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Ask the Expert

Each month (April - September) Recovery Month features an expert in Ask the Expert, where you can get answers to your questions about the topics covered in the latest 2013 Road to Recovery program. Submit your questions using our anonymous online contact us system, and answers from our expert will be posted by the end of the month. 



Year: 2015   2014   2013   2012   2011   2010   2009

Month: April May June July August September

  • April: April Ask the Expert

    (Premiered: 04/01/2013)
    Arthur Evans

    Ask the Expert: 

    Arthur C. Evans Jr, Ph.D. is the Commissioner of Philadelphia’s Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services (DBHIDS), a $1 billion healthcare agency.  In this capacity, he is leading a major initiative to transform how behavioral health care and intellectual disability services are delivered in the city.  Since Dr. Evans’ appointment in November 2004, Philadelphia has begun a transformation of its system to one that focuses on recovery for adults, resilience for children and self-determination for all people with intellectual disabilities.
    Dr. Evans is a clinical and community psychologist.  He holds a faculty appointment at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.  He has also held faculty appointments at the Yale University School of Medicine and Quinnipiac University.  Dr. Evans has extensive experience in transforming systems of care while serving in several national leadership roles.
    Prior to coming to Philadelphia, Dr. Evans was the Deputy Commissioner for the Connecticut Department of Mental Health & Addiction Services (DMHAS).  In this capacity, he led several major strategic initiatives for the Connecticut behavioral healthcare system.  He was instrumental in implementing a recovery-oriented policy framework, addressing health care disparities and increasing the use of evidence-based practices.  

    Dr. Evans has served or is currently serving in several national leadership roles that include: Chair of Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Partners for Recovery Initiative Steering Committee, Co-Chair of National Action Group on Fostering System Reform for Adults with Serious Mental Illness, and Member of the Federal Center for Substance Abuse Treatment Advisory Committee, Chair of the National Advisory Committee for the Robert Wood Johnson’s Path To Recovery Project; President of the Board of Directors of the New England Institute of Addiction Studies Inc. (NEIAS).

    Dr. Evans is highly committed to serving people who are underserved and ensuring that all people have access to effective, quality services.

    Continued progress in meeting the challenges associated with behavioral health problems in our nation depends largely on building public awareness and community support. Increased public awareness on the costs and consequences of untreated mental and substance use disorders will likely result in higher levels of community support for prevention, treatment, and recovery initiatives. What are the most effective ways for those involved in the behavioral health field to reach out to their communities to build awareness and support? What are the best ways to connect with community leaders who can influence others in this endeavor? This show will examine a variety of strategies and messages for building public awareness and community support, including how the direction of health reform and the integration of behavioral health care into the primary health care setting present opportunities for progress and also challenges.

  • May: May Ask the Expert

    (Premiered: 05/01/2013)
    Markus Heilig

    Ask the Expert: 

    Markus Heilig, M.D., Ph.D. is a clinical psychiatrist and neuroscientist who is currently working at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) as Chief of the Laboratory of Clinical and Translational Studies and as a Clinical Director. He also serves as a Foreign Adjunct Professor in the Department of Clinical Neuroscience at Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden. Prior to joining the NIAAA, Dr. Heilig was Chief of Research and Development in the Division of Psychiatry at the Huddinge University Hospital of the Karolinska Institute and a Director at the Addiction Centre South in Stockholm, Sweden. Dr. Heilig has co-authored over 100 published original articles related to addiction and he served as chair of a taskforce established by the Swedish National Board of Health and Welfare to create national guidelines for the pharmacological treatment of heroin dependence. In addition, he has served in editorial positions for Addiction Biology (co-editor in chief), Biological Psychiatry (editorial board member), Addiction (assistant editor) and Neuropeptides (editorial board member), and he is a member or fellow of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology, the International Society on Biomedical Research on Alcoholism, the International Behavioral Neuroscience Society and the Society for Neuroscience.


    Research agendas at our National Institutes of Health produce exciting discoveries and developments for the behavioral health field. This show will highlight important findings emerging from the National Institutes of Health across the domains of prevention, treatment, and recovery and will explore the inter-relationships of mental and substance use disorders. Innovations based on this research are profoundly impacting the practice of behavioral health, the direction of health reform, and the advancement of health information technology. The show will address how, with the support of SAMHSA initiatives, these advancements are being promulgated by both governmental and nongovernmental practitioners in the field of behavioral health.

