RI CEO and President David Covington featured on New Zealand Zero Suicide News Program

David Covington interviewed by Ryan Bridge about Zero Suicides goal

Is suicide preventable? Or is it inevitable? If somebody’s suffering reaches a no-turning back stage, can they be turned back?

Ryan Bridge speaks to world-renowned Suicide expert David Covington,  who founded the Zero Suicide initiative.

Listen to the interview here:

http://www.radiolive.co.nz/home/audio/2017/07/aiming-for-a-goal-of-zero-suicides.html

Opioid Crisis Hits Wilmington Area Hard; Lack of Public Resources Hinders Response

This is an abridged version of the original article. Click here to read the full article.

North Carolina’s place in the national opioid crisis is nothing new here – and the news that Wilmington is the top city in the nation for opioid abuse doesn’t surprise people.

These days, from well-to-do Market Street lined with live elms to the dilapidated and garbage strewn Houston Moore and Hillcrest housing projects, addiction is uniting the city. Acknowledging that has been a long time coming.

Joe Stanley Wellness City

Joe Stanley has been clean for 13 years and now helps others at Wellness City. (Photo: Joe Killian)

“There’s been a bad drug problem here for a lot of years,” says Joe Stanley. “But people are just beginning to really pay attention to it because you’re seeing that other demographic affected – middle class white people, rich people, people who are into prescribed pills and don’t start out with heroin. Now they’re seeing it can happen to anybody. Addiction can come for anyone.”

Stanley knows. He’s been clean for 13 years and now works as a peer support specialist, helping other addicts at the Wellness City recovery center on South 17th Street. But he spent decades abusing drugs – mostly crack – in Wilmington.

Most people working with addicts here agree – when the bodies were mostly black and being found in flop houses or behind gas stations, there was a lot less attention to the epidemic. But in the decade between 2005 and 2015 opioid-related deaths jumped from 26 to 45 in New Hanover County. That’s nearly as many as in Guilford County, whose population is more than twice as large.

But New Hanover County is 81 percent white. Its median income is just over $50,000 a year – higher than much larger Guilford. So not all of those struggling with and dying from addiction are, as so many people here say carefully, “who you’d think.”

Kris Ludacher, director of the Wellness City.

Kris Ludacher, director of the Wellness City. (Photo: Joe Killian)

Kris Ludacher is the director of the Wellness City – a no-cost, peer-support recovery operation that opened just last year. The group held 125 sessions – they don’t like to call them “classes” – last month for people struggling with addiction, mental health problems and both.

But before he was running the Wellness City, he spent eight years with a mobile crisis unit here. Even eight years ago about two-thirds of the calls were for substance abuse – and the number of opioid overdose calls were on the climb. Ludacher said he noticed a related trend.

“It used to be that you’d get an overdose call and it would be in a Chick-fil-A bathroom,” Ludacher said. “But then you started getting those calls and they were at half-million dollar yachts.”

Government services in New Hanover County are doing their best to combat the epidemic – but the need is great and the resources sorely lacking.

The county recently produced a series of public service announcement videos on various angles of the epidemic. But the piece of the story that is often overlooked is the impact on the families and children of those struggling with addiction here.

Mary Beth Rubright is Child Protective Services Chief with the Department of Social Services in New Hanover County. Her department has been hit hard by the opioid epidemic here, experiencing a 93 percent increase in the number of children who need foster homes in the four-year period between 2012 and 2016.

Add to that the sharp spike in child deaths related to opioid addicted parents –  in car crashes, parents who roll over on children who sleep with them, severe neglect and suicide.

“The numbers are scary,” Rubright said.

There are now nearly 500 children in foster care in New Hanover, a number approaching that of some of the state’s largest counties.

Medicaid expansion would be a godsend to some people trying to get on and stay on a real recovery path, Davis said. That’s a call many lawmakers in Raleigh have been sounding for years, but the GOP majority is not yet on board.

In the meantime, those on the ground agree a serious commitment of resources to combat the epidemic is needed.

