Stairways in the News

Stairways to unveil new program

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Stairways Behavioral Health has taken the lead in bridging the significant gap between hospitalization and community-based treatment in the Erie region by introducing a residential program designed for people who aren’t in need of hospitalization but require more intensive and structured treatment and supervision.

In cooperation with Erie County, Stairways has been approved to operate a long-term structured residential (LTSR) setting for stays longer than 30 days but not acting as a permanent residence which is anticipated to begin this summer.

The LTSR location will be situated on the third floor of Stairways’ Personal Care Home (PCH) on 810 Walnut St. A resident team consisting of a physician, nurses, mental health professionals and peers will guide recovery and treatment services in accordance with appropriate and well-formulated treatment plans.

Individuals referred to the LTSR setting will have differing needs depending on a number of factors and will be treated in the most effective manner relative to their diagnosis and condition, said Kevin Berceli, LTSR program director.

“We are looking to provide a safe and structured environment that will offer an array of clinical approaches,” Berceli said “As part of the state’s LTSR regulations, and our own recovery principals here at Stairways, we are excited to focus on individual’s mental, physical, and social needs as well as interventions that foster personal growth in these areas.”

Stairways intends to create programming elements that can be easily modified to meet the unique needs of each consumer. Trained staff members will be responsible for integrating therapeutic activities, such as psycho-educational and process-oriented individual and group therapy services.  The LTSR team will also include skill building sessions correlating to the eight dimensions of wellness as it relates to an individual’s treatment plan

LTSR residents, along with family and friends will be encouraged to take an active role in the recovery planning and community reintegration processes with the consumer’s informed consent. In preparation for successful program discharge, LTSR staff plan to accommodate referrals and help clients find effective community resources such as housing, mobile medication and case management services.

The implementation of an LTSR program will essentially complete Erie County’s continuum of care by offering the resident population an effective combination of treatment and rehabilitative interventions.

"With the addition of the LTSR," clinical supervisor Sarah Howard said, "we are excited to empower individuals in a culture of wellness and recovery that reduces hospitalizations and increases the use of their own strengths and supports within the community."

National suicide prevention event comes to Erie

Monday, March 23, 2015

Each backpack tells a story—a tragic one fraught with pain and suffering, but also one of latent hope for every passerby.

The bags to be displayed at Gannon University won’t contain supplies typically associated with college students, such as books, exams and errant, crumpled papers, but will instead be carrying the personal stories and testimonies of a life taken by suicide.

Gannon’s Active Minds chapter will host roughly 1,100 of these backpacks—symbolizing the number of students lost to suicide each year— on the school’s Friendship Green, West Seventh Street, and AJ’s Way, located between Seventh and Eighth streets, on Tuesday, April 14 as part of the Send Silence Packing® exhibit.

“This event brings up a lot of powerful emotions, but even more importantly an opportunity to have meaningful conversations about suicide and its impact on the community,” David McCartney, vice president of Gannon’s Active Minds chapter, said. “Seeing all of the backpacks will show students that it can happen to them or to those surrounding them and provide a chance for students to learn how to intervene in the best ways.”

Active Minds is a young adult advocacy group dedicated to raising awareness and increasing dialogue on the topic of suicide among college students. Each year, Active Minds displays Send Silence Packing, its signature awareness event, at campuses across the country.

Gannon’s Active Minds chapter, in coordination with Stairways Behavioral Health, is the first area school to bring Send Silence Packing to its campus. Gannon is one of 12 colleges that will host Send Silence Packing during its spring 2015 tour across the northeast that begins March 30.

Ashly Wyrick, president of Active Minds at Gannon, said Send Silence Packing is intended to increase discussion on the subject of suicide.

“This event will raise awareness to students, faculty, and community members that suicide does happen and it needs to be something we discuss to help prevent it,” Wyrick said.

In addition to the displayed backpacks, Send Silence Packing will also provide students, friends and family members the opportunity to obtain information and literature on mental health, suicide prevention and where to seek help.

The aesthetic element of more than 1,000 backpacks located in a high-traffic space on the downtown campus should draw the attention of people to the display, said Active Minds secretary Julia Williams.

“Send Silence Packing is an extremely powerful event because it targets passersby of the campus and community,” she said. “Its outreach does not require people to commit to attendance of the event. A student walking through campus on his or her way to class can experience a life changing and potentially life-saving display.”

While Gannon’s hosting represents Send Silence Packing’s Erie debut, it is not Active Minds’ first visit to the area.

While celebrating its 50th Anniversary in 2011, Stairways hosted Alyson Malmon, Active Minds’ founder, for a speaking tour of three local colleges. As a result of her visit, Gannon and Mercyhurst universities each started student-run Active Minds chapters.

