Aspen Fellow: Shannon Jaccard in Inaugural Health Innovators Class

shannon jaccardFrom success to significance. The Aspen Global Leadership Network was launched with the Henry Crown Fellowship Program in 1997, designed to mentor the next generation of community-spirited leaders to make a greater mark.

The network is comprised of more than 2,100 fellows, who were chosen because of a track record of success, their entrepreneurial mindset, their focus on integrity and high-impact and their willingness to engage in a lifelong partnership with other leaders. Candidates must be between the ages of 35 and 48, and at a career inflection point, ready to consider their next level of contribution. 

Aspen fellows include top leaders of Fortune 500 companies, including in 2015 the President of #27, Boeing, and a General Manager of #8, General Electric. However, the goal is a rich mosaic that includes different sectors and backgrounds. For example, the 2014 class included Grammy-award winning rapper and record producer Lupe Fiasco (his stage name).

In July, the Aspen Institute introduced its first health innovators class, and selected 20 leaders, including National Alliance on Mental Illness San Diego’s CEO Shannon Jaccard. Members of the inaugural class also include Johnson and Johnson’s VP of Global Health Policy and the Department of Homeland Security’s Senior Medical Advisor. There are 11 MD’s in the group, and other sectors represented include pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, health care venture capital, and veterans’ health.

Over the next two years Shannon will participate in over a month of focused teamwork on leadership development, core values and action planning. Each fellow develops a stretch plan that includes a proposal for a community initiative that will create a lasting legacy. The Aspen Institute fully intends to impact the US healthcare ecosystem through the efforts of these accomplished leaders.

Shannon recently described to me the energizing and fast-paced first week experience, with 15 hour work days (7 am to 10 pm). Cell phones are left at the entrance, and the visioning begins immediately. Moderated leadership discussions catapult ideas from pre-homework readings, including The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas and Martin Luther King’s Letters from a Birmingham Jail.

The focus is on action. What do you need? And, the global network of leaders will help you. We can make it happen!

Shannon already has a resume of significant accomplishment and vision for the future. NAMI San Diego’s innovative programming and tech café have been nationally recognized. In addition to her CEO role and serving on the boards of directors for both RI International and Meeting Place Clubhouse, Shannon founded Compeer San Diego, a nonprofit organization to provide friendship and support to individuals with a mental illness.

With both an MBA and an intensely personal commitment to advocacy for persons with mental illness, it will be exciting to learn what develops next from the inspiration, connections and support the Aspen Health Innovators Fellowship offers. Stay tuned. I’m confident the world will be a better place because of these leaders’ deliberate efforts and impact.

About NAMI San Diego:  An affiliate of NAMI California and the national grass roots, non-profit founded in 1979 by family members, NAMI San Diego is the community’s voice on mental illness. Its threefold mission is to support, educate and advocate. They offer a Helpline, support groups, educational meetings, newsletters, a lending library and classes at various locations throughout the county to end the stigma associated with mental illness.

Coming Out Day! Courtyard Exhibit in Phoenix

2015-12-15_8-59-31Dese’Rae Stage describes Live Through This as a collection of portraits and stories of suicide attempt survivors, as told by those survivors.

“The history of the movement shows the true power our stories have to change hearts and minds. Coming out to family, friends and coworkers has caused the opposition to equality to fall away. As more and more people continue to speak their truth, we’re inching closer to a day where no person ever feels compelled to hide who they are out of fear.”

Actually, this 2015 quote from the Human Rights Campaign referred to National Coming Out Day and the LGBT civil rights movement. But, it could have just as easily been applied to the pioneering efforts of Dese’Rae Stage, Cara Anna, Heidi Bryan and the many others, who like Harvey Milk, have spoken out and encouraged others to do the same.

2015-12-15_9-02-55On Thursday night, December 10, RI International hosted a different kind of Coming Out Day with a twilight courtyard exhibit featuring Dese’Rae’s award-winning collection of portraits. In addition, the event featured Philadelphia’s Behavioral Health Commissioner Dr. Arthur C. Evans, whose recovery oriented approach is transforming the City’s service system.

Dr. Evans began with a brief YouTube video on the City of Philadelphia Porch Light Mural Arts Program, and asked, “what does healing look like?” The answer. A space and place to share… that is created together, as a community.

The Philly experiment is big and bold. The Virtual Tour website showcases 20 murals that have been created around the city in partnership with behavioral health clinics and people receiving services. In just one of those examples, over 1,000 community members put paint to the wall with the three story, 100+ foot long “Finding the Light Within” mural at 120 South 30th Street.

2015-12-15_9-04-26Working closely with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the Crisis Response Team of Philadelphia and many other local advocacy groups, muralist James Burns set out to shed light on suicide by providing an opportunity for relationship building among those bereaved by suicide, those with a history of attempts and their families and friends. The result is visually stunning and filled with rich and amazing detail.

Dr. Evans’ presentation inspired us that art can light the way to hope, resilience and a connection to each other.

