Julie McNeil Nominated for Marion Lindblad-Goldberg Award

Julie McNeil, M.S. has been nominated for the prestigious Marion Lindblad-Goldberg Award, recognizing her exemplary work improving the lives of families through ecosystemic structural family therapy as a Mental Health Professional with RHA Health Services. The award, named in honor of Dr. Marion Lindblad-Goldberg, celebrates professionals in Pennsylvania who embody her visionary approach to family therapy.

A driving force behind Julie’s success is her dedication to her own growth and development. Rachel Fritz, RHA Behavioral Health Team Leader, testified, “Julie is very much able to stay slow in the face of the pressure. She doesn’t allow a family’s intensity to affect her direction and treatment in that moment. She really worked on that.”

In her ecosystem and with the families that she works, Julie remains open to guidance and direction and is willing to enact change in herself for the betterment of the families. “I have worked with Julie for over three years. She always works to improve, and she always is moving forward. She takes criticism with positivity and turns it into something to work on.” said Lisa Freese, RHA Mental Health Worker.

Throughout her career, Julie has demonstrated a commitment to meeting families where they are, understanding their unique challenges, and guiding them towards lasting change. “Since I was a little girl, I’ve always had this passion to help people. Whether it’s a friend, family, or someone off the street, I’ve always wanted to be there to help them. Being honored by my peers is such an honor. I can’t even begin to describe what it means to me,” said Julie McNeil.

Julie’s nomination for the Marion Lindblad-Goldberg Award is a testament to her profound impact. RHA Health Services is proud to have Julie McNeil on our team and support her work in the Mental Health community. 

To learn more about Julie McNeil and ecosystemic structural family therapy, visit pcfttc.com.

Employee Spotlight: Celebrating RHA Team Leads at the Place Where Humans Bloom!

Carlina S. and Nicole K. are Team Leads in North Carolina who recently celebrated five years with RHA.

Carlina is a Peer Support & Bridge Home Team Lead for RHA along the coast of North Carolina. Carlina began her journey at RHA as a Qualified Professional on the Transitional Management Services team in New Bern, a role she filled for a little over three years before transitioning to her current role as Team Lead over the Peer Support Team almost two years ago. In her current role, Carlina has been an instrumental part in establishing two new Trillium Bridge Recovery Homes in Greenville, North Carolina. Under Carlina’s leadership, the programs have seen such impressive success and growth in the Community Peer Support team’s caseload that they were able to split the team into two community Peer Support teams – one serving Greenville and New Bern, and the other serving Craven, Carteret, Edenton, and Elizabeth City.

Carlina is admired by her coworkers and has been referred to by peers as a great example of a strategic leader.

Nicole K. is a Transitional Management Services (TMS) Team Lead, also located along the east coast of North Carolina. Since Nicole came on board five years ago, she has been instrumental in training leaders within the company — Carlina being one of them.

Nicole maintains a full caseload and is often the first point of contact by Trillium Health Resources when they have a new member who needs to be transitioned to a TMS team in the New Bern area. Nicole is reported as  willing to drop everything to see a new individual and get them started with services. Coworkers described Nicole as a leader that is invested in the wellbeing of people, and someone who would willingly sacrifice anything to help a person supported.

We are so grateful to have Nicole and Carlina at RHA, and for the work that they are doing to help people we support live their best lives.

Interested in joining our team? Visit rhajobs.com to view available positions near you.

Peer Support Brings Added Value to Recovery at RHA

Peer Support Services are recovery-focused, person-centered services for adults living with mental illnesses or substance use disorders.

At RHA, individuals who receive peer support services are paired up with a certified Peer Support Specialist (PSS) who will help guide them on their recovery journey. A PSS is someone with lived experience who has graduated from recovery courses and gone on to receive specialized training in how to support others on their journey.

With the help of a certified Peer Support Specialist, people learn how to manage their own recovery and build self-advocacy skills. Having guidance and support from someone who has “been there, done that” is what many in recovery value the most about peer support services. A PSS serves not only as a mentor but also as a source of hope and inspiration to people who are beginning the recovery process.

Brenden was a recipient of peer support services at RHA Health Services. With the help of a PSS, Brenden was able to access services that changed his life, including Individual Placement and Support (IPS) Supported Employment. He shares his experience in a video filmed by UNC Psychiatry:

Thank you, Brenden, for sharing your story!

Are you looking for support on your recovery journey? Visit us at https://rhahealthservices.org/behavioral-health-services/ to view behavioral health services by state.

