Embark Behavioral Health
After the recent formation of Embark Behavioral Health, we sat down with CEO Alex Stavros to learn more.
How did Embark Behavioral Health come about?
On the heels of CDC numbers showing that adolescent (preteens, teens and young adults) anxiety, depression and suicides reached an all-time high, we decided to merge 16 programs together to tackle an inspiring Big Hairy Audacious Goal.
Our Big Hairy Audacious Goal:
to lead the way in helping take anxiety, depression and suicide from all-time highs of today to all-time lows by 2028.
What makes you say the levels of anxiety, depression and suicide are at all time highs?
Many of us have felt like we can and should be doing more to curb the negative mental health trends in our country. This is what I mean:
- On September 10, 2018, an article came out with the following title: The US suicide rate has increased 30% since 2000 and tripled for young girls.
- On August 4, 2017, the US News & World Report came out with an article titled: Suicide Rates for Teenage Girls at All-Time High.
- And then, on October 11 the New York Times published: More American Teenagers than Ever Suffering from Severe Anxiety.
- On May 10: Major depression on the rise among everyone but is Rising Fastest Among Young Adults.
- On December 18, 2017, the following article was published: Teenage Suicide Reaches All-Time High.
- On August 14 another: Suicides under age 13: One every 5 days.
- And then on April 22, the New York Times published: U.S. Suicide Rate Surges to a 30-Year High.
Even with 180 NATSAP programs and hundreds more across the country, the problem has only gotten worse. Many of us have felt convicted. Because if not us, who is going to tackle these issues?
That sounds like a big goal. How can Embark make a difference?
The journey we are embarking on together reminds me of a quote from Margaret Mead:
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.”
We need to work incessantly to increase the awareness of these issues and increase the options for and improve the accessibility of high-quality treatment.
We can’t do this alone, we need to extend a collaborative spirit to other programs and people all over the country that share common values and interests.
We need to expand our influence into community-based education, prevention, assessment and outpatient treatment and open dialogue with government agencies, payors, politicians and other stakeholders to form partnerships that get at the root causes of these issues. We have a lot of work to do but if we work together, I am optimistic we can make a difference.
Is the BHAG a distraction from your core business?
No, it’s one of the things that holds us all together.
Growth is hard, and we need to all be obsessed with executing to our highest ability… we need to be focused on personal excellence and the details of today.
The stakes are high. As we grow we not only expect the quality of treatment at our programs to stay the same, but to improve. That is critical toward tackling this BHAG.
Why Embark? What’s in the name?
We didn’t make this name change right off the bat because we wanted our focus to be on program quality and employees to come first. We didn’t want to do anything to distract our programs from providing the best treatment.
We want the programs to be the stars of the show!
Naturally, with the bringing together of our companies and programs, we had to come up with a new organization name. So, after a thorough process and several rounds of voting, we decided on Embark Behavioral Health as our new umbrella company name!
Embark communicates something that is unique, something positive, something that ties to who we are and where we are going. It’s action-oriented and creates a great visual image.
Is Embark Growing too fast?
No, Embark is not growing fast enough. Adolescent anxiety, depression, and suicides reached an all-time high last year. Things have only been getting worse year over year over the past couple of decades. There are hundreds of programs and outpatient setting across the country and even with that things are getting worse.
Somebody must do something different than what has been done in the past. Something more. Something big.
We have decided to bring all our leaders and programs together and commit to reversing the trends. We hope that others will commit and rally! Since we are in the helping profession we all work with the same intention.
We are all essentially on the same team, and most importantly, if we work together and embark on the same journey, together, to curve the negative trends of anxiety, depression, and suicide in our country, we can make a difference.
Are the programs changing?
The programs will continue to operate with little interference. Embark thinks big, as evidenced by its goal of reversing the trends of adolescent anxiety, depression, and suicide in the country, but operates small.
There are no plans to mandate clinical interventions across companies or develop operational changes in the programs that would negatively impact treatment, the student experience, or our referring professionals. In fact, all original founding members of the programs continue to call the shots in their programs.
With that said, Embark has a proven, internationally validated outcomes platform, the industry’s highest quality of care and safety standards in the nation. We would like to implement those standards in partnership with the Executive Directors across all programs, but that may take some time.
How is the company organized?
In the interest of minimizing unnecessary change, we are keeping the strong Calo Programs, InnerChange Brands and New Vision Wilderness network. And, of course, all programs will also continue with their names and focuses and will keep doing the great work they are already doing; we don’t want to get in the way of that. Each company and the underlying programs will continue to operate independently and maintain their core brand and identity.
The four already existing companies and CEO’s are;
- Calo Programs, CEO Chris Perkins
- Innerchange Programs, CEO Dave Prior
- New Vision Wilderness Programs, CEO Drew Hornbeck
- Potomac Behavioral Health, CEO Sean Ketterick
Other than myself and the above-mentioned CEOs, the rest of the Embark Senior Support Team is comprised of Dustin Tibbits (Chief Quality Officer), Landon Kirk (Chief People Officer), Norm Vitols (Chief Financial Officer), and Thomas Ahern (Chief Marketing Officer).
What holds Embark together?
What ties all of us together are our
- Core Values of Empathy, Service, Trusting Relationships and Growth
- our Core Purpose of Creating Joy and Healing Generations
- our Vision to become the most respected, recognized and valuable family behavioral health company in the world
- our Big Hairy Audacious Goal.
Our company also has three uniques:
- A proven, internationally validated outcomes platform,
- The industry’s highest quality of care and safety standards, and
- A unique and complimentary continuum of programs including long-term and short-term residential treatment, wilderness therapy, community-based outpatient (partial hospitalization, intensive outpatient), family intensives, assessment, and family transition.
How will families and professionals access services?
Therapeutic Educational Consultants provide exceptional service to many of our families. Not only do they tour our programs regularly, but they provide coordination of services and care management for families. They really are experts in placing young people in need of residential care. For more information go to https://www.iecaonline.com/about/.