September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month

Thao LeBy Thao Le, MSN, APRN, PMHNP-BC, Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner

In 2022, a record high of 539,810 lives were lost to suicide in the United States – an increase of 2.6 percent over the previous year.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), risk factors for suicide include:

  • Previous suicide attempt
  • History of depression and other mental illnesses
  • Serious illness such as chronic pain
  • Criminal/legal problems
  • Job/financial problems or loss
  • Impulsive or aggressive tendencies
  • Substance use
  • Current or prior history of adverse childhood experiences
  • Violence victimization and/or perpetration
  • Bullying
  • Family/loved one’s history of suicide
  • Loss of relationships
  • High conflict or violent relationships
  • Social isolation
  • Lack of access to healthcare
  • Suicide cluster in the community
  • Community violence
  • Stigma associated with help-seeking and mental illness
  • Easy access to lethal means of suicide among people at risk
  • Unsafe media portrayals of suicide

Suicide rates were highest among American Indian and Alaska Native (AIAN) people, males, and people who live in rural areas in 2021. Specific risk factors that could have led to an increase in suicide rates in 2022 include mental health related symptoms following the pandemic, financial stressors and lack of access to health care.

Healthcare professionals can help prevent suicide by:

  • Routinely screening patients for suicidal thoughts and behaviors
  • Consider hospitalization for patients at high risk for suicide
  • Refer to a higher level of care if needed.
  • Develop a crisis plan
  • Collaborate with family members
  • Collaborate therapists and psychiatric providers

In addition to identifying risk factors, healthcare providers should help identify and enhance protective factors among at-risk populations.

Protective Factors among at-risk populations include:

  • Effective coping and problem-solving skills
  • Reasons for living (for example, family, friends, pets, etc.)
  • Strong sense of cultural identity
  • Support from partners, friends, and family
  • Feeling connected to others
  • Feeling connected to school, community, and other social institutions
  • Availability of consistent and high quality physical and behavioral health care
  • Reduced access to lethal means of suicide among people at risk
  • Cultural, religious, or moral objections to suicide

If you are thinking about harming yourself or attempting suicide:

  • Suicide and Crisis LifelineCall 911 for emergency services.
  • Go to the nearest hospital emergency room.
  • Call or text 988 to connect with the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline. The Lifeline provides 24-hour, confidential support to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress. Support is also available via live chat.

John Smart, LSCSW, Behavioral Health Clinician, along with his wife, Katelyn will represent HPC at the 20th Annual Remembrance Walk at Loose Park on Sunday, Sept. 10. John will have a table with information about HPC, and he and his wife will also participate in the walk.

Health Partnership offers therapy services, psychiatric medication management, and substance use services.

To schedule an appointment or more details, call 913-730-3664.

The Pain and Practice of a Changed Life

Christopher WoodwardBy Christopher Woodward, LMAC, Substance Abuse Specialist

September is National Recovery Month. The aim of this month is to increase awareness and understanding of mental and substance use disorders and celebrate the people who recover.

I always hear the statement “once I stop using, my life will get better.” That is a true statement in that our brain, body and family relationships gain recovery and rest when we stop using our substance of choice. A person can start the long process of rebuilding their hourly and daily lives.

However, the road is more emotionally and physically difficult for the person seeking recovery. For some substances, quite literally, there is more emotional and physical pain attached to recovery than resuming use. This is not great news for those early in recovery, but it is a welcome reminder of where we have come from for those that are a little further down the road. There is an opportunity to mend relationships, earn respect and push out of being marginalized by our substance of choice.

This pain and practice can lead us into the changed life.

Finding a reason to move out of our substance use into change is the first step. Making the change and practicing the change is step two.

The Pain and Practice of a Changed Life I had a mentor tell me once that the best evidence of a changed life is a changed life. It is a simple statement but really difficult to complete. So many of us will change the one thing that we think is holding us back. Whether it is cutting the carbs, stopping that afternoon Diet Coke, or not driving past the liquor store on the way home. These small changes can lead to successes which can lead to more success and momentum of change. Thus, we become better at practicing our change and our process.

We use the support of the people around us and our new skills obtained in treatment to push out of pain into practice of our recovery. We start to move on from the bigger moments of our past and our present. We move on from the trauma, missed expectations, and the wreckage that our substance use has left behind. If we keep up the practice of a changed life, we will one day look up from the work that we have done on ourselves, and our life is changed. We become the evidence of a changed life.

The next step is to serve others and help them along the path to recovery.

Health Partnership offers substance use services, therapy services and psychiatric medication management.

To schedule an appointment or more details, call 913-730-3664.

Substance Abuse Services Offered at Health Partnership Clinic

By Christopher W. Woodward, LMAC, Substance Abuse Specialist

Health Partnership Clinic offers a variety of Substance Abuse Services, including:

  • Early Intervention Program
  • Outpatient Level I Program
  • Intensive Outpatient Treatment
  • Substance Use Assessments
  • DUI Assessments
  • Medication Assisted Treatment

Services are offered to individuals 12 years old and up.

Watch our video to learn more about Substance Abuse Programs offered at Health Partnership.

July is Minority Mental Health Awareness Month

By Ming Strother, LSCSW, Behavioral Health Clinician

National Minority Mental Health Month is observed during the month of July. Prior to her death in 2006, author, journalist, teacher, and mental health advocate Bebe Moore Campbell advocated tirelessly to bring light to the lack of mental health resources in the black and other underserved communities. Struggling to support her own daughter through her mental health needs, Moore Campbell worked with her friend Linda Wharton Boyd, and brought their efforts to Washington. After the death of Moore Campbell, Wharton Boyd, family, and other like-minded individuals continued their efforts in Washington, and in 2008, the U.S House of Representatives declared July as National Minority Mental Health Month.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that in 2020, suicide was the third leading cause of death among blacks or African Americans ages 15- 24. The death rate from suicide for Hispanic men was four times the rate of Hispanic women in 2018. Black females in grades 9-12 were 60 percent more likely to attempt suicide in 2019 compared with Caucasian females in the same age range. Statistics show that suicide attempts for Hispanic girls were 30 percent higher than Caucasian girls in the same age range.

Minority Mental Health Awareness MonthPeople from ethnic minority groups are less likely to seek mental healthcare than their white counterparts for a multitude of reasons. There remains a general mistrust of the healthcare system among these groups. Other reasons for consideration include poverty, lack of access, lack of proper health insurance, provider discrimination, stigma and cost.

We can all help to bridge some of these gaps in care by working to destigmatize mental health within our communities. We can make efforts to use positive language when discussing mental health concerns. We can share our stories and encourage open and honest dialogue about these topics. We can volunteer our time. We can continue to advocate for equal access to services and fight to continue with efforts at expanding health insurance coverage.

To learn more about Health Partnership Clinic’s Behavioral Health Services, please visit our website.
To schedule an appointment call 913-648-2266.

“While everyone – all colors – everyone is affected by stigma – no one wants to say ‘I’m not in control of my mind.’ No one wants to say, ‘The person I love is not in control of [their] mind.’

But people of color really don’t want to say it because we already feel stigmatized by virtue of skin color or eye shape or accent and we don’t want any more reasons for anyone to say, ‘You’re not good enough.'”

-Bebe Moore Campbell


Other Organizations Offering Minority Mental Health Awareness Resources:

World Autism Month: Building Positive Attitudes

Ilexa AxelrodBy Ilexa Axelrod

April is Autism Awareness Month. Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that develops during early childhood and can sometimes go unrecognized through adulthood. Autism is marked by challenges related to social skills and repetitive behaviors. Since the presentation of Autism varies from person to person, it is important to look at each individual’s strengths and challenges to best provide support and interventions.