Peer Support at RHA Inspires Those in Recovery to Give Back

Donna received peer support services from RHA during her recovery – now, she’s a certified peer support specialist at RHA.

At RHA, individuals who receive peer support services are paired up with a certified Peer Support Specialist (PSS) who will help guide them on their recovery journey. A PSS is someone with lived experience who has graduated from recovery courses and gone on to receive specialized training in how to support others on their journey.

For some, peer support services are so impactful on their individual recovery journey that it inspires them to give back. This was the case for Donna, a Peer Support Specialist with RHA who utilized our peer support services during her own recovery journey. In this video from UNC Psychiatry, she talks about her experience:

Donna’s story echoes that of many of the peer support specialists at RHA Health Services, including team members like Cole, Ethel, and Tanya, whose stories you can read by clicking here.

If you’re interested in becoming a Peer Support Specialist or helping people in recovery, visit rhajobs.com to learn more and view available positions near you.

Thank you to Donna and others for sharing their stories and providing inspiration and support for others in recovery!  

Seeking Behavioral Health Clinicians to Join RHA’s Team — Where Humans Bloom!

People are at the center of everything we do at RHA — including the people we support, their families and communities, and our valued team members. It is because of our dedicated team of professionals that RHA continues to be a place #WhereHumansBloom!

This video highlights the incredible work that our Behavioral Health Clinicians do every day. If you or someone you know is interested in joining our team, please visit our Careers page to see our current openings and apply now to join us in making a difference in the lives of others.

RHA Offers Two New Behavioral Health Locations in North Carolina

RHA recently opened two new behavioral health locations offering substance use services in Fayetteville and Jacksonville, North Carolina.

The Fayetteville and Jacksonville behavioral health locations both include RHA’s Hilltop Comprehensive Substance Use Services program, and offer an array of services, including comprehensive clinical assessments, substance abuse intensive outpatient treatment, and medication management. Additional services may be added in the future.

“We are excited about these programs because they offer us another way to assist the people in these specific communities with substance use disorders,” said program manager Kiersten Jones. “Our clinical staff has over 25 years of experience in the field working with adolescents, active duty service members, family members, and veterans. We have staff that is certified in Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT), Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), and other areas of need, which can be of great benefit for people in addressing both their traumas, and their substance use diagnosis.”

Staff involved with the new program have expressed excitement for the potential benefits these services will offer to the community, and individuals struggling with a substance use diagnosis.

“We believe that both counties are in need of additional services, based on statistics from the 2019 Cumberland County Health Assessment, and the 2019 Onslow County State of the County Health report. Substance use/abuse services are needed for a community health improvement plan,” said Jones.

If you or someone you know is living in Cumberland or Onslow county and is in need of substance use treatment, please call or visit one of our new locations:

Fayetteville Office
1014 Hay Street
Fayetteville, NC 28305
Office: 910-900-3100

Jacksonville Office
1300 Gum Branch Road Suite A
Jacksonville, NC 28540
Office: 910-968-4100

RHA’s Peer Support Services Empower People in Recovery to Help Others

Ethel A. and Tanya S. graduated from substance use programs at RHA – now they work for RHA in North Carolina helping others in recovery.

At RHA, Peer Support is an important part of our substance use services. Our Peer Support Specialists are people with lived experience who have graduated from recovery courses and gone on to receive specialized training in how to support others in recovery.

While Peer Support is not a required element of programs like SAIOP at RHA, most people elect to participate.

“Since embedding Peer Support into SAIOP our success rates and our graduation rates have absolutely skyrocketed,” said Cole S., who leads the Alamance, NC SAIOP Peer Support Team. “Our [Peer Support Specialists] provide an added layer of support of people in recovery. They’re more available than a counselor, they meet with you on a weekly basis, and they provide that sort of warm handhold that gives people the confidence to go to recovery groups or participate in other recovery-oriented activities that might otherwise seem intimidating.”

Cole has worked with many people who have gone on to become Peer Support Specialists themselves. One of those people is Ethel.

Ethel was a Peer Support Specialist with RHA for four years until her recent promotion to Certified Drug and Alcohol Counselor. Before that, though, Ethel was a client seeking services with RHA.

“I actually participated in SAIOP [at RHA] three times,” said Ethel. “I was unsuccessful the first two times, but the third time I was in treatment, with the support of my Peer Support Specialist, Cole, I was successful.”

After graduating from SAIOP, Ethel returned to RHA in a job as a Peer Support Specialist, where she went on to work with many people in recovery—one of whom was Tanya.

