The Future Leaders Awards program is brought to you in partnership with PointClickCare. The program is designed to recognize up-and-coming industry members who are shaping the next decade of behavioral health, senior housing, skilled nursing, home health, and hospice care. To see this year’s Future Leaders, visit https://futureleaders.agingmedia.com/.
Michelle Feng, chief clinical officer for Los Angeles-based Executive Mental Health, has been named a Behavioral Health Business 2023 Future Leader.
To become a Future Leader, an individual is nominated by their peers. The candidate must be a high-performing employee who is 40-years-old or younger, a passionate worker who knows how to put vision into action, and an advocate for behavioral health patients and the committed professionals who ensure their well-being.
BHB caught up with Feng to discuss her passion for geropsychology, her hope for change for the better in behavioral health, and sharing the value of her work and the work of her peers with the rest of the health care system.
What drew you to this industry?
What drew me to this specialty was a combination of personal and professional opportunities. My grandmother had dementia. While I was in college, I had to deal with my own medical issues that took me away from my studies for a semester. My parents were working, and I spent a lot of time with my grandmother. I knew there were a lot of aspects to the process that I didn’t understand.
What struck me was the way I saw our family deal with it: the cultural influences, what was not said, the stress and the love that can come out of all of that. I knew there was something special about that wasn’t being talked about enough.
That was complimented by my time at USC as a graduate student. My advisor, [Gerald Davison, was chair of the psychology and gerontology department] at the time. I was able to meet and work with some great researchers and clinical minds in the field. The clinical foundation was formed for me there and the opportunities that came with it. It was an inspiring time.
What’s your biggest lesson learned since starting to work in this industry?
One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is that it’s important to know the value of your service. And that’s not just financial value — although incredibly important — but also what you bring to the table as someone in the behavioral health space. In graduate school, clinicians in training don’t learn about the business aspects of our profession, which puts the field at a bit of a disadvantage. We don’t totally know our worth, and if we do, we don’t always have the practice of explaining it to others.
It’s not because clinicians aren’t smart or savvy. It’s just a shift in the way we think about our work.
If you could change one thing, with an eye toward the future of behavioral health, what would it be?
I can’t just say one. So, I’ll say reimbursement, waitlists and improved continuity of care.
What do you foresee as being different about the behavioral health industry looking ahead to 2023?
Differentiation of services. I see a lot of different ways to care for our mental health and the services that will be offered. That, coupled with a more expansive mindset and more savvy mindset from the public, will help people find the thing that works for them so that they can be healthy and live life. That will be a great thing.
In a word, how would you describe the future of behavioral health?
Evolving. It’s not a straight path to a perfect system. Progress isn’t linear. But things are moving. We are seeing changes happening. The future of behavioral health includes more informed clinicians advocating for our field and also more informed consumers finding their right fit.
What quality must all Future Leaders possess?
Future Leaders are innovative thinkers who are grounded in integrity, grounded in curiosity and have an interest in connecting with others.
To learn more about the Future Leaders program, visit: https://futureleaders.agingmedia.com/.