World Autism Month can be celebrated by sharing stories, defying stigma and increasing knowledge to create a world where all people with autism are honored, admired and appreciated. Not sure how to get involved? The Autism Speaks organization offers a variety of ways to stand in solidarity including the following: wear blue, fundraise, get involved, donate to Autism Speaks and engage in the Kindness Campaign.

World Autism MonthHealth Partnership Clinic is committed to serving all individuals, including those who are neurodivergent or have ASD. If you are seeking assistance for yourself or a loved one regarding locating support or services for autism, you can make an appointment with a physician by calling 913-648-2266.  Alternatively, you may ask to schedule with our Behavioral Health team.

Local resources:

What is Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)?

By Thao Le, MSN, APRN, PMHNP-BC, Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner

Thao LeAccording to the Food and Drug Administration, Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) is the use of medications in combination with counseling and behavioral therapies for the treatment of opioid use disorders (OUD). MAT has been proven to be a safe and effective treatment method in sustaining relapse and preventing cravings and withdrawal symptoms in individuals with OUD.

Opioids are a class of pain-relieving drugs that include hydrocodone (Norco), or oxycodone (Percocet) which are available by prescription to help control acute pain and illegal drugs such as heroin, fentanyl and other synthetic opioids.

When individuals take opiates, they experience an increased sense of pleasure which motivates them to take opiates repeatedly.

Opiate use disorder is a medical condition that develops when an individual:

  • Takes larger amounts or taking drugs over a longer period than intended.
  • Experiences Persistent desire or unsuccessful efforts to cut down or control opioid use.
  • Spends a great deal of time obtaining or using the opioid or recovering from its effects.
  • Craves, or a strong desire or urge to use opioids
  • Problems fulfilling obligations at work, school or home.
  • Continues opioid use despite having recurring social or interpersonal problems.
  • Gives up or reducing activities because of opioid use.
  • Uses opioids in physically hazardous situations such as driving while under the influence of opiates.
  • Continues opioid use despite ongoing physical or psychological problems likely to have been caused or worsened by opioids.
  • Reaches a level of tolerance (i.e., need for increased amounts or diminished effect with continued use of the same amount)

When individuals do not use opiates consistent with medical and legal guidelines, they are at increased risk for drowsiness, decreased breathing and heart rate and death.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved three MAT medications for the treatment of opiate use disorder – methadone, buprenorphine and naltrexone with the purpose of reducing cravings, withdrawal symptoms and pleasure from using opiates.


At Health Partnership Clinic, our waiver-trained MAT providers prescribe buprenorphine/naloxone (Suboxone) and naltrexone and collaborate with our substance use counselor to deliver a whole-person approach to treatment. We believe that patients can benefit just as much from counseling as they do from medication through ongoing communication, identification of goals, enhancing coping skills and relapse prevention. Additionally, we offer weekly groups that allow individuals to share their experiences and serve as a source of support for one other in their recovery journeys.

Per the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, MAT improves patient survival, decreases illicit opiate use and other criminal activity among people with substance use disorders, increases patients’ ability to gain and maintain employment and improves birth outcomes among women who have substance use disorders and are pregnant.

Watch our video to learn more about the medication, Suboxone:


“Together for Mental Health” – Continued Collaboration for Mental Illness Awareness Week

Ilexa AxelrodBy Ilexa Axelrod, BA, Master of Social Work Intern on Behavioral Health Team

Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW), established by Congress over thirty years ago, is Sunday, Oct. 2 through Saturday, Oct. 8. MIAW brings awareness to mental health-related issues that millions of people face to defy stigmatization, combat oppression and offer support each year during the first week of October.

Together we can partner to highlight advocacy, resources and assistance for those with mental health concerns.

When is something considered a “mental health concern?”

When someone experiences thoughts, feelings, or displays behaviors that results in distress, dissatisfaction or dysfunction. Symptoms may interfere with daily life, relationships and other areas of functioning.