“I think my experience in SAIOP at RHA absolutely saved my life. I learned a lot about myself, how to cope with my traumas, and about the disease of addiction… and I enjoyed my time in peer support so much that it inspired me to go into this field once I graduated.” said Tanya.

Although Tanya has only been a Peer Support Specialist with RHA for a few months so far, she reports that the work has had a huge impact on her personally.

“This role is impactful. I am reminded every single day of the exact place I was in, and that means a lot to me. I know how hard it is, I know how difficult life seems in early recovery. I can see myself in [the people I support]. It’s rewarding for me, because I understand, and I can offer them hope that the things they’re going through won’t last forever.” said Tanya.

Ethel echoed Tanya’s sentiment.

“It’s very rewarding to be able to give back what was given to me. There’s something special about peer support and working one-on-one with somebody and watching their growth. I tell people that all the time. Like, with Tanya and others who I’ve worked with who are now successful, to know that you really made a difference [in their recovery] is incredible. You come in hoping that you can do that, but to actually see it, it’s just indescribable.”

Sara H., a Behavioral Health Regional Director with RHA in NC, reports that the team has been great for the community.

“Working with the Alamance Substance Use team is a true honor. They strive to guarantee strong recovery principles and aptitude within our agency and community, and Ethel and Tanya are a cornerstone of this team…”

Ethel, Tanya, and Cole are just a few of the incredible team members helping people in recovery every single day. If you’re interested in Peer Supported Services, or RHA’s other Behavioral Health programs, please visit https://rhahealthservices.org/behavioral-health-services/ to learn more.

Thank you to Ethel, Tanya, and Cole for sharing their experiences and for all the incredible work they do every day!

Recognizing RHA START Teams & Outstanding NC START Staff Members

Celebrating the START Community

The 2021 START National Training Institute was held virtually from May 3rd through May 5th 2021. As part of the event, three RHA NC START staff members were awarded for outstanding work. The winners are listed below, along with more details about their individual awards.

2021 START Leadership Award: Demetra Grigley

“Demetra rises to every challenge with positivity and a can-do attitude.  Her perspective as a seasoned member of the START team helped others to stay mindful/focused on the day.”

This START Team Leadership Award recognizes a START Leader who demonstrates a thorough understanding of the START model and has made significant contributions to improving the quality of life for people supported through START. This recipient exemplifies the START philosophy of positive engagement with individuals, families, and the service system.

Nominated by Andrea Caoili; Amy Huff; Ann Doucette; Michelle Klutz – North Carolina West



2021 START Team Member Award | Team Leader / Certified START Coordinator: Luis Hernandez

“Luis is endlessly curious and a fierce advocate for those we support. Luis asks the hard questions and pursues answers utilizing all resources available to him.”

This START Team Member Award recognizes a Certified START Coordinator or Team Leader who demonstrates a thorough understanding of the START model and has made significant contributions to improving the quality of life for people supported through START. This recipient exemplifies the START philosophy of positive engagement with individuals, families, and the service system. START Coordinators should be with a program for at least 1 year and must be certified.

Nominated by Kenya Williams; Suzy Mayberry; Kerri Shaw; Sara Stanton – North Carolina East


2021 Therapeutic Supports Award | Resource Center Counselor: Latoya Ward

“Latoya works tirelessly to find new creative ways to support our guests; to help them feel safe, loved and to feel purpose. she is a calming gentle force which reassures everyone that ‘everything will be ok.’”

This START Team Member Award recognizes a START Resource Center Counselor who demonstrates a thorough understanding of the START model and has made significant contributions to improving the quality of life for people supported through START. This recipient exemplifies the START philosophy of positive engagement with individuals, families, and the service system.

Nominated by Kerri Shaw; Steve Tuzo



Poster Competition

RHA START West submitted and presented a research poster during the Virtual 2021 START National Training Institute. The poster won 2nd Place at the event: the presentation and poster are linked below.

Click here to view a presentation about the efficacy of virtual crisis response during the COVID-19 Pandemic


START stands for Systemic, Therapeutic, Assessment, Resources & Treatment.  START is a comprehensive model of service supports that optimizes independence, treatment, and community living for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) and behavioral health needs.

The Center for START Services at the University of New Hampshire Institute on Disability/UCED is a national initiative that works to strengthen efficiencies and service outcomes for individuals with IDD and behavioral health needs in the community.

START National Locations

START in North Carolina

NC START consists of several statewide community crisis support programs for individuals with intellectual/developmental disabilities and complex behavioral or mental health needs. Crisis prevention and intervention services are provided through crisis response, clinical consultation, training, and respite.

