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Finding HOPE in mental health recovery
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Finding HOPE in mental health recovery

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Daniel Lee Haley has used his personal struggles to help lead Tucson-based HOPE Inc. from a small behavioral health agency to an agency run not only for but by people with firsthand experience with mental illness and addiction.

Haley is one of four people being recognized this month for improving the quality of behavioral health options in the community at the sixth annual Daniel Moreno Awards.

Haley, the CEO of HOPE, is the recipient of the recovery award, the signature of the Daniel Moreno Awards. Susan Moreno started the awards in 2007 after her son Daniel committed suicide while receiving treatment for schizophrenia.

HOPE is now the only peer- and family-run comprehensive service provider for behavioral health in Arizona. When Haley joined HOPE in 2010, the organization it had a staff of around 14 and a very different approach.

“We were dependent on the (mental health) system for referrals, had an inconsistent caseload and were only open maybe three hours a day,” Haley said.

HOPE has since transitioned to a fully operating comprehensive service provider that serves 500 members seven days a week.

HOPE provides hot meals and flexible access to physicians, support groups and navigators who aid in specific areas such as housing at its center, 1200 N. Country Club Road. It also staffs a “warm line” that people can call after hours to receive help in a non-emergency.

“We provide a direct understanding people can’t get anywhere else. When we say we’ve been there and done that, it’s because we have,” said Eric Stark, community outreach coordinator for HOPE.

Haley and his team transformed the organization to make it peer-to-peer, meaning most of the people working there have personal experience with mental illness and addiction issues.

Haley knows how important it is to work with people who truly understand.

Haley was diagnosed as a child with a major depressive disorder when treatment options were not advocated. “I was told as a child that I would not amount to anything,” he said. “Even five years ago, I never thought that I would be CEO of a company.”

He began working with people with disabilities at 16 and later earned a bachelor’s degree in social work from Arizona State University. He went on to work with government organizations as a case manager and says he began coping with his worsening episodes of depression in his mid-20s with alcohol.

“People knew about my substance abuse, but not so much about my mental illness,” Haley said.

Finding positive and supportive people who knew firsthand what he was going through helped him with his own recovery as he worked and raised two children.

After 20 years working for other agencies, Haley took his personal experience with recovery to HOPE by helping to create an environment that is entirely peer-run.

“The motto for HOPE is ‘We’re in it together,’ ” Haley said. “Because it’s true — it really takes a village to make this possible.”

Sally Hueston, a member and peer of HOPE, began using the facilities toward the later stages of her recovery to develop her professional skills. Hueston is now HOPE’s community diversion program coordinator and nominated Haley for the award.

“Being in recovery, you have to hide parts of your past from your employers because it’s like your dirty secret,” Hueston said. “At HOPE, you never have to hide it or be ashamed of it.”

Stefani Elizabeth Quihuis is a University of Arizona student who is an apprentice at the Star. Contact her at starapprentice@tucson.com or 573-4117.


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