Mental illnesses are very common and are found across the world and in varying cultures. Mental health issues may develop from traumatic experiences, sudden life changes, ongoing stress and oftentimes run in families.

What can we do about it?

For yourself

  1. Fulfill your most basic needs: I make sure I’ve had enough water, sleep and eat regularly.
  2. Engage in activities that bring you joy: My favorite things to do include practicing yoga and cooking new recipes.
  3. Talk to someone you trust: They can be a family member, partner or friend.
  4. Seek professional help: It is very common for folks to regularly see a therapist and psychiatrist to help manage concerns and provide a nonjudgmental space.

 Health Partnership Clinic offers affordable therapy and psychiatry services to those who seek them. To schedule an appointment, you may call 913-730-3664.

For others

  1. Be a lifelong learner: While it can be helpful to ask questions about someone’s mental health concerns, it is also beneficial to educate yourself on their specific disorder and how you can best support them.
  2. Practice partnership: As someone who is a “fixer,” I often find it helpful to ask someone if they are looking for support or solutions which allows them to hold the reigns.
  3. Take care of yourself: Supporting someone who is struggling can be difficult. You are your priority, and it is essential to prioritize your wellbeing before someone else’s.

 Who is affected?

Together for Mental HealthThe National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) provides fast facts that capture who is affected by mental disorders.

  • One in five U.S. adults experience mental illness each year
  • One in 20 U.S. adults experience serious mental illness each year
  • One in six U.S. youth aged six-17 years old experience a mental health disorder each year
  • MI by the numbers:
    • 44 percent are Queer
    • 32 percent are Multiracial
    • 22 percent are white
    • 19 percent are American Indian or Alaska Native
    • 18 percent are Latinx
    • 17 percent are Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander
    • 17 percent are Black
    • 14 percent are Asian  
  • Annual prevalence among U.S. adults:
    • Anxiety Disorders: 19.1 percent (48 million)
    • Major Depression Episode: 7.8 percent (19.4 million people)
    • Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: 3.6 percent (9 million people)
    • Bipolar Disorder: 2.8 percent (7 million)
    • Borderline Personality Disorder: 1.4 percent (3.5 million people)
    • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder: 1.2 percent (3 million people)
    • Schizophrenia: <1 percent (1.5 million people)

How can we get involved in Mental Illness Awareness Week?

  • Share your own story or read others’ online at
  • Use social media to post, read and follow. An example NAMI offers to post:
    • One in 20 U.S. adults experience severe mental illness each year, but less than two-thirds get treatment. We must improve access to quality care. #Together4MH
  • Participate in related events:
    • Thursday, October 6: National Depression Screening Day
    • Monday, October 10: World Mental Health Day

Resources for Immediate Help


Johnson County Mental Health Center Crisis Line: 913-268-0156

Headquarters Counseling (KS Suicide Prevention Headquarters): 785-841-2345


National Suicide Hotline: Call 988

988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline Chat:

Why is that broken clock on your wall?

Christopher Woodward“A broken clock is right twice a day.”
By Christopher Woodward, LMAC, Substance Abuse Specialist

September is National Recovery Month. The aim of this month is to increase awareness and understanding of mental and substance use disorders and celebrate the people who recover.

If you have been to the HPC office, you know that the clock on the wall has been broken for about two years. That’s weird, right? Why would you have a broken clock in your office for two years? Well to be honest it never really bothered me all that much. I knew it was broken and didn’t tell time. But it was right twice a day! I just left it up and didn’t address it.

For me, the broken clock was not a problem… more of an inconvenience. However, to everyone else it was more of a problem. Were they late? Did they fall asleep? Others that came in seemed to question it. Some would look up confused like the broken clock was some hidden camera show or a trick.  After a while, I started to notice the reactions of people. Some look up and scowl, some would get confused and disoriented, some would look at the clock and look at me and just choose not to say anything.


