Mental Health Care Veteran Appointed CEO of Valley Oaks Health

LAFAYETTE, Indiana – A new CEO and President has been appointed for Valley Oaks Health, the comprehensive mental health and addiction care center in Lafayette serving nine Hoosier counties.

This designated community mental health center provides mental health care regardless of insurance status or age as it has multiple child-focused therapies.

Earlier this year, Dan Arens, chief operating officer of a similar organization, Adult & Child Health in Indianapolis, was named Valley Oaks Health’s next president and CEO. Arens has over 25 years of mental health experience and looks forward to taking on his role as President and CEO of Valley Oaks Health on September 1.

“This has been kind of a lifelong goal or dream of mine,” said Arens, “to get to the place where I can work with a really good leadership team that, for the most part, already exists at Valley. So it was a 25 year thing in the works. It was pretty exciting to achieve that.

Arens went on to explain why he is particularly excited to continue his career at Valley Oaks Health; in part because of his commitment to diversity and patient care.

“I think (Valley Oaks Health is special because of) the caring people, honestly,” Arens said. “I certainly haven’t met everyone yet, but from the Board of Directors to the leadership team to some of the frontline employees I’ve interacted with, Valley has a culture of inclusion — a culture of genuine caring for the patient — that I have . not seen in every psychiatric center and industry.

“There is only this drive. And it’s probably a cliché, isn’t it? I think every company thinks their employees care the most, but I’ve been part of a lot of mental health centers and I’ve been really surprised by the people I’ve interacted with at Valley…”

As for Valley Oaks Health’s future plans, expanding access to a broader range of services is a key goal.

“At Valley, just like any other mental health center,” said Arens, “we definitely want to increase access. (Makes) it easier and faster for people who need care to access the level of care they need.”

Arens explained that peer coaching, group sessions for conditions such as depression, training on mental health services and housing benefits for low-income earners are part of the likely expansions.

When asked what he would like readers to know about Valley Oaks Health, Arens mentioned the importance of receiving and maintaining mental health care when needed, especially given its importance to an overall healthy body.

“I think the most important thing is that people need to know that people are recovering from mental illness every day,” Arens said. “It’s not a lifelong diagnosis. It’s something people often suffer from depression and anxiety, addictions and the like that with the right help that Valley provides, people can recover and live happy, healthy lives.

“…Without sanity there is no health.”

Margaret Christopherson is a reporter for the Journal & Courier. Email her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @MargaretJC2.

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