Wanda Marino, assistant director for Social Work Services in New Hanover, said the first step is acknowledging the problem – something New Hanover is doing, but many communities are not.

“And we need more resources, more staff who receive substance abuse training, more resources to hold on to good staff so that we aren’t having to replace them and they aren’t chasing their tails,” Marino said. “We have a great staff here. They work hard and they are trained. But we just need more of them. I think that’s the case in a lot of places.”

Read the Full Article Here

Trillium Aims To Provide Health Services

Kris Ludacer Wilmington Program Director

Kris Ludacer is program director of Wilmington Wellness City, a partnership between Trillium Health Resources and RI International that is fully funded by Trillium and housed at 1960 S. 17th St. (Photo by Chris Brehmer)

Wilmington Wellness City, a partnership between Trillium and RI International that is fully funded by Trillium, celebrated a grand opening in January at 1960 S. 17th St. in Wilmington, a much larger location from the previous one-room space the program operated out of at The Harrelson Center downtown.

Getting more people who are recovering from addiction or mental illnesses to use the service means getting the word out about Wilmington’s location, said Kris Ludacer, program director of Wilmington Wellness City.

That also means “having people stop by to see the facility and just kind of take a tour. One of the things I think people aren’t realizing is we don’t infringe on anyone else’s services. We are an additional support, and we’re free to anybody over the age of 18. It doesn’t matter what insurance you have; it doesn’t matter what level of service you’re getting from another provider,” Ludacer said.

Potential funding cuts from the state could affect Wellness City locations, including in Wilmington, New Bern and Greenville, officials said.

Ludacer said one of the main impacts could be an overflow of people who need the free help because they can’t pay for other sources, although he said the Wilmington Wellness City would try to accommodate everyone.

Read the Full Article Here

Ribbon Cutting Held for Riverside, CA Mental Health Urgent Care

Riverside, CA Mental Health Urgent Care Grand Opening

RIVERSIDE, CALIFORNIA, U.S., April 28, 2017 /EINPresswire.com/ — RI International CEO and President David Covington announced today that the ribbon cutting for the Mental Health Urgent Care located at 9890 County Farm Road in Riverside, CA, will be held on May 3rd at 10 am.
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“We are grateful to the Riverside Board of Supervisors, the Riverside University System -Behavioral Health and the Riverside County Economic Development Agency for making this beautiful mental health facility possible. RI International’s aim is to ensure that every crisis facility we manage is inviting — resembling an upscale home rather than an institution – and serves as a healing space. In this facility, staff and guests will not be separated by Plexiglas fish tank walls, and our engaging teams will focus on helping every person we serve return to a life of meaning and purpose in their communities.”

Read the full press release here.

David Covington Announced as the President-Elect for AAS Board

AAS Header

The results are in! We are pleased to announce the newly elected AAS Board Members as follows:

  • President-Elect: David Covington, MBA, LPC
  • Secretary: Jonathan Singer, PhD
  • Clinical Division Chair: Melinda Moore, PhD
  • Research Division Chair: Jie Zhang, PhD

Other recent members appointed to the AAS Executive Committee include Bart Andrews, PhD and April Foreman, PhD.

We extend our congratulations to the winners, and our appreciation to all candidates for their willingness to serve.

A special thanks to Past-President Bill Schmitz, PsyD and his committee for their time and effort.

Suicidology at 50

Elected Board Members will begin their duties at the 50th annual Conference in Phoenix, AZ. For more information, please click on the banner above.

New 24/7 Mental Health Urgent Care Funded by Riverside University Health Services Opening in Palm Springs Announced November 23rd

“Huge Opportunity to meet Community’s Overall Behavioral Healthcare Needs,” According to Riverside County Chief of Staff Michelle DeArmond

Left to right, RI International CEO, David Covington, Palm Springs Mayor, Robert Moon, Michelle DeArmond, Chief of Staff for Riverside Co. Board Supervisor John J. Benoit, Steve Steinberg, director of RUHS Behavioral Health.

