Since 1976, Thrive Behavioral Health has been inspiring hope and empowering the lives of Rhode Islanders. We invite you to read some of our more recent stories exemplifying the impact that our staff and services have had on the individuals we have served.
Bob Walker, Hillgrove Clubhouse Member and Member of Thrive Board of Directors
Story by John Howell, Editor, Warwick Beacon:
For a good portion of his time on Earth, from age 17 to 45, Bob says “I wasn’t well.” He was diagnosed with schizophrenia. Bob didn’t understand his illness. He had difficulty keeping a job, making friends and enjoying life. He discovered he had a low tolerance for foreign substances – he names marijuana – and loud noises.
He was in and out of hospitals and spent a year in the Institute of Mental Health, now named at the Eleanor Slater Hospital, where he was when his mother died from cancer. He wasn’t allowed out to even attend his mother’s funeral.
He was homeless for two years, living in a tent in the Snake Den State Park. He tried homeless shelters, but didn’t feel like he belonged there. Besides, he couldn’t tolerate the body lice.
That was hard to believe Friday morning when Thrive Behavioral Health hosted a breakfast at Hillsgrove House bringing together state legislators and Thrive board members. Bob was mingling with the legislators and later showed off his electric bike. Read more...
Three mothers of children who are clients of Thrive's Youth & Family Services Program share the impact that the Youth & Family Clinicians have made on their families, their children's development, and even themselves.
Amanda Caires, mother of 3 teenagers who are clients of Thrive
“The reason my daughter is doing as well as she is today is because of all the time and attention Deana gave to her. We may have had to medicate my daughter if it weren’t for Deana. Thrive’s therapists are so helpful, and they want to help. It’s not just a job to them. That’s what makes it [so impactful] for the kids. I haven’t encountered that anywhere else.”
Amanda’s children had been working with other doctors and counselors and were not happy with them. In a Google search online she learned about Thrive Behavioral Health. In November of 2019, just before the pandemic, her children came to Thrive.
"Deana Mills has been especially helpful as my 12 year old daughter, Morgan’s, clinician. Morgan has social, emotional and anxiety issues which became more severe with the onset of the pandemic in 2020-2021. Morgan was in 4th grade when the pandemic hit. She has struggled with school both academically and socially during her last couple of years of elementary school and then with the transition into 6th grade at middle school in the fall of 2021. Morgan was always a very social person and really struggled during the pandemic not being able to see people in person or to give her friends hugs. Distance learning was very challenging as well to navigate the computer and online assignments.
“Deana has always made herself available to help Morgan, no matter what time of day. During the pandemic Deana would even set aside the time to sit by Morgan next to the computer to help her navigate online and guide her through distance learning. With her help, Morgan was able to pass her classes. “
Krystyna Peasley, mother of 12 year old daughter, Isabella
“I have never seen such a connection between a client and therapist like that between Isabella and Deana, and I have been working in the behavioral health field with disabled adults for 16 years and have seen many client/therapist relationships."
In 2020, just before the pandemic started, Isabella’s mental health was declining and she was diagnosed with ADHD. She also had past trauma with her father who was inconsistent, which contributed to her anxiety. Isabella’s Primary Care Physician recommended her to Thrive. She started with Art Therapy on zoom and then switched to one-on-one counseling with Deanna Mills whom she continues to see now.
"Deana works on such a personal level and has built a foundation and trust with my daughter that I have not seen before. Deana is Isabella’s person to call. She has complete trust in her, which is just what Isabella needed. Their client/therapist relationship has even opened an avenue of communication between Isabella and me which has greatly helped our mother/daughter relationship. Deana helps me too – I feel like I have a back-up for parenting Isabella.”
Lynn Ellis, single mother of two who was referred to Thrive Behavioral Health (The Kent Center at the time) in 2006 by DCYF.
"Even now, 16 years later, we talk about our clinicians at Thrive."
In 2006, Lynn had just been reunited with her children after four years apart. Each member of the family, including Lynn herself, met with their own clinician in Thrive’s Youth & Family Program. They were clients of Thrive for nearly 3 years.
“As a single mom going through a tough time I really needed someone to reach out to. Thrive helped our family in so many ways. It was unbelievable how much they helped us. I get emotional talking about it because it was a really tough time for me and the staff there helped me re-learn my kids and rebuild my family. The staff at Thrive took the time. They were involved on an emotional level and had a relationship with my children like they were our extended family.