National Recovery MonthIn recovery, some of us leave broken clocks on the wall. We have persons, places and playthings around us that don’t work all the time. We have things on the walls of our life that we don’t need any more or that don’t benefit our recovery.

For example, keeping contacts in our phones for people that we know are using or we have used with. Keeping pictures of past “good times” in our camera roll. Not cleaning out our drawers and our hiding spots, so that we can find something that might get us in trouble or turn us back towards a lapse or a relapse.

Other people in our lives see the broken clock on the wall and can become frustrated by it. They become consumed by the question of why would that person hang on to a behavior, relationship or thought that no longer works? Hanging broken clocks is much like holding onto a relationship that we know isn’t healthy and seems to be holding us back from our recovery goals. And that unhealthy relationship is often like a clock that’s only right twice a day.

Taking Down the Broken Clock

Broken ClockMy recovery work is to take down the clock and work on it, to see what is defective about it. Is it the gear box? Does it need a battery… or is it beyond repair? Just like in treatment, we examine it. In this case, the clock in the office was beyond repair, so I had to take it down and find a new place for it, right? No, I had to separate myself from the clock, put it in the trash and move on.  Much is the same with recovery, examining why I don’t need the broken things of my past to be hanging on the walls of my life for all to see is a deep and difficult path. But once the old clock is gone and a new one is in place, my soul feels renewed… Open to new adventures where I don’t have to explain the broken clock on the wall.

July is Minority Mental Health Month

Gretchen WellsWritten by Gretchen Wells, MSW, LCSW, LSCSW, Behavioral Health Clinician, Health Partnership Clinic

Mental illness occurs in people of all ethnicities, races, national origins, sexual orientations, and gender identities, as well as other cultural identities. Any of us may experience distress related to mental health concerns, irrespective of our background. However, those from diverse cultural groups (such as Black/African American; American Indian/Alaska Native; Hispanic/Latinx; Asian American, Pacific Islander, and Native Hawaiian; and LGBTQIA+ communities) often experience inequities related to their behavioral health treatment, support, and quality of care.

According to Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration (SAMHSA), racial and ethnic minority groups are less likely to have access to appropriate mental health services, more likely to utilize hospital emergency departments for mental health needs, and, as a whole, appear to have poorer mental health outcomes.

In order to improve access to mental health treatment and promote public awareness of needs and concerns related to mental illness for diverse populations, Congress formally recognized Bebe Moore Campbell National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month on June 2, 2008. This is in memory of Bebe Moore Campbell, an American author, journalist, teacher, and mental health activist, who labored diligently to bring awareness to the mental health needs of the Black community and other diverse populations. Campbell advocated tirelessly for her daughter, who struggled with both mental illness and a system that seemed to keep her from receiving proper treatment and support. She founded the Inglewood chapter of National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) in a primarily Black neighborhood to establish a secure place for Black individuals to discuss mental health concerns. Campbell sadly lost her battle with cancer in 2006, but her legacy in the mental health advocacy field lives on.

“While everyone – all colors – everyone is affected by stigma – no one wants to say ‘I’m not in control of my mind.’ No one wants to say, ‘The person I love is not in control of [their] mind.’ But people of color really don’t want to say it because we already feel stigmatized by virtue of skin color or eye shape or accent and we don’t want any more reasons for anyone to say, ‘You’re not good enough.'”
– Bebe Moore Campbell

Minority Mental Health

Minority Mental HealthNAMI has adopted the message of “Together for Mental Health” for 2022’s Bebe Moore Campbell National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month this July. Together, we can realize our shared vision of a nation where anyone affected by mental illness, regardless of their background, culture, ethnicity or identity, can receive the appropriate support and quality of care to live healthy, fulfilling lives.