Left to right, RI International CEO, David Covington, Palm Springs Mayor, Robert Moon, Michelle DeArmond, Chief of Staff for Riverside Co. Board Supervisor John J. Benoit, Steve Steinberg, director of RUHS Behavioral Health.

Palm Springs, CA, November 23, 2016 — County officials and Palm Springs Mayor Robert Moon today announced the grand opening of RI’s 24-hour mental health urgent care facility, in Palm Springs, California, located at 2500 N. Palm Canyon Dr.

“This is a huge opportunity for us to take one more piece of the overall behavioral health need, and give people access to these services for our community as a whole,” said Michelle DeArmond, Chief of Staff for Riverside Co. Board Supervisor John J. Benoit. DeArmond added that the facility provides more community services, in a more targeted and cost-effective way. “This is one opportunity where people who are in crisis, but don’t necessarily need to take up law enforcement time or use a hospital bed, can go in and receive support from people who are specialized in dealing specifically with mental health crisis.”

24-7 Mental Health Urgent Care Facility, located at 2500 N. Palm Canyon Drive, Suite A-4, Palm Springs, CA.

24-7 Mental Health Urgent Care Facility, located at 2500 N. Palm Canyon Drive, Suite A-4, Palm Springs, CA.

“Our goal is to provide timely support before a situation becomes so volatile that people are involuntarily held in hospital emergency rooms,” said Steve Steinberg, director of Riverside University Health System (RUHS) Behavioral Health. “We are providing an environment and a level of services that engage people in their recovery.”

“One of the reasons our crisis services are rapidly expanding is because we’ve developed what we call the living room approach,” said RI International CEO and President David Covington. “The Palm Springs facility is our fourth added this year, bringing our total to 14 crisis facilities in five states across the U.S.,” said Covington.  “We marry clinical excellence with peer support, and work to make our facilities feel more like a comfortable living room or resort, rather than an institution. Our staff is not separated from guests by Plexiglas. We do this to help lessen stigma and provide healing spaces, welcoming environments conducive to de-escalation and recovery,” added Covington.

The 24/7 Mental Health Urgent Care is for adults voluntarily seeking assistance.  Services include assessments, medication management and psychiatric support. During their stay, guests will participate in the development of individualized care plans that include recovery education, peer-to-peer support, mental health services, nutritional counseling and coordination and referral to community-based services.

The facility is funded by Riverside County through RUHS and operated by RI International.

ABOUT RI INTERNATIONAL: Headquartered in Phoenix, RI International is one of the nation’s leading crisis services mental health providers. Founded as a non-profit in 1990, the Company is in Delaware, Arizona, California, North Carolina, Washington State and New Zealand, has been accredited by Joint Commission since 1992 and has certified more than 7,000 peers around the world since 2000.

Yes, I can! What if We All Embraced Recovery?

disability rights are civil rights

In his 1965 “If I Ruled the World” album, Sammy Davis Jr. sang,

Yes, I can, suddenly

Yes, I can

Gee I’m afraid to go on, has turn into

Yes, I can

Wind me up then watch me fly

A regular sort of sunburned Superman I

Are you ready, I can climb Everest

Yes, I can

I can fight here all night and never rest

Yes I can

In fact, one of three lead members of the Rat Pack and so successful in the industry he was called Mr. Show Business, Sammy Davis, Jr. was nonetheless much more familiar with a jarring repetition of “No… you can’t.”

That’s a phrase that some in our society have heard much more frequently than others.

We tend to think of being held back only in terms of success, but it’s much more fundamental than that. Our American family has evolved to the sophistication that our lives are extraordinarily interdependent. Our daily lives depend on the contributions of millions of people, who provide the goods, services, infrastructure, government and joint defense we rely upon.

Humans find meaning and purpose in determining their niche and pitching in their own unique impact. And, when this is thwarted, we’re like ants with no role in the colony.

