Open Excellence is the Foundation for Excellence in Mental Health Care. We are excited to announce the launch of our redesigned website and new look. Come check it out, and join us as we work to bring excellence to the practice of mental health care.



September 8, 2020 by Foundation for Excellence in Mental Health Care

Open Excellence Welcomes New President & CEO Seana O’Callaghan

WILSONVILLE, OR, September 8, 2020 – Open Excellence, a public interest foundation dedicated to revolutionizing mental health care, today announced that Seana O’Callaghan has been named as President and Chief Executive Officer. Jessica Pratt, who has been acting Chief Executive Officer for the last six months will continue as Chief Communications Officer.

Seana O’Callaghan began her work in community mental health at the Nathan Kline Institute in the Department of Statistics and Services research over 15 years ago. There and at non-profit organizations dedicated to improving mental health services and ending homelessness, she gained experience in mixed methods research, grants administration and grant writing, project management and intervention research development. She has worked independently as a grant writing consultant in the fields of housing and public mental health, and established and operated a successful private retail and service business. Ms. O’Callaghan is currently based in Berlin, Germany.

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May 22, 2020 by Foundation for Excellence in Mental Health Care

Therapy Collective a Port in the COVID Storm

History of the collective

Open Path Psychotherapy Collective is a non-profit network of mental health clinicians dedicated to providing affordable psychotherapy to individuals, couples, families, and children in need. Founded in 2012, Open Path has grown tremendously in the last 8 years, expanding to a network of almost 10,000 clinicians and connecting over 35,000 members with therapists across the United States and Canada.

Open Path’s model works by allowing members to join Open Path for a reasonable, one-time membership fee. Members are then able to select an Open Path therapist with whom they would like to begin their therapeutic journey. Members have lifetime access to therapy sessions with an Open Path therapist at greatly reduced sliding scale rates. Therapy sessions can be done in-person or using an online platform.

Therapists who join Open Path join a larger nationwide movement to make mental health care more accessible and are able to directly provide affordable therapeutic services in their local communities. Therapists are also linked with a number of professional benefits that enable them to strengthen and grow their practice.

COVID Response

When the Covid-19 pandemic began to affect U.S. communities in March, we at Open Path had many conversations about the potential mental health impacts of the pandemic. With Americans feeling isolated and anxious due to social distancing requirements, and with the economic downturn that resulted in millions of people losing their jobs and struggling with increased financial insecurity, we anticipated that there would be a greater need for affordable therapy. And while we initially saw a dip in new member enrollment in late March, we are now seeing new member enrollment numbers climb back up to pre-pandemic levels.

At Open Path, we have a unique window into the mental health state of the collective, as we review hundreds of new member applications every week in which people provide a snapshot of their mental health needs. The majority of new member applications we are currently seeing mention the profound effects of the pandemic – members frequently mention lost jobs, challenged relationships, and increased anxiety. Members also mention how mental health needs that had gone unaddressed before the pandemic are now further compounded by the pandemic’s effects. In the upcoming months, we anticipate a large need for more Open Path therapists as our member numbers grow. We are focusing our efforts on recruiting more therapists to meet the impending increase in mental health needs.

How to help

Please consider contributing to Open Path to help grow our therapist network. This is a time of immense mental health care need and by donating to Open Path, you directly assist us in meeting that need.

Our gratitude and thanks–

Paul Fugelsang
Executive Director
Open Path Psychotherapy Collective


paul-fugelsangPaul Fugelsang, MA, LPC, is the founder and executive director of Open Path Psychotherapy Collective. He received a masters in psychology from Naropa University. He is also the advisor of the Open Path Psychotherapy Collective Fund at the Open Excellence.






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May 12, 2020 by Foundation for Excellence in Mental Health Care

New Research Shows Effectiveness of Hearing Voices Groups


Contact: Gail A. Hornstein, PhD                                     FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


A newly published paper shares key findings from the largest and most in-depth study of Hearing Voices peer-support groups ever conducted.

Wilsonville, OR: In an article published in the journal Psychosis, Gail Hornstein, PhD, Mount Holyoke College Professor Emerita of Psychology (and her co-authors Emily Robinson Putnam and Alison Branitsky), present the first set of results from their national study of Hearing Voices Groups (HVGs). Their project is the largest and most in-depth examination of such groups ever conducted, and the first to be based in the US. HVGs offer an alternative to traditional mental health interventions focused on stopping or trying to block experiences classified as “hallucinations.” Although these groups have spread to 30 countries on five continents and are rapidly expanding across the US, few studies have analyzed their effectiveness.

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April 12, 2020 by

Finding the Silver Lining in Toilet Paper

I am trying to find the silver lining every day. I am grateful I have a job I can do from home that contributes to the public health efforts especially during this time that I will refer to here as the “situation”.  I am also grateful that I have a home – a roof over my head and a place I can call my own! Hello-right?!? So many don’t have stable housing, employment , health care coverage (oh to be in the US  now…) and access to food. And what’s up with the run in the stores on toilet paper (Elaine from Seinfeld  – “can you spare a square?”- Uhhmm, No.)?!?. Perhaps the bidet really is a good idea!?

