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The Arizona Behavioral Health awards will be presented at a formal gala on the evening of Thursday, July 18 at the 20th Annual Summer Institute. The awards recognize the outstanding accomplishments, passion and commitment of leaders in the field. The banquet offers an opportunity to dress to impress, walk the red carpet, and enjoy the short ceremony followed by dancing and celebration.
“Awardees represent the best professionals, advocates, and leaders Arizona has to offer,” commented Natasha Mendoza, Director of CABHP. “Working in the behavioral health field and allied disciplines, they have spent years working tirelessly to positively influence practice and policy. We all owe them a debt of gratitude for moving our state forward and serving as the state's role models for all behavioral health providers and invested policy makers.”
With the 20th anniversary of the conference, a new award is being introduced: The Peer Leadership Award.
“Our new Peer Leadership Award was created because at ASU we fully recognize that the best advocates are individuals who have, themselves, charted a successful path often challenged by barriers to quality care and services,” Mendoza said. “Peer professionals are the change agents who spark motivation and inspire lasting recovery across behavioral health and criminal justice settings. Their lived experience will continue to be a cornerstone for individuals seeking behavioral health,” she elaborated.
Carol understands the needs of peers as a constant and committed advocate for their needs. Never one to seek recognition nor the spotlight, she volunteered for several years to assist peers and family members while working behind the scenes on committees with the State Office of Individual and Family Affairs at AHCCCS, NAMI AZ and with the Peer and Family Coalition. Carol possesses an ability to get things done and allows others to move the system towards a place of power.
Compassion and creativity are hallmarks of the Tucson Police Department's (TPD) Mental Health Support Team (MHST) that has developed and grown under Sergeant Jason Winsky's leadership. Sgt. Winsky joined TPD fifteen years ago and was tapped to lead the department's Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) program. Sgt. Winsky, in collaboration with his Pima County Sheriff's Office counterparts, developed a regional training center of excellence serving Southern Arizona, including many rural departments, school and campus police, and federal agencies.
More recently, MHST has expanded its scope to include a focus on addiction. Via collaboration with community providers, individuals in need of substance use services are deflected away from the justice system. Peer co-responders engage with and connect them to treatment instead of jail. Today, the Tucson Police Department MHST team consists of two detectives, three sergeants, and twelve officers. It is an integral part of the Tucson behavioral health system and is increasingly being recognized as a national model. The MHST team would not be where it is today without Sgt. Winsky's leadership and his dedication to reduced justice involvement, improved safety, and compassionate customer service.
Senators Bowie (D, District 18) and Mesnard (R, District 17) worked in a bipartisan fashion to pass SB1468: Schools; Suicide Prevention Training.
Both senators saw a tremendous increase in suicides in their districts and were approached by parents of children who died as a result of suicide. The legislation requires schools (public and charter) to provide training in suicide awareness and prevention for school counselors, teachers, coaches, custodians, principals, and other school personnel who work with students in grades 6 to 12 beginning in the 2020-21 school year. $100,000 will be appropriated to AHCCCS for a suicide prevention coordinator to assist school districts and charter schools in suicide prevention efforts. Training options will be identified by AHCCCS, posted on their website, and required at least once every three years.
Arizona ranked 17th in the nation for deaths by suicide in 2017, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Arizona teenagers 15- to 17-years old made up 68% of suicide deaths, according to the Arizona Child Fatality Review Program Annual Report released Nov. 15, 2018.
“There are teachers and educators who want to help, they just don't know how, and this training will hopefully give them the tools they need to be helpful when a young person is having a difficult time," Bowie said.
Arizona Council of Human Service Providers Deputy Director Bahney Dedolph notes, “It is essentially unheard of in recent history that a Democrat and Republican would work together, testify in committee together, and pass a piece of bipartisan legislation together.”
The bill, also known as the Mitch Warnock Bill, passed on May 5, 2019 and was signed into law on May 8, 2019.
Markay Adams has been a driving force in the collaboration and partnership with Indian Health Service, Tribal and community partners to promote accessible behavioral health care to American Indian and Alaskan Natives in the State of Arizona. She facilitates meetings, conference calls, and site visits to bring various entities together to address crisis issues in rural communities.
She worked as a team member to address suicides across Arizona, greatly contributing to a reduction in deaths during suicide contagion incidents. Markay brought representatives from AHCCCS, various contractors, and community partners to the table to address these issues by organizing transportation resources, sharing information, advocating for accountability, and working toward balanced care. Her leadership has provided guidance to tribal communities through the AHCCCS Complete Care changes. She remains supportive to rural communities in their efforts to obtain care for their members.
“Markay provides the strongest level of support for behavioral health services on behalf of Native Americans from AHCCCS, from an individual, that has been seen in at least a decade,” says Derek Patton, Phoenix Area Indian Health Service Division Director Integrated Behavioral Health & Substance Abuse Consultant. “She is an advocate for people in need, and often goes against the grain of bureaucracy to assist others.”
If you don’t know Vicki Staples, you should.
“Vicki is one of the strongest, most caring, and passionate advocates for behavioral health services in Arizona. She is sincere, strong, and compassionate with an unrelenting belief that if it is the right thing to do, there has to be a way to accomplish it,” shares Kathy Dutridge of MIHS.
Vicki has 29 years of experience promoting recovery and wellness in persons struggling with behavioral health issues. She influenced policy changes within the Regional Behavioral Health Authority, Arizona Department of Health Services/Division of Behavioral Health Services, Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS), and added numerous behavioral health programs in her role as Director of Outpatient Behavioral Health Services at Maricopa Integrated Health System. She is responsible for the oversight of Integrated Behavioral Health Services at the Family Health Centers, the First Episode Center, Family Support and Education Programs, Assertive Community Treatment, and SMI Supportive Teams. Vicki was instrumental in forming a collaboration with AHCCCS and the Arizona Department of Corrections ensuring that inmates being released from prison can be seen by a physician and behavioral health clinician within 24-hours of release to assist in the re-entry process, improve whole health, reduce recidivism, and prevent poor health outcomes. Vicki also served as the Associate Director for Clinical Initiatives at the Arizona State University's Center for Applied Behavioral Health and on the Board of Directors as a Chairperson and Advisor for CHEEERS Recovery. She is an inspirational and motivating speaker who presents at NAMI meetings and advocacy events.
Vicki fully comprehends the need to treat the whole person and she never misses an opportunity to participate in the annual kickball tournament, encouraging well-rounded holistic programming to improve the mental health of our community.
Mary Jo Whitfield is on the Executive Leadership Team as the Vice President of Integrated Health at Jewish Family and Children Services. She has 40 years of experience in the behavioral health field, with 35 of those years spent in Maricopa County. Mary Jo has wide-ranging experience developing and implementing programs within Medicaid systems providing services to children and families, people with substance abuse disorders and people with serious mental illness.
Mary Jo also created the Maricopa County Peer and Family Mentoring program for Direct Care Clinics. Her other accomplishments include the Zero to Five Project and the Integrated Health Project. She also established the successful Youth in Transition to Adulthood Program for young adults between the ages of 16 and 21 who need help preparing for the future. The program helps with career planning, college enrollment, housing, daily living skills, finance management and behavioral health issues. Today the Maricopa County evidence-based program is one of the largest programs of its kind in the United States.
Mary Jo has worked in direct service at the provider level and for the Regional Behavioral Health Authority. She brings an enduring commitment and unswerving passion for programs that promote wellness, self-determination and the interdependence and/or independence of the service recipients and their families by connecting them with the communities where they reside.
“I realized that if you help one person, there’s a ripple effect that makes a difference for many,” Whitfield told The Glendale Daily Star in an interview. “A lot of people in this country have mental health and substance abuse issues. They just need a helping hand to break the cycle. The struggle is real. In public health, we work with people that others don’t want to take care of but we know that if we don’t help, who will?”