NC START operates throughout the state of North Carolina as three distinct programs (West, Central, and East). The programs began serving adults (18 and older) in 2009 and expanded to children (6-17) in 2016.

RHA Health Services operates the West and East programs in North Carolina. The NC START West program operates through a collaboration with VAYA Health and includes clinical teams in Asheville and Concord, with a Resource Center in Statesville.  The NC START East program operates through a collaboration with Trillium Health Resources and includes clinical teams in New Bern, Wilmington, and Greenville, with a Resource Center in New Bern.

Project Alcopop Sticker Shock!

Teens mitigate underage alcohol sales by calling-out alcopops.

On September 22nd  at Eblen Short Stop in Fairview, NC, RHA Prevention Youth staff, Hannah Bruce and Ada Holt, planned and participated in Project Alcopop Sticker Shock! as part of the North Carolina Preventing Underage Drinking Initiative. At this event teens placed warning “stop sign” stickers on the lids and cases of alcopops. Alcopops are fruity, malt flavored alcoholic beverages, which are popular among youth. Alcopops often taste and resemble soda, juice and energy drinks, and aren’t bitter like beer or wine. Examples include Mike’s Hard Lemonade and Hard Ciders.

Because of their sweet flavor and low cost, alcopops are marketed to youth.

The warning stickers placed on the alcopops remind adults to check IDs, not sell alcohol to minors and not purchase alcohol for minors. This project gives youth the opportunity to take responsibility and hold adults responsible.

Ada and Hannah’s prevention efforts got national attention. Online news site, The Take Out, wrote an article on the event titled “NC: Teens tag North Carolina stores’ ‘alcopops’ with red warning stickers.” This article was then shared by the National Alcohol Beverage Control Association.

This article makes one thing very clear: youth are powerful and their message is being heard.

The NABCA is asking RHA youth to back down. The article states “…if [this project] turns into a statewide or national movement, [alcohol] companies might step in to politely request these kids save their stickers for their trapper keepers.” As a way to prevent negative press, alcohol companies are intimidating youth. The NACBA sees youth-led public health campaigns as a threat.

RHA Prevention youth staff are not anti-alcohol, we are anti-underage drinking. This project isn’t about drawing attention to the alcohol industry. This project is to educate adults in our community. Youth want it known that ninety percent of people before the age of 21 are drinking alcohol; furthermore, youth who start drinking before age 15 are 4x’s more likely to develop alcohol dependence or abuse later in life than those who begin drinking at or after age 21.  Youth know their responsibility and are reminding adults of theirs.

This article was written by Hannah Bruce, Youth Prevention Specialist & Heather Daniels, Prevention Specialist 1

https://www.nabca.org/sites/default/files/assets/files/2018DNU/DNU_SEPT_25_018.pdf to read the original article covered by the National Alcohol Beverage Control Association.

RHA SAIOP Team Holds National Recovery Month Event

On Monday, September 11, 2017, the Burlington RHA SAIOP team held an event to simultaneously recognize September as National Recovery Month and the successful completion by three individuals of the SAIOP program. Every September SAMHSA sponsors Recovery Month to increase awareness and understanding of mental and substance use disorders and celebrate the people who recover. As reported on the SAMHSA website; “Recovery Month promotes the societal benefits of prevention, treatment, and recovery for mental and substance use disorders, celebrates people in recovery, lauds the contributions of treatment and service providers, and promotes the message that recovery in all its forms is possible. Recovery Month spreads the positive message that behavioral health is essential to overall health, prevention works, treatment is effective and people can and do recover.” Cole Shaughnessy, CSAC, CPSS, SAIOP facilitator, and Nancy Baraks, LCSW, LCAS, SAIOP team lead hosted the event inviting SAIOP alumni, Alcoholics Anonymous representative Jeff Palmer, and RHA service provider representatives to speak. RHA providers Vanessa Tribble, LCSW, Peer Support and Beverly Jones, LPC, LCASA, outpatient therapist, were asked to provide information on step-down service lines such as Peer Support Services and Substance Use group. Harvey Bryant, CSACA, Peer Support Specialist provided a personal message of support and encouragement to those on their recovery journey. Jeff Palmer shared his recovery story and information on the 12 step program as a continued support in the recovery community. The honored graduates from SAIOP are (pictured left to right) Elizabeth Valines, Cole Shaughnessy, CSAC, CPSS, Cheryl Harrell, and Rachel Smith. We encourage all to recognize and support those who continue their recovery journey and those who support and serve these individuals during this month.