All of us have occasionally heard “No, you can’t.” We’re told we’re not smart enough. Not persistent enough. We don’t have the resources for the preparation. But, the message is shouted from society at people with serious mental illness over and over.

This past year a blogger wrote in the Huffington Post that it was time to discontinue the use of the word recovery for mental health. She suggested such a concept doesn’t exist for people with more serious challenges. Legislative reform efforts highlight recovery from addiction but decrease self direction for individuals with mental health challenges.

A top healthcare policy maker called for “Bring[ing] Back the Asylums,” and shared his belief that there are a million Americans currently living in communities who are in fact so permanently disabled with serious mental illness they should instead be confined to institutions.

Just three years ago, the CEO for one of America’s largest Community Mental Health Centers talked of hiring 200 peers, individuals with lived experience of serious mental health challenges, but explained that their roles would be limited to janitorial and administrative functions.

Repeated. No. You can’t.

It is time to change the narrative. It is time we all embraced recovery. Time for a different answer to three questions.

Question one. What if I don’t move to the back of the bus?

In 1955, a seamstress and activist in Montgomery, Alabama boarded a bus and sat in the first row behind the front section dedicated to white riders. When those seats were filled, she refused the order to move to the back of the bus.

Her protest was a powerful symbol in inspiring other African Americans and a catalyst of the civil rights movement, which would help pave the hard road to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, that outlawed discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.

Society stood up to the institutional barriers that prevented African Americans from full participation, with such key rights as electing public officials. In Selma, Alabama, African Americans were legally entitled to vote, except…

No, you can’t, without a sponsor who has previously voted.

No, you can’t, without passing the literacy test.

No, you can’t, without paying the voter’s fee.

After hearing these kinds of messages over and over and over, Rosa Parks refused to move to the back of the bus.

Question two. What would I do if I was not afraid?

What contribution would I make? If I didn’t fear looking foolish. Didn’t fear failing. Wasn’t concerned about not staying “in my place.”

Sheryl Sandberg, the Chief Operating Officer for Facebook, asked a group of Harvard MBA students to stand if they had previously considered leading their company, their industry, their field. It concerned her that too few female students did so. Equal or more intelligent, articulate, capable, but lacking the ambition of their male counterparts.

They too have heard messages. We have the highest number of female CEOs ever a recent article stated… at 5% compared with male CEOs at its lowest level… or 95%. No, you can’t.

But, Sheryl turned herself straight against the wind and wrote Lean In, inspiring women to support one another, and to consider the hopes and dreams of what they would accomplish… if they were not afraid.

Question three. What if my answer is… Yes, I can.

Recently, a group promoting the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games created the most bombastic, spectacularly positive and frame-breaking video of the year, We’re the Superhumans, which used as its theme song Sammy Davis Jr.’s Yes, I can.

It certainly wasn’t the first time that the disability community has borrowed from the African American struggle for civil rights. Last year marked the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Social services are no longer a matter of the charity of “do-gooders,” but the requirement of a civil right. Our constitution now demands an end to institutionalizing and/or segregating people with disabilities as the answer. And, it calls for an end to discrimination in hiring for competitive employment.

The first efforts to obtain dignity and equal opportunity for people with disabilities were much like our mental health promotion. Flyers and bumper stickers included the following:

  • Think Inclusively! School, Work, Play, Community, Life
  • Assume Competence
  • Label Jars… Not People
  • Not Being Able to Speak is Not the Same as Not Having Anything to Say
  • Celebrate Community
  • If you… Thought the… Wheel… Was a good idea… You’re going to love the ramp.
  • Don’t Think That We Don’t Think
  • Raging Against the Dying of the Light: Institutions Are Not the Solutions

The movement has been adamant about the power of language. “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but names will really hurt me.” I visited the remarkable Disability Empowerment Center in Phoenix recently and noticed that it has been powerfully renamed Ability 360.

Helen Keller emerged as a champion of the disability rights movement, determined to break the hold of discrimination, and the language of “childlike,” “dependent,” and “disabled.”

