Just three months ago we welcomed Patrice, our current Executive Director of Network Operations. From the beginning of her career, she has shared a strong passion for helping others and improving mental health in the populations and communities she finds herself in. With her current achievements of becoming certified as an instructor for Mental Health First Aid, being a PhD candidate, and having owned her own business, taking on a challenge is nothing new for Patrice. Throughout her life, she has often balanced many personal and professional priorities. Patrice learned the importance of self-care and self-reflection early on through her work within the school system, in providing community-based treatment, and later with managed care.
Patrice first gained experience in the medical field through working in the front office of a primary care practice during high school After completing her undergraduate degree in criminal justice, she started her career in law enforcement working in the juvenile justice system. During this time, she worked firsthand with youth that were newly arriving into the system and those who were transitioning out. Patrice shared that she saw the real impact with those transitioning out and discovered the stark racial disparities in community resources. Many of the youths that she encountered shared that they had more to look forward to within the juvenile center than they did at their own homes and communities.
Patrice thought “If the problems are at home, what can we be doing to improve their lives and wellbeing there, so they don’t end up here?” This revelation led to Patrice transitioning into working in the community and in schools with a behavioral health provider who worked with young people that had experienced severe trauma and violence. Once again, she recognized the racial disparities with the populations she served and the significant difference in the social determinants of health (SDOH) needs between different patients. Fueled by the passion of doing the right thing, Patrice found herself looking for opportunities to make a meaningful impact on what she was seeing.
The next steps for Patrice were working in network management and care coordination. It was here where she was able to find connections for patients, build relationships with care teams, and begin the journey of expanding the knowledge and skills she needed to continue growing personally and professionally. While engaging with those close to her, Patrice found herself sharing her professional and personal experiences with mental health disorders. Such discussions led to speaking engagements and co-facilitating workshops at local churches and organizations regarding the importance of supporting individuals that are impacted by mental health and substance use disorders. As she began sharing and processing more of her experiences, Patrice knew that she wanted to learn more to be able to better educate and assist those that she encountered, both individuals who had first-hand experience with mental health challenges as well as those who may be experiencing vicarious trauma in their own careers.
Pursuing her master’s degree in mental health and wellness, she found herself diving deeper into her academic career and becoming more in tune with where she wanted to be professionally. Prior to completing this degree, Patrice felt the desire to continue her education to better help her community. In the fall of 2020, she entered a doctoral program and is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in psychology with an emphasis in cognition and instruction. With her prior experiences and mission to help others, her core topic and dissertation focus on racial trauma and the research that shows correlation with traumatic experiences that create long lasting effects and severe mental illness. She also wants to focus on alternative methods to assist those that may be apprehensive to traditional methods to create a more humanistic approach to treatment delivery.
When joining the team at Blaze Advisors, Patrice highlighted the part of our mission to destigmatize mental health and substance use treatment. “I really appreciated the mission statement of ‘Save Lives, One Population at a Time’ because not every population is the same. Yes, as a whole, we all need to be saved, but we must focus on different needs for different people.” From her experience, Patrice has recognized that treating the whole person yields long lasting results. “Fostering the connection between physical and mental health can be so impactful, “ she said, “and that’s what I appreciate about being part of an organization working towards building that connection.”
When not working on her dissertation, Patrice spends her time reading, cycling, visiting art and history museums, cuddling with her dog, Rylee, hosting a weekly Bible study with her family, and listening to music.