Next, Dese’Rae shared her own painful story of depression, loss and suicidal thoughts. “But, I’m not a special little snowflake,” she followed, and pointed us to the amazing collection of photographs that encircled us. These included friends and leaders like Leah Harris and Dr. Bart Andrews, the latter of which came out of the closet about suicide just last year.

2015-12-15_9-07-58We’re afraid of death. We’re afraid of suicide. We’re afraid of those people. But, Dese’Rae reminds us that individuals who have survived suicide attempts look just like us. “These feelings could affect your mom, your partner, or your brother, and the fear of talking about it can be a killer.”

“Historically, people have spoken about their experience only under condition of anonymity in order to save them from being discriminated against. The silence and shame this creates are dangerous, and individuals are encouraged to own their experiences publicly, using their full name and likeness, and stripping the issue of anonymity and raising awareness by talking about it. It’s been a taboo too long.”

This quote in fact came from Dese’Rae’s Live Through This website. But, it could have just as easily been used on National Coming Out Day. It’s time to tackle the last stigma.

Notes: More on RI’s special guests Dese’Rae Stage and Dr. Arthur Evans, both of whom reside in Philadelphia

The Live Through This project has been covered by the New York TimesAssociated PressUpworthyNPR, the Glenn Beck Program as well several other radio and TV programs.  In 2015, Dese’Rae won the inaugural Paul G. Quinnett Lived Experience Writing Contest and was named New Yorker of the Week by NY1 News.

In 2015, Dr. Arthur C. Evans was recognized by the White House as an “Advocate for Action” by the Office of National Drug Control Policy. In 2013, he received the American Medical Association’s top government service award in health care, the Dr. Nathan Davis Award for Outstanding Government Service. Dr. Evans is also regarded as a strong advocate for people experiencing behavioral health conditions and was recognized by Faces and Voices of Recovery with the Lisa Mojer-Torres Award.

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#MentalHealthHackathon: The White House Hosts Suicide Prevention Data Jam

suicide prevention hackathonOn Saturday, December 12, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) convened data scientists, engineers, designers and subject matter experts in Boston, Washington, New York, Chicago and San Francisco to hack mental health.

These integrated jams in five cities were a follow-up to the Partnerships for Suicide Prevention data summit, hosted by the Obama Administration on October 9, as part of Global Mental Health Day for Suicide Prevention. 

The mission of these events: leverage data and technology to strengthen mental health and suicide prevention efforts.

Behavioral Health Link’s CEO Wendy Schneider and Chief Innovations Officer Mark Livingston participated in the Washington event which was held at Impact Hub DC, and shared their experience with me.

hacakthon participantsWendy described the palpable energy as the first ever US Chief Data Scientist Dr. DJ Patil welcomed the group. “Data science is a team sport, and we all have to do this together,” he began. His keynote address was an inspiring start.

Kristen Honey, OSTP Policy Advisor instantly connected everyone in the room, regardless of technology background: “A story is data with a soul.”

The stir to action was commitment to our responsibilities as citizens and stepping both feet down on the challenge of suicide. “Citizenship is a verb,” challenged Beth Flores, Managing Director for Impact Hub DC.

welcome to hacakathonThe themes that emerged during the brainstorming and sharing: more access, open data and #hackredtape. Susannah Fox, Chief Technology Officer for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, described the goal as “the default for government data AND mental health conversations should be open.”

This is transformed government. Dr. Patil encouraged the group that “the best ideas for policy come from outside the building.” Anticipatory. Collaborative. Outcomes focused. Transparent.

Mark and Wendy were able to share the technology innovations and decade-long data stream created by the bhlweb system with the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities. Since 2006, the “air traffic control” technology integration of the Crisis and Access Line has dramatically reduced wait times for intensive services and reduced reliance upon costly and intrusive acute care services.

There was a lot of buzz about the cutting-edge Georgia approach to care coordination (see it in action here), but what jazzed Wendy and Mark was the spirit and dialogue of this diverse group and the juxtaposition of suicide prevention experts and policy makers alongside data scientists and entrepreneurs. Just striking.

The BHL leaders returned to Atlanta inspired that we mental health leaders should take more risks, be more agile, cross-pollinate much more frequently and spark more movements focused on making change happen… today.

Note: President Obama declared World Suicide Prevention Day on September 10, 2015.

“Suicide prevention is the responsibility of all people… If you are hurting, know this: You are not forgotten. You are never alone. Your country is here for you, and help is available… As one people, we stand with all who struggle with mental illness, and we continue our work to prevent this heartbreak in our communities.”

– President Barack Obama, World Suicide Prevention Day 2015


Blowing the Curve: Carolinas HealthCare Capitalizes on Behavioral Health

2015-12-05_22-16-43Remember that one brilliant student in school that always got the maximum score on the test… thereby blowing the curve for everyone else. This past week I traveled to Charlotte to speak at an event sponsored by Carolinas HealthCare, and Carolinas is that student when it comes to behavioral health.

I spoke alongside Carolinas’  Dr. John Santopietro at a HEALTHWORKS event attended by over a hundred employer leaders. Dr. Santopietro is a nationally prominent healthcare leader educated at Harvard Medical School and Yale and recently quoted in the Washington Post on healthcare reform and parity. HEALTHWORKS is a division of Carolinas HealthCare, which is one of the largest non-profit organizations in the United States with 40 hospitals, 900 care locations, 60,000 employees and nearly $9 billion in revenues.

After the morning event, I had the opportunity to visit and tour The Mindy Ellen Levine Behavioral Health Center in Davidson and learn more about Carolinas HealthCare. During the short 30 minute drive north of Charlotte, Dr. Santopietro related the history and described the “clinical soul” that Carolinas has infused into their culture and programming. My anticipation built as I imagined what this would look like capitalized.

In 2012, Carolinas launched a behavioral health service line, and hired Dr. Santopietro as Chief Clinical Officer and Martha Whitecotton as Senior Vice President. Their decision to go all in was driven by several factors.

  • The shift of hospital systems from Curve 1 (fee-for-service) to Curve 2 (value payment/population health) is accelerating (more here), and a mental health diagnosis, like depression, can increase the cost of care by 60 to 70 percent.
  • The impact of people waiting in their Emergency Departments for days because of mental health and addiction challenges. Carolinas’ baseline average delay was 40 hours, and they believed they could improve the experience and performance by investing in behavioral healthcare.
  • Carolinas already possessed key behavioral health infrastructure through a no-cost contract with Mecklenburg County. They had not previously integrated these programs into their larger enterprise or invested materially in their advancement, but they had experience with physical health integration, telepsychiatry and bed placement systems.

2015-12-06_9-35-26The speed with which Carolinas has created a world-class system is dizzying. As we left the main road towards their Davidson facility, I assumed we had taken a wrong turn. Nestled in a perfect rural setting surrounded by woods, the facility looks more like a resort.

“Does this feel like you are in a psychiatric hospital?” asked Dr. Thomas Gettelman, Vice President & Facility Executive, as we toured the 66 bed, three unit program. He was right; I’ve never seen anything like the thoughtful attention to detail that this program has at every step.

2015-12-06_9-53-22The covered sally port for drop off has a wonderful mural on the inside wall that transforms an area that would otherwise feel imposing. Dr. Gettleman talked about their intention to create a facility characterized by safety and privacy while being richly trauma informed. After I asked to photograph an amazing granite rock surrounded by trees just outside the window and adjacent to the cafeteria, Dr. Gettelman asked another staff member to assist, as it required two employee pass cards to exit. It dawned on me that the combination of approaches would yield a different set of outcomes related to AWOL challenges:

  • They have not experienced a single elopement from the facility
  • What’s more, the readmission rate is less than half that of comparable facilities
  • And, 21% of discharges occur on the weekend as a result of a seven on/seven off scheduling pattern for psychiatrists and clinicians (see write-up quoting Medical Director Dr. Cheryl Dodds here)

While most individuals convert to a voluntary status for the services at Carolinas’ Davidson center, a collaborative approach with the Chief Judge, public defender’s office and the county magistrate resulted in tele-court for those individuals on involuntary commitment (IVC).

2015-12-06_10-13-20A family practitioner provides integrated medical coverage during day-time hours. Clinicians are trained in CBT and DBT with a strong focus on recovery. And, Peer Specialists on each of the programs units have replaced some of the traditional technician roles to provide coaching, peer supports and post-discharge navigation (see Carolina’s Peer Support Specialist Joe Swafford’s YouTube presentation on hope and recovery). The design has been nursing and physician driven with a strong focus on the Patient and Family Advisory Council, and the results show!

In addition to the Davidson center, Carolinas operates:

  • 24/7 crisis triage call center in Mint Hill that manages approximately 250,000 calls per year and operates a bed patient placement system
  • Expanded telepsychiatry program credited with a 50% reduction in ED wait times
  • Integrated virtual mental health care at primary care sites (see Washington Post article)
  • Another behavioral health campus in Charlotte with inpatient, crisis stabilization, partial hospitalization, Assertive Community Treatment, and medication clinics

2015-12-06_10-41-02Dr. Gettelman spoke with pride about how hospitals become part of the soul and essence of a community, and in this case it is a behavioral health hospital in Davidson. It seems that top leadership at Carolinas HealthCare feel that way, too. Their 2015 Impact Report prominently highlights their innovative approach to behavioral health. In fact, it’s first before key sections on ICUs and cancer care.

Carolinas is truly blowing the curve, and they are doing it with a combination of strong investment, medical and clinical expertise and heart that will be changing the way behavioral health is delivered for decades to come.



Dr. John Santopietro, Chief Clinical Officer for Behavioral Health at Carolinas HealthCare


Peer Support Staff Anthony Cutler, Clinical Director Joanne Sobolewski and Vice President & Facility Executive Dr. Thomas Gettelman


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