  • June: June Ask the Expert

    (Premiered: 06/01/2013)
    Pierluigi Mancini

    Ask the Expert: 

    Of Colombian and Italian descent, Dr. Mancini has been helping people in Georgia recover from mental illness and addiction since 1985. With degrees in psychology and business, and personal experience as a person in long term recovery from addiction, Dr. Mancini has directed his energies to helping the Latino community since 1999. Through his work, he helps the Latino community understand and seek help for mental illness and addiction through prevention and education programs, and direct counseling services.

    Dr. Mancini serves as a Board member on the Grady Memorial Hospital Corporation, and the Healthcare Georgia Foundation’s Board of Directors. He is the President of the Board of the National Latino Behavioral Health Association, and serves as Chairman Emeritus of the State of Georgia Mental Health Planning and Advisory Council.

    Dr. Mancini has been honored with the  2010 Georgia Kidsnet Academy III SOC – Individual Partner Award; the 2009 Hispanic Health Coalition Salud Hispana Award; the 2008 NAACP Gwinnett – Health Services Award; the  2008 – Catalyst for Care – Outstanding Leadership Award and the  2007- Mental Health America “Heroes in the Fight”  Award.

    A frequent guest of CNN en Español, Dr. Mancini is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of CETPA, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing affordable, linguistic and culturally appropriate behavioral health services to the Latino community in Georgia. CETPA is the only Latino behavioral health agency in Georgia to earn state licensing and national accreditation to provide integrated services in English and in Spanish.

    Dr. Mancini is also the President of the Multicultural Development Institute, Inc., an organization dedicated to bridging the gap between cultures, affecting access and delivery of services through education and training.

    There is a strong consensus that prevention and early intervention for mental and substance use disorders is a highly effective public health strategy. Are we reaching young people with effective prevention messages? For young people and adults who show signs of having a mental or substance use disorder, are we able to intervene effectively and prevent a major problem from developing? What role can family and friends play in prevention and early intervention for mental and substance use disorders? One of the more promising developments in this field is the emergence of defined screening techniques to detect problems. When integrated into primary health care systems, school settings, and community-based programs, screening can lead to early interventions that can help individuals before problems arise. This show will examine the use of screening techniques in behavioral health care and point to the positive elements of screening, prevention practices, and intervention in the context of health reform.

  • July: July Ask the Expert

    (Premiered: 07/01/2013)

    Ask the Expert: 

    Paolo del Vecchio, MSW, is the Director of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)’s Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS).  SAMHSA is the lead Federal agency designed to reduce the impact of substance abuse and mental illness on America’s communities.

    Previously, Paolo was the CMHS Associate Director for Consumer Affairs where he managed SAMHSA’s precedent-setting activities in addressing consumer participation and education, issues of discrimination and stigma, consumer rights, wellness, recovery, trauma, and others.

    Paolo was the first Consumer Affairs Specialist hired in 1995 by SAMHSA.   In this capacity, he promoted consumer participation in all aspects of the Center's policies and operations ranging from public education to developing evidence based practices to address the needs of persons with mental illnesses. Those efforts included initiating historic dialogue meetings between consumers/peers and practitioners, regional peer meetings, social inclusion efforts, training programs, and grant development.

    Prior to joining SAMHSA, Paolo worked for the Philadelphia Office of Mental Health in the areas of policy formulation and the planning of a comprehensive system of community-based mental health services addressing homelessness, HIV/AIDS, and many other issues.

    A self-identified mental health consumer, trauma survivor, and person in recovery from addictions, Paolo has been involved for over 40 years in behavioral health as a consumer, family member, provider, advocate, and policy maker. He graduated summa cum laude with a master’s degree in social work from Temple University, has published widely and is a highly sought after national and international speaker.  Paolo has been a leader in many Federal efforts including the Mental Health Statistics Improvement Project Ad-Hoc Advisory Committee, the Federal Advisory Planning Board for the Surgeon General's Report on Mental Health, the HHS Multiple Chronic Conditions and Community Living Initiatives, and numerous others.

    The process of recovery applies not only for the person with a mental and/or substance use disorder but for all family members as well. A mental and/or substance use disorder in one or both parents can traumatize children, which often has a lasting impact and can lead to multigenerational behavioral health problems. Similarly, a mental and/or substance use disorder in a child has a strong impact on siblings and parents. More and more, the field of behavioral health is recognizing the importance of engaging the entire family in treatment and recovery. This show will demonstrate the positive results gained from taking a whole family approach in treatment and recovery, one in which all family members are engaged and supported in the healing process. Also, family issues in certain settings such as military families and nontraditional families will be explored.