The entire mental health system in the U.S. needs drastic improvement, including when it comes to serving diverse populations. The following are just a few examples of barriers that these communities are often forced to deal with when attempting to access care:

  • Language difficulties
  • A system with little or no cultural consideration
  • Racism, bias, and discrimination in treatment settings
  • Reduced quality of care
  • Less likelihood of health care coverage
  • Stigma from numerous directions (for being part of a marginalized community and for struggling with mental illness), etc.

“What Can I Do”?

Below is a list of ways that you can help ignite change related to the mental health of underrepresented communities:

  • Consider giving a presentation or starting a conversation about mental illness in your community – Check out the NAMI website for sample presentations that you can use, such as Sharing Hope for Black communities and Compartiendo Esperanza for Hispanic/Latinx communities.
  • Emphasize the importance of a culturally competent provider, one who values the integration of patients’ beliefs and values into their treatment.
  • Advocate – Call, write, e-mail, or otherwise start a dialogue about mental health awareness with your legislators, both state- and nation-wide.
  • Share your story or experience related to mental illness – But only if you feel comfortable doing so. There are story-sharing platforms like Ok2Talk and You Are Not Alone if you’re ever feeling isolated or that your community does not understand mental illness.
  • Join a virtual or in-person mental health advocacy walk to raise awareness and fight the stigma (such as NAMI Walks, PRO-ACT Recovery Walks, AFSP Out of the Darkness, Speak Up: Break the Silence, etc.)
  • Donate money to or volunteer with a local cause that focuses on mental illness awareness and de-stigmatization efforts.
  • If you are a health professional, you can continue your cultural competency education via resources such as U.S. Department of Health & Human Services: Think Cultural Health.

At HPC, we strive to practice cultural humility and cultural competence in an integrated setting.

We have staff who are multicultural, multilingual, and trained in and dedicated to providing quality care to the patients we serve. We encourage staff members to build on their natural curiosity, continue their education, and collaborate with patients on plans of care that are culturally sensitive.

The Behavioral Health Team at HPC invites you to celebrate Minority Mental Health Month this July. Please join our efforts to bring our voices together to advocate for mental health and access to care for all.

Thoughts to Consider in the New Year

Post written by John Smart, LSCSW, Licensed Specialist Clinical Social Worker

John SmartThe New Year can be a challenging time as well as a time for hope. Often, the New Year is associated with celebrations, resolutions, and higher expectations for ourselves, and life in general. This can be energizing, or it may feel overwhelming, especially for those of us whose spirits are weary from the pressures of the past year. For this reason, it is important to consider how we can recharge our spirts and nurture our well-being while looking for ways to grow in the coming year.

As we wind-down the holiday season and look ahead, we can take time to reflect on our strengths, aspirations and values. Questions to ask ourselves might be: How are my actions reflecting what has meaning to me? What am I grateful for? What have I enjoyed that also adds energy to my life? What am I doing that gives me a sense of purpose and what are my skills, talents and resources, and how do I plan to use them?

Health Resolutions

This may sound a bit idealistic, and challenging to put into action, but often we can discover answers to these questions when we ask ourselves why we would like to achieve the goals we set for ourselves. For instance, improving diet and exercising more is a very common New Year’s resolution, and one I happen to be considering. This is important to me because my health impacts other areas of life that have meaning, such as the amount of energy I have to enjoy the outdoors and get things done around the house. It also impacts the quality and quantity of time I have with friends and loved ones.


Keeping in mind why we are making healthier choices can impact how we do that in practical ways – we might exercise through enjoying nature on walks with friends, rather than telling ourselves we’re doing time on a treadmill as though it’s a punishment. Rather than trying to live on smoothies and salads, we might consider cooking healthy meals together with family, creating opportunities for conversation and making memories of collaborating around great recipes, or sharing laughter about the ones that don’t work out so well.

Be kind to yourself along the way.

Whatever your hopes and goals for the new year, please be kind to yourself along the way. Check-in with yourself often, celebrating your progress and successes, and asking yourself what support you might need when struggling to move ahead with goals. In life, we are all works in progress, and none of us can go it alone.