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March 28, 2020 by Sandra Steingard, MD | Psychiatric Times

I Am a Critical Psychiatrist


In most respects, my career as a psychiatrist working in community mental health has been ordinary. I have a long-standing and deep curiosity about the phenomenon of psychosis. Although I worked in academic settings early in my career, my interests in clinical work along with my desire to work part-time when my children were young, led me to community mental health. I have worked for the same community agency for over 25 years and I am currently serving as its Chief Medical Officer. I feel fortunate that my interest in my patients and work has not waned. What is most surprising to me is that, nearing the end of my career in psychiatry, I have come to define myself as a critical psychiatrist.1

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March 27, 2020 by Foundation for Excellence in Mental Health Care

New CEO Search Underway

Chief Executive Officer, Open Excellence (Foundation for Excellence in Mental Health Care)

Wilsonville, Oregon  (Portland area)


As the new brand for the Foundation for Excellence in Mental Health Care, Open Excellence seeks to connect the passion of private philanthropy with the world’s top researchers and programs to bring recovery–based care and support to every community. The organization was founded on the principle that people experiencing distress should be treated as people first—not as diagnoses or cases. Its core beliefs revolve around the conviction that the current medical model of mental illness should be challenged in favor of a wellness model where the expectation is recovery rather than a lifetime of disability.

Open Excellence links people from around the globe who share a common dedication to improving mental health outcomes through promising new programs. By relying less on medication and more on engaging families and communities, these programs empower individuals to create their own path to recovery.

Open Excellence is currently structured on a community foundation model and encompasses a variety of initiatives and funds, including donor-advised funds. It is a convener of interested parties and a catalyst for positive change in the field. Supported through donations from individuals, corporations, foundations and legacy gifts, it engages in a broad scope of activity to advance independent research, innovative programs and its own initiatives. It has a staff of 4.5 FTEs and an annual budget of approximately $1 million. For more information about Open Excellence, visit their website at

Position Summary

Open Excellence is seeking a Chief Executive Officer to lead and grow its U.S. and international programs. The successful candidate will have a passion for recovery-based care and be able to skillfully engage key constituencies to improve the mental health system. The CEO should embody an entrepreneurial spirit, seeking out creative new initiatives and engaging funders to enable those efforts.

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February 2, 2020 by Foundation for Excellence in Mental Health Care

Excellence Bids Farewell to Founding Executive Gina Nikkel, PhD


Dear Friends and Colleagues,

The Board of Directors is announcing that Dr. Gina Nikkel will be stepping down as the President & CEO of the Foundation for Excellence in Mental Health Care to take a new position.

Gina was our founding director, and her audacious plan to promote reform in mental health care shepherded us from a start-up to a leader in funding independent research, education, and programs that support recovery-oriented practices. By connecting private philanthropy with top researchers and programs to support the Foundation’s unique vision, she knew we could encourage excellence and envision new benchmarks for care and approaches to research that are now becoming mainstream.

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January 21, 2020 by Foundation for Excellence in Mental Health Care

Mad in America Continuing Education 2020 Webinar Course: Innovative Approaches with People Who are Suicidal

Early Bird discount of $75 if you register before February 15

Despite national and local suicide prevention efforts, the suicide rate in the United States has steadily climbed over the past two decades. The same rise in suicide has been reported among veterans. As a society, we need to rethink our efforts to helping people who are suicidal.

Mad in America Continuing Education is hosting an 11-seminar course in 2020 that will promote that “rethinking” effort. The eleven presentations will focus on the following:

  • What are the social factors, such as unemployment and gun ownership, that are known to affect suicide rates?
  • Why haven’t suicide awareness programs lowered suicide rates? Do antidepressants reduce—or increase—the risk of suicide?
  • A public health effort in Oregon that has successfully reduced suicide rates.
  • Innovative therapeutic programs, including several developed by people with lived experience, that are proving to be effective in lowering the risk of suicide.
  • How to protect mental health providers from liability when working with people who are suicidal.

We anticipate receiving approval for a total of 11.0 CEs (1.0 CE credit for each webinar) for psychologists, social workers, nurses, licensed professional counselors, and marriage/family therapists.

View schedule & register

(Use coupon code  FEMHC for $50 off the regular course fee.)

All courses are presented live and also recorded, and thus are available at times convenient for those who are enrolled.

If you have any questions, please contact MIA Continuing Education Director Bob Nikkel at

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October 14, 2019 by Foundation for Excellence in Mental Health Care

Mental health is a care we must share

Wide social networks can help to shield people from mental disorder. A leading psychologist argues that we should celebrate this collective responsibility

The government published its first national review of children and young people’s mental wellbeing on 10 October, World Mental Health Day. The report found that four out of five children are happy with their lives. Or, more worryingly, that one in five are not.

But what lies behind these figures? Between 2012 and 2018, the number of children and young people referred for mental health treatment increased by about two-thirds. The number of university students reporting a mental health problem rose fivefold over the same period. How can we understand these dramatic increases? Has there been an actual rise in mental disorder?

In fact, reports of a rise in mental health problems are for the most part exaggerated: the prevalence of mental disorder in five- to 15-year-olds has increased, but only by 16% in the past 20 years, although the increase for emotional disorders for young women aged 16-24 is far higher.

The most likely explanation is that in recent years we have become better at expressing our thoughts, feelings, beliefs, wishes and desires and have passed this on to our children. Describing our mental states helps us, as a society, to collaborate, allows us to share our emotional experience and to build social support. This has tremendous benefits for mental health and wellbeing. People who are not able to collaborate are much more likely to express their difficulties through physical illness or anger.

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October 2, 2019 by Keele University News

“Emergency Poet” Opens Literary Pharmacy to Support Mental Wellbeing

Literature academics from Keele University are opening an innovative “Poetry Pharmacy” to dispense literary “first aid” as a way of bringing the therapeutic benefits of poetry to the local community and to support mental health.

“Emergency Poet” Deborah Alma, a Lecturer in Creative Writing at Keele, and senior lecturer and poet James Sheard have started the venture as a novel way of showcasing poetry, focusing on good mental health and well-being.

The “Poetry Pharmacy”, set in a Victorian shop in the high street of the Shropshire town of Bishop’s Castle, is holding a launch event on Thursday 3 October and will officially open to visitors on Friday 4 October.

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