Even now, 16 years later, we talk about our clinicians at Thrive. My kids love Mary (one of Thrive’s clinicians). We all love Mary. Mary is fantastic. I recently wondered if Mary was still with Thrive so I called there and I was so thrilled when she called me back! I wanted to tell her that we are doing great. I wanted her to know that everything she did for us did not go unnoticed, and that we are doing fantastic now." Mary Jean Zaroogian has been a Clinician with Thrive Behavioral Health since 1987.
"There is so much I could say about Thrive that is good and positive – what it does for families. It made such an impact on my family. I will forever be grateful to Thrive,” says Lynn Ellis, Client of Thrive, 2006.
Housing First Rhode Island: What clients say...
“Aspire to Reach Higher”, artwork by Emmalee Macatrao
Emmalee Rose Macatrao, age eleven, is the youngest granddaughter of Hillsgrove Clubhouse Advisory Board member David Thatcher and niece of a former Hillsgrove Clubhouse Member, David Thatcher, Jr. Emmalee loves art. She recently drew this giraffe with this special message to share with staff and Members of Hillsgrove Clubhouse to inspire others like her late Uncle David to reach their full potential while living with mental health issues. READ MORE...
Based at Thrive’s 2756 Post Road location in Warwick, Thrive's Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) Team within our Community Support Program administers care to over 100 clients in the community and in their homes. During the COVID-19 pandemic, those who serve on the ACT team have faced a variety of challenges in response to clients’ increased behavioral health symptoms.
"People look to healthcare providers for answers,” shared Jenna O’Brien, RN, pictured above. “My greatest challenge has been not having all of the answers to my patients’ questions about COVID-19 or the vaccines. As a nurse, I was taught to always give the most honest and evidence-based response possible. Unfortunately, a lot of answers to their questions are not available, and that causes my clients anxiety.”
Due to their behavioral health symptoms or co-occurring medical conditions, many clients are unable to travel or spend time with their relatives. “It bothers my clients tremendously that they can’t see their parents or attend funeral services of loved ones,” shared Anthony Macro, RN. “These stressors have such a negative effect on their behavior and their physical stability.” READ MORE...
As a Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic, Thrive Behavioral Health helps improve the quality of life of children, families and adults impacted by mental illness, addiction and homelessness. COVID-19 upended Thrive’s service delivery systems and our staff and clients had to learn to quickly adapt to new procedures and protocols. Simultaneously, current clients and the general community began experiencing increased levels of isolation, stress, anxiety and fear.
Throughout the pandemic, there has been no reprieve in demand for behavioral health services – and no respite for frontline workers providing direct care to clients. This is particularly true among Thrive’s nursing staff, whose responsibilities include managing the interface between primary and behavioral healthcare. What follows is a look at their perspectives.
“We halted everything as soon as we figured out that we were in a real pandemic, especially with our clients, stopping them from going to their day programs,” shared Mary Kenney, RN, who assists adults living in a supported housing environment. “It was a total restructure of what we had been doing.” Kenney addresses her clients’ anxieties by validating their feelings. “Everybody was so fearful about what would happen to us, including myself,” she said. “I told them, it’s okay to be afraid. You’re going to feel like you don’t know what to do, but we will figure it out as we go along. If we are super careful and follow the guidelines of washing, sanitizing, wearing masks, we will survive.”
With the implementation of teletherapy, staff had to adapt to providing assessments over the phone. “The biggest struggle has been losing the face-to-face connection,” stated Ana Sofia Alves, RN who works for one of Thrive’s Integrative Health Home teams. “In our field, it is important to be able to assess our clients’ affect, mood, body movements and general appearance. We rely on visual cues, which you can’t see over the phone.” Lead Nurse Karen Rush, who has worked at Thrive for over 36 years, concurs. “For me, not being able to see clients has been the hardest,” she said. “You can tell how people are feeling and doing by watching their expressions.” READ MORE...
The global pandemic has brought profound uncertainty and increased restrictions to our community. Thrive’s Healthy Transitions Team has had to find innovative ways to continue to meet program participants’ needs and ensure their mental health does not destabilize. The team understands that a large part of participants’ clinical success happens outside of the confines of the office. They know how to think outside the box when outreaching, engaging and providing treatment to their clients. Throughout COVID-19, they have continued to follow this practice. In the words of clinical supervisor Erika Cannon:
“Recovery looks and feels differently for each individual stepping through our door; for many their focus is to decrease symptoms of psychosis - and for others it’s finding a career path that gives them a sense of purpose. Every day, we have the privilege of witnessing someone’s recovery firsthand – by hiking with them across the Audubon – or helping them obtain a driver’s license – or assisting them with completing housing forms so they can move into their own home. My team is there by their sides, every step of the way, and a pandemic isn’t going to keep us from doing everything we can to help them continue to achieve their goals.”