Yes, I can.

injustice is a threat to justice everywhereBut, society refused to yield. Material change just did not result from the most thoughtful and persuasive plea. And, so people with disabilities continued modeling the Civil Rights Movement. The iconic photo at right includes the Martin Luther King, Jr. quote on a banner, “Injustice Anywhere is a Threat to Justice Everywhere.”

In the 1980s, the activist national network ADAPT encouraged nonviolent civil disobedience to demand changes in policies that excluded people with disabilities from full community participation. They were strongly focused on public transportation, including handcuffing themselves to buses that were not accessible to people in wheelchairs. One of their flyers stated, “Power concedes nothing without a demand.”

Our Declaration of Independence set all these expectations in motion 240 years ago. “All men are created equal… with certain unalienable rights… whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it.”

It was the capitol crawl that finally pushed the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act across the finish line and the signing by President George H.W. Bush. After an interminable delay with the House of Representatives, at a large rally, 60 activists abandoned their wheel chairs to climb up the 83 stone steps to access the U.S. Capitol Building.

And, this brings us back to the most remarkable re-frame. “We’re the Superhumans” is a delicious, toe-tapping celebration of the indomitable human spirit and the power of “Yes, I can!” The Guardian described it:

“[Superhumans] shows exactly how much excitement you can generate if you cram the talent of 140 athletes, musicians and ordinary people with disabilities into three minutes of television. From a pilot steering a plane with her feet to a blind pianist, it’s a celebration of an extraordinary range of talent.”

I just cannot get singer Tony Dee’s version of Sammy Davis, Jr. out of my head or stop thinking about wheelchair stuntman Aaron Fotheringham’s death-defying flight. It’s “Yes, I can” sung in the shower at the top of your lungs.

African Americans. Females. People with disabilities. LGBT. Different differences. Same challenges.

How Does Any of this Relate to Mental Health?

But, the three questions. What if… I don’t move to the back of the bus? What if… I’m not afraid? What if… my answer is Yes, I can.

People with disabilities, like those in a wheelchair, Deaf, blind or with an intellectual and/or developmental disability, still have an unacceptably high unemployment rate. But put another way it’s clear they’ve had much more success than we’ve had in mental health. Nearly 40% of these individuals have competitive employment compared with about 15% for those with serious mental illness.

The strong focus of the disability community has been on the law, on their abilities, and on society’s obligation to provide the reasonable accommodations and supports for them to play meaningful roles, to fully contribute and connect in their families, neighborhoods, and larger communities.

But mental health is very different, right?

The ADA doesn’t apply to mental health, does it?

“We’re now on the cusp of expanding what we understand to be a disability to include those invisible disabilities, the ones we can’t necessarily accommodate with a curb cut.” These are the words of Representative Patrick Kennedy, a front runner in leadership characterized by sharing his own mental health lived experience.

If we weren’t crystal clear in 1990 that the ADA also applied to mental health, the Olmstead Supreme Court ruling eliminated any doubts. Actually, I’m going to start instead naming this watershed ruling for its plaintiff, the Lois Curtis decision, after her Georgia lawsuit that went to the highest court (Olmstead was the state health commissioner and defendant).

On June 22, 1999, the US Supreme Court held that unjustified segregation of persons with disabilities constitutes discrimination in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act and stated that people with psychiatric disabilities are legally entitled to live in communities of their choosing.

If you are a person with Schizophrenia, Bipolar Disorder, or Major Depression, a history of trauma or debilitating anxiety, a diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder, or other serious mental illness challenge, I’ve got three questions for you.

  • What if… I don’t move to the back of the bus? What if I reject society’s expectations of disability and dependency?
  • What if… I’m not afraid? What if I dare think of hopes and aspirations? What am I good at? How might I contribute?
  • What if… my answer is Yes, I can.

There will be challenges. Recovery doesn’t mean society suddenly accepted Sammy Davis, Jr. It doesn’t mean a Hillary Clinton presidency would dramatically change the proportion of female CEOs. It doesn’t mean a person in a wheelchair can suddenly walk.

