for the kind of help that gives them enduring hope. Our treatment team’s goal is to provide that hope, not only when they are here, but long after they’ve left. This is why we can confidently post another sign that individuals can’t help but see as they exit our campus– You Are a Miracle – and it is our collective goal to help them truly believe it. Visit www. sierratucson.com.