The Quiet Work of Mental Health
Shannon Murray Ready To Help Hancock County
BAR HARBOR—During COVID-19 in Spokane, Washington, and even before, as a nurse anesthesiologist, Shannon Murray saw first-hand the toll of first responders: police, EMTs, nurses, veterans dealing with jobs that puts them on the front lines of pain, tragedy, and stress.
“As a nation, we were in a bad place mental health wise already, now COVID has made it so much worse,” Murray said. “I saw my fellow colleagues experiencing trauma because of our jobs.”
That trauma wasn’t just in Spokane.
According to EMS.Gov,
“For example, research shows individuals in certain occupations, including first responders, appear to be at increased risk for suicide. Firefighters and law enforcement officers are more likely to die by suicide than in the line of duty; and EMS clinicians are more likely to take their life than members of the general public. Public safety telecommunicators are at risk as well; studies have found that nearly one-quarter experience depression and as many as 24% have symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).”
First responders have to not just deal with the primary person who needs help, but often must deal with family members or bystanders who are scared, worried about their loved ones, traumatized by what is happening. And first responders are just humans. Caring for humans is Murray’s motivation; using her skills to help them is her passion. The trauma she saw in the people around her inspired her to action and become a psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioner (PMHNP).
“Everyone experiences trauma at some point in their life. You always try to prevent trauma. But you can’t always, so you try to treat it,” Murray said. “COVID was a very unique experience as an anesthesia provider, not having the proper equipment to protect ourselves.”
According to Springerpub,
“In 2018, according to one government estimate, approximately 47.6 million adults aged 18 or older (19.1 percent of U.S. adults) experienced a mental illness in the past year. Roughly 12,700 NPs are certified in psychiatric-mental health.”
That need is part of what has driven the Bar Harbor and Mount Desert Police Departments to hire a mental health liaison. It’s also part of why Murray, already successful and highly in demand in the medical field, went on to get that prestigious certification.
A PMHNP can determine and treat someone’s mental health needs. They can choose to provide counseling and psychotherapy. Murray focuses on working with a patient’s health care advisor or therapist and providing medications.
First responder trauma prompted this huge commitment an addition to her already large accomplishments in the medical field.
“The veterans have a special place in my heart as well as first responders,” she said. “That’s why I went back to school for it. Once I got here in Maine, I worked here in anesthesia.”
It keeps coming up: that extreme need here for psychiatric practitioners.
“The need is overwhelming. It’s quite sad. It’s sad to hear that people are having to wait six months to a year for care,” she said. So, she’s opened a practice, Acadia Psychiatry, in Mount Desert at 1049 Main Street while also still providing other services for local hospitals.
There is an alphabet of letters behind Shannon Murray’s name: MSN, CRNA, APRN, PMHNP-BC. That last group of letters stands for psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioner.
“I’m taking it slow, accepting clients as they contact me. I’m getting to know other mental health providers,” she said.
Part of the need to take it slow is that even after learning, testing, and certification, a practitioner has to get credentialed with all the major insurance companies. Right now she’s seeing self-pay patients. She’s just got credentialed with Cigna. MaineCare and Anthem can take up to six to eight months after the application has been seen. She already has a list of patients to notify once she gets credentialed by each individual insurance agency. And there are a lot.
Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield
Community Health Options
United Behavioral Health/Optum (United Health Care)
Despite all that credentialing and all that wait time, Murray is undaunted. She knows that the need is huge. She wants to help fill it.
“I do like to collaborate with the patient’s other providers such as their therapist and primary care provider. I believe in taking a holistic approach to mental health,” