Frequently Asked Questions

These are questions that are frequently received at Public Health along with the most common answers to these questions. Each situation is different, so these answers may be helpful but not specific to your particular situation. Please utilize the resources provided in these answers or in our Resource section

In Arizona we have divided our state into three regions and in each region there are integrated health care plans that provide services for those needing general mental health services, or substance use services and those that are determined to have a serious mental illness (SMI).

So with that little bit of background, I will certainly try to guide you to the appropriate place. Your son will want to get enrolled with AHCCCS which is the name of Arizona’s Medicaid program. To apply go to and click the ‘get started’ button for individual and family. It will walk him through his options and help him to get started with one of the 7 health care plans that provide integrated services in Maricopa County.

If your son has been determined to have a Serious Mental Illness (SMI) he still has to enroll in AHCCCS but he will receive his services through Mercy Integrated Health Plan. Once he is enrolled he will be assigned a Case Manager who can assist him with his getting his needs met.

There are two steps you can take that will help you to know if she is in jail and then how to let the mental health staff within the jail know more about her history.

First, you will want to go to this site: - enter the information and you know if she has been booked into jail.

If she is in jail, there is an online form that the Mental Health/Medical Staff reviews regularly.  This information is enables staff to provide the best possible care for those in jail with mental health and/or physical health problems.

One thing to note -- this information will not be able to be acknowledged on your end.  So don’t expect a phone call or email back from the mental health or medical staff as they are not able to contact you.  

Sometimes people are unwilling or unable to make a choice to get the help they need but are doing behaviors that are harmful to themselves or others.  This leads to the option of involuntary commitment.

In Arizona to be involuntarily placed into a facility or hospital for treatment for mental health you have to fit one of the four categories below and be ordered by the court for evaluation and treatment.

  • Be a danger to yourself
  • Be a danger to others
  • Be gravely disabled (meaning you are unable to take care of basic needs)
  • Be persistently or acutely disabled (means you are likely to suffer severe mental or physical harm that impairs your judgment so that you are not able to make treatment decisions for yourself)

The process to get a person court ordered treatment requires a completed application for Involuntary Evaluation. This puts into motion a series of steps that allow for assessment and then determination of what is best for the client and if the client meets one of the four criteria listed above. 

To better understand the involuntary commitment process, you can check out this information from Maricopa County Public Defense Services which also explains the role of mental health court in working with clients with serious mental illnesses.

Alcoholics Anonymous or AA is not a cult.  It is an organization that was formed by Bill W. and Dr. Bob in the 1930’s.  They formed AA because they both had a drinking problem and nothing had helped them to get and stay sober until they found each other and built a fellowship and created the ‘twelve steps’ which helped them, and others to stay sober and rebuild their lives. 

The original group grew into other areas of addiction – drugs (Narcotics Anonymous), gambling (Gamblers Anonymous), smoking (Nicotine Anonymous) and there were twelve step programs developed for loved ones who struggled with how best to deal with a parent, spouse, friend who was drinking, using or involved in addictive behaviors – Alanon, Alateen are just a couple of options.  

Not all people like the Twelve Step programs but for thousands of people around the world it has been a very helpful way to connect with people that understand the challenges of addiction and dependence and find support and peace in their lives. People can always go to a meeting to determine if it is a good fit for their needs. Find AA meetings in Maricopa County.

Great question and it is important for clients to understand what therapeutic approach their Behavioral Health Professional is using and how such approaches might be helpful. DBT is a legitimate therapeutic approach and is a form of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). Like CBT it focuses on feelings and thoughts but also adds relationships into the mix in terms of what influences behavior. DBT focuses on developing 4 skills for people:
  1. Consciousness/Mindfulness;
  2. Understanding impulsiveness and negative behaviors;
  3. Understanding intense surges of emotion and learning how to ‘self-regulate’ them;
  4. Balancing chaos and relationships that cause conflict. Building these skills can help people to feel more in control of their emotions, their choices and their lives.

Life Coaches are different than therapists in many ways. For one thing they are not licensed by the state of Arizona to provide services and therefore not regulated. Additionally, although they usually go through some training program they do not have to complete a graduate program, internship or supervision before opening their practice. So why would someone go to a life coach? Life coaches can be helpful in dealing with an issue and they are usually focused on one particular area of expertise – career, relationships, finances, health, etc. Usually life coaches have personal experience as well as some training to become a life coach. If you see a life coach you most likely will have to pay for his/her services out-of-pocket as most insurance companies will not pay for services provided by life coaches. Since Life coaches are not regulated in Arizona it is wise to read as many reviews as possible before starting to work with a coach and to ask, at your first session or first contact, for information about their background, experience and how long they have been working as a coach. For some additional guidance:

Great question. Trauma Informed Care means being aware of how trauma experienced at any early age, can impact brain development and behavior throughout one’s life. Often people behave in ways that do not seem to ‘fit’ with a situation. For example, maybe someone is very hesitant to let a doctor touch or examine them and of course, the medical provider has no clue why and may get very frustrated or angry with a patient (which doesn’t help). Trauma Informed Care means that medical, mental health, teachers, etc. have been trained to understand that ANY patient, student or client who comes into their office may have experienced trauma and is therefore vulnerable. Trauma Informed Care empowers patients, students and clients to set limits or boundaries and not be blamed or seen as ‘difficult’ or ‘wacky’ or ‘defective’. Many medical and mental health clinics and schools, as well as places of work are moving towards creating a trauma informed care model in an effort to effectively teach, treat and help people they serve to heal.

This video will explain more about trauma informed care and why it is important for people to understand what it is and why it is important to be trained in it.