  • August: August Ask the Expert

    (Premiered: 08/01/2013)
    Alison Malmon

    Ask the Expert: 

    Alison Malmon is the founder and Executive Director of Active Minds, Inc., the leading national organization that uses students as the driving force to change the perception about mental health on college campuses.  Alison formed the organization following the suicide of her only sibling, twenty-two year old brother Brian Malmon. Wanting to combat the stigma that had caused her brother to suffer in silence and ultimately take his own life, she created a group on her campus at the University of Pennsylvania that promoted an open, enlightened dialogue around the issues. Just after graduating Phi Beta Kappa with honors in Psychology and Sociology in 2003, Alison formed the 501(c)3 organization in order to develop and support chapters of the student group on campuses around the country. From that moment forward, she has served as Executive Director of the non-profit, leading the organization as it engages thousands of student leaders nationwide through more than four hundred campus-based chapters.

    For her efforts, Alison has been named a "Top 15 Global Emerging Social Innovator" by Ashoka Changemakers and American Express, Washingtonian of the Year (2007) by Washingtonian Magazine, Citizen of the Year (2008) by the Potomac, Maryland Rotary Club, and a Woman of Distinction by the American Association of University Women.  She has also received the Destigmatization Award from the National Council, Tipper Gore Remember the Children Award from Mental Health America, Young Leadership Award from the National Mental Health Research Association (NARSAD), and was named the first-ever Montgomery County Public Schools (MD) Distinctive Alumnus. Alison has been profiled as a "Person you Should Know" on CNN, and in stories in the New York Times, Washington Post, Glamour Magazine, and ABC's Good Morning America, among others.

    In addition to her work at Active Minds, Alison sits on the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Consumer/Survivor Subcommittee, Suicide Prevention Resource Center Steering Committee, Bringing Theory to Practice Project Planning Committee, and Students of AMF Board of Directors.  In her spare time, Alison enjoys teaching the flying trapeze at the Trapeze School in Washington, DC - and thinks everyone should "fly" at least once in his or her lifetime!

    Young adults increasingly are joining the ranks of people in recovery. The needs of young adults (ages 18–25), an age group sometimes called “the Millennial Generation,” differ from the needs of older and younger generational groups. This show will focus on the particular needs and preferences of young adults as they engage in treatment for mental and substance use disorders and follow their journey of recovery. Effective strategies for preventing young adults from initiating substance use, escalating their substance use, or developing mental disorders will also be explored. Young adults have been raised in an era in which the Internet provides vast quantities of information with rapid access to this information facilitated by mobile technologies. Also, these lifestyle factors—which have strong implications for prevention strategies, treatment approaches, and recovery systems for this age group—will be examined.

  • September: September Ask the Expert

    (Premiered: 09/01/2013)
    Leah Harris

    Ask the Expert: 

    Leah Harris is a mother, activist, writer, and a person with a psychiatric history. She is also the daughter of two parents who were diagnosed with severe mental illness, both of whom died very young as a result of their disabilities. This depth of personal experience fuels Leah’s unstoppable commitment to ensuring human rights and a meaningful life in the community for people experiencing emotional distress and extreme states. Leah has been a nationally recognized leader in the consumer/survivor movement for over a decade. She has written and spoken widely about her own experiences of trauma and healing, and as a family member of people diagnosed with mental health issues. She is currently communications and development coordinator at the National Empowerment Center, consults on trauma-informed practice for the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors (NASMHPD), and on suicide prevention with the Center for Dignity, Recovery, and Stigma Elimination. She is also technical director of Madness Radio, a monthly podcast featuring new and innovative perspectives on mental health. Leah lives in Arlington, VA with her 7 year-old son.

    Peer recovery support in behavioral health is a powerful and essential component of the recovery process. More recently, however, the recognition of the importance of peer support has led to more structured and intentional applications of this recovery support approach. For example, many peer “recovery support specialists” and “recovery coaches” have received training on the most effective ways to help peers in recovery. Use of trained individuals along with other strategies for providing peer support is found in both mental health and substance use settings. Peer support is especially effective within certain groups such as military service members and veterans, young adults, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender populations. In some applications, online technologies are used to facilitate peer support processes. This show will also address the use of peer support in recovery community centers and recovery living settings.

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