Malmon established Active Minds in 2003 as a junior at the University of Pennsylvania after her only brother, Brian, committed suicide at the age of 22.

Send Silence Packing was unveiled on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., in 2008 with a keynote speech by former congressman Patrick Kennedy. Since then, more than 300,000 people in 85 cities across the country have experienced the event.

In case of inclement weather, the event will be held at inside Gannon’s Waldron Student Center on West Seventh Street.

For more information about Active Minds or Send Silence Packing and a complete list of locations, visit

May is Mental Health - Mind Your Health

Thursday, May 01, 2014

Caring for Your Mind and Body

We all know about the importance about taking care of our health—eating right, getting enough sleep, exercising. Healthy habits positively influence how a person feels and how their body functions.

But good health involves not only caring for our body, but also our mind.

The fact is our mental health is integral to our overall health. Far too many Americans fail to incorporate a principal component into their health choices. Yet overall health and wellness are not possible without it.

What is mental health? If you were to ask your office mate, spouse or neighbor, they may respond that it is a “state of mind,” “being content with life” or “feeling good about yourself.”  Simply put, mental health is the ability to cope with daily life and the challenges it brings.

When a person has “good” mental health, they deal better with what comes their way. By contrast,

“poor” mental health—such as feeling overwhelmed by stress —can make even day-to-day life difficult.

Poor mental health can also significantly harm a person’s physical health. For instance, research shows that stress is closely linked to high blood pressure, heart disease and obesity. It also shows that people who feel depressed or chronically stressed may have a greater risk of physical illnesses.

The good news is there are many healthy choices and steps that individuals can adopt to promote and strengthen mental health—and overall health and well-being.

A healthy lifestyle can help to prevent the onset or worsening of depression, anxiety and other mental health conditions, as well as heart disease, diabetes, obesity and other chronic health problems.  It can also help people recover from these conditions.

This May is Mental Health Month, Stairways Behavioral Health is raising awareness of the role mental health plays in our lives and providing tips and resources so anyone can take steps to promote good mental health. Follow us on Facebook ( for your daily lifestyle tip.

These include building social support, eating with your mental health in mind, recognizing the signs of stress, and knowing when to reach out for help.

Just as Americans have learned there are things they can do to reduce their risk of heart disease and other illnesses, Stairways Behavioral Health wants to help people learn what they can do both to protect their mental health in tough times and also to improve their mental well-being throughout their lives.

We need to care for both our body and mind.

Stairways Center City Arts Receives Asset Grant from the Erie County Gaming Revenue Authority

Thursday, November 17, 2011
Stairways Center City Arts was among 14 applicants – out of a total of 25 – to receive community asset grants from the Erie County Gaming Revenue Authority (ECGRA). The grants were announced Nov. 10 , 2011 during a ceremony at the ECGRA office.

The Center City Arts application resulted in an award of $11,052., which will be used for studio arts programming and equipment upgrades to help cover general operational/instructional expenses.

Dual Diagnosis Outpatient Clinic Receives State-Wide Certification Award

Monday, April 18, 2011
Harrisburg, PA – Stairways Behavioral Health, Dual Diagnosis Outpatient Clinic, located in Erie, PA is the 2011 recipient of the Pennsylvania Certification Board’s President’s Award. The award was presented to Stairways on April 11, 2011 at PCB’s Annual Conference Awards Luncheon in Harrisburg. This prestigious award recognizes the contributions of a person or licensed facility/program that has demonstrated support of and advocacy for the certification process and the addiction/behavioral health field.

“We could not be more thrilled with the selection of Stairways for the President’s Award. They are more than deserving of this recognition” states PCB Executive Director, Mary Jo Mather.

Nominees for the President’s Award must also act with courage and vision; demonstrate leadership and contributions beyond the work of the agency; produce public benefit and/or social change; be licensed or monitored by the PA Department of Health or Public Welfare; and demonstrate advocacy for the certification process.

The unanimous selection of Stairways for the 2011 PCB President’s Award is supported by their mission – “To assist persons with mental health care needs by enhancing their quality of life through education, rehabilitation and treatment services.”

Attending the awards ceremony in Harrisburg were Pamela Ryan, therapist, and Elena Caplea, co-director of Stairways Dual Diagnosis Outpatient Clinic. “The odds of co-occurring addiction and mental health recovery increases greatly for those who build meaningful connections,” said Caplea, when accepting the award. “On behalf of Stairways and our many partners, we thank the PCB for being the connection and support for the providers of Pennsylvania.”

PCB has been credentialing addiction professionals for over 30 years in Pennsylvania.
Stairways has supported the professional development of their staff by encouraging staff to complete the PCB credentialing process.

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