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Shining a light on societal mental health and the future

April 12, 2021

Alyson Kuroski-Mazzei, DO, MRO, DFAPA | CEO & Chief Medical Officer 

You’ve seen the headlines. We are seeing mental health challenges surge as we continue to navigate the pandemic, and socioeconomic determinants of health continue to go in the wrong direction.

According to a publication by a leading medical journal, JAMA, COVID-19 has tripled the rate of depression in US adults in all demographic groups. Emergency Department utilization has also increased for children ages 5-17.

Data from the CDC, state and local health departments and other organizations is still in the works; however, as a mother, wife, and physician health care leader, this data is cause for action.

While this reality is heavy on my heart and mind each day, HopeWay is working with community partners and expanding access to care to help mitigate these issues.

We are not just in the business of mental health treatment - we are in the business of inspiring hope and mental wellness. And for that, I am grateful. Hope is woven into everything that we do. We see clients regain lost hope through our programs each day. As a non-profit navigating the pandemic, we also held onto hope. While it was a most challenging year, it also gave us an opportunity to pause and be intentional about where we want to go in the future.

Writing this causes me to reflect on the thousands of lives impacted by HopeWay and how we have evolved since we opened in 2016. HopeWay started with a strong mission and vision, a sharp focus on our core values and the recruitment of a solid team of mental health experts. Today, those elements of our foundation make it possible to keep dreaming and growing with great promise for what lies ahead. Even with the myriad of challenges COVID-19 brought us, we recently expanded to meet other needs. We have grown into our strengths and are now utilizing our treatment model and staff expertise to serve Veterans on our main campus and children and adolescents (in addition to adults) at our outpatient clinic, HopeWay Psychiatry & Associates.

The pandemic brought to light, once again, the health inequities across the country and in the Charlotte area. We are committed to help change these inequities by extending elements of our model to meet the needs of other parts of our community. Many organizations are focused on improving societal mental health, and we are excited about joining in this collaboration that will make us all more impactful in our work.

Many things have changed over the past five years, and several things shifted with the pandemic, but one thing that has been steadfast is the quality of care we offer. Even with the challenges of 2020, we have never wavered on excellence, and continue to look for ways to improve our organization and programs.

Behavioral health studies show that integrated health is the best approach to combating mental health challenges. HopeWay’s model is not “one size fits all” but tailored to meet the individual needs of each client to achieve the most desirable outcome. Our evidence-based treatment addresses overall health and sustainable recovery, not just psychiatric management. This model works. We have seen that proven time and time again, not only through client success but through our outcomes data analyzed by UNC Chapel Hill’s Department of Psychiatry. We also hear it in the narrative. In our first year of operation, we most often would hear, “Oh, HopeWay’s campus is so beautiful” and now the louder message is, “My psychiatrist saved my life” or “My therapist still checks-in weekly” or “I have been sober for 4 years.” Amazing on every level.

Last year we saw a growing division in our country, but we also witnessed tremendous compassion – a neighbor helping a working mother while her kids did virtual school, a stranger grocery shopping for the elderly man in isolation, someone lending an ear to just listen and be supportive. 2020 reiterated that the compassion for our clients and other people struggling with mental illness extends way beyond the walls of HopeWay. Companies, large and small, are shining light on employee mental wellness, psychiatrists are volunteering their time to care for doctors and other healthcare workers who are struggling, school systems are thinking of new ways to support the mental health of teachers and staff. HopeWay is here as a resource to all.

Reflecting on our core values, growth and success gives me confidence that HopeWay can help lead this fight for mental wellness that is before us.

Our collective belief in the importance of mental and physical wellness is the mentality required to shift society’s mindset and combat the impact that mental illness has on our families, our businesses, our healthcare systems and our culture. I am humbled to be a leader in the mental health field during this important time, and so proud that HopeWay is here to join with you and others as we move forward. Thank you for the support, passion and trust you have given us throughout this challenging time. 


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Editor’s note: This blog post is presented for informational purposes only and is not meant to diagnose or treat any illness. If you have any health concern, see a licensed healthcare professional in person.