It means we dream. And, we take actions to achieve our goals. We connect. We contribute. We participate fully in this incredible American family. We chart a course for others to gain courage and follow.

I am still moved by Representative Kennedy’s assertion that it’s time to end mental health promotion and shift our efforts to enforcing the law. “We stand on the doorstep to make momentous progress in advancing the cause of this new civil rights struggle started by the work of President Kennedy over 50 years ago.”

Yesterday, North Carolina-based Trillium Health Resources hosted a Recovery Summit in partnership with RI International (formerly Recovery Innovations). RI employs more than 500 peers, many of whom also have experience with addiction and/or homelessness in addition to mental health challenges.

They work as peer supports, wellness coaches, crisis navigators and make a difference in the lives of countless others.

And, today, I had the privilege to participate in a White House afternoon forum on Better Healthcare, which for the first time included a panel of peer leaders, and the discussion was about strengths and abilities instead of deficits and problems, and “lived expertise.”

It all depends on how we collectively answer the three questions. This is just another day, September 30 and the last day of recovery month. Or… it’s time everyone embrace recovery for mental health.

Something that sings in my blood

Is telling me

Yes, I can

#RecoveryNow

New Crisis Center Funded by Delaware Department of Substance Abuse and Mental Health (DSAMH) Opening Announced August 2ND

Delaware Governor Jack Markell said new facility part of state’s efforts to revolutionize Mental Health Services

Newark, DE, July 28, 2016 — Delaware Governor Jack Markell said the new Recovery Response Center (RRC) is the latest accomplishment in his state’s effort to build more robust mental health services. Markell will be joined by State Auditor, Tom Wagner, State Insurance Commissioner, Karen Weldin Stewart, DSAMH Director, Michael Barbieri, and additional elected officials from the region for the grand opening of the facility located at 659 East Chestnut Hill Road, Newark, Delaware, on Tuesday, August 2nd from 1 – 4 pm.

Ri Crisis' RRC

RI Crisis’ RRC, located at 659 East Chestnut Hill Road, Newark, DE.

“This new facility demonstrates the commitment we have made in Delaware to create a robust community-based mental health system,” Markell said. “Individuals experiencing a mental health or addiction crisis need immediate and appropriate evaluation and care. The Recovery Response Center in Newark provides that important first step in getting people in crisis the care they deserve.”

DSAMH Director Michael Barbieri said the crisis staff is broad-based and specifically trained. “Delaware residents in crisis will be met by trained clinicians and peers with lived experience. Under the medical leadership of onsite psychiatric providers, these staff will work quickly to help people rest and de-escalate and take the first steps towards recovery.”

RI International CEO David Covington said the Newark location is the Company’s second crisis center to be opened in the state of Delaware, with a similar program in Ellendale since 2012. “Our Delaware locations will serve thousands of individuals in psychiatric distress each year, with a Living Room model designed to maximize successful return to the community, and defer hundreds of unnecessary visits to hospital emergency departments.”

Steven R. Fasick added, “I’m proud to serve on the board of directors of RI International. There’s a great need for our crisis to recovery services in the Wilmington area, in Delaware, and across the U.S.”

Download Full Press Release (Right click and select Save As)

RI International employee introduces RISE program in addressing mental health and addiction treatment in Malibu, CA

RI International employee Gordon Durich, a Recovery Specialist with our RISE program in Oxnard, California was published in the February/March issue of the Malibu Chronicle, a publication with 100,000 local readers of the print publication, and world-wide online circulation. Gordon’s article includes a quote from RI International CEO David Covington, and features several mental health and addiction treatment centers in the Malibu area, including RI’s RISE program in which Gordon serves.  Click to read the article on MalibuChronicle.com.

RI International CEO & President delivers Zero Suicide message to Washington State’s Summit of Hope

Click to redirect to The Oregonian article:

Zero suicide? Summit of Hope aims to start dialogue about taboo subject

By Nuran Alteir, The Oregonian/Oregon Live

 

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