As we recognize May as Mental Health Awareness Month, I’m honored to share with you the significant strides Valleywise Health is making to increase access to behavioral health services to our community.
Most Influential Women: Sherry Stotler, Valleywise Health
We began this essential role in 1978, when Valleywise opened a 92-bed behavioral health annex on our main campus at 24th Street and Roosevelt. Today, our organization has 433 licensed behavioral health beds across three hospitals, an Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) program, a First Episode Center for young adults early in the course of schizophrenia and a Behavioral Health Specialty Clinic in Mesa.
We’re expanding even more to serve our youth, adults and families:
• Integrated Behavioral Health – Since its inception in June 2017, our IBH team has grown to more than 50 staff members, including clinicians, peer support, behavioral health specialists and psychiatrists who provide services at all of our community health centers across Maricopa County. We’re expanding IBH services to the pediatric, women’s and refugee clinics in the Comprehensive Health Center – Phoenix in June.
• First Episode Center – Our FEC in Avondale, established in 2017, is at capacity with 90 enrolled members. We’re opening a second FEC in Mesa in June to help young adults in the early stages of a psychotic condition.
With $16 million in American Rescue Plan funds provided by Maricopa County last year, we’re making other improvements:
- $7 million for an outpatient clinic for the seriously mentally ill and an ACT program in the West Valley.
- $6 million to expand our Valleywise Behavioral Health Center – Mesa.
We’ve also announced significant sign-on and retention bonuses for inpatient behavioral health nurses, techs and related roles to help us overcome challenges in recruitment and retention of direct care employees.
Valleywise Health’s dedicated mental health professionals are our greatest resource. They are there every day to provide support and compassion to members of our community living with a mental health condition. They show us that treatment works, and there is no shame in seeking help.
We all have a stake in ending the stigma around mental illness. If you or a colleague or loved on is facing a crisis, please reach out for help through the 988 national 24-hour crisis hotline. We’re all here for each other.
Author: Steve Purves is president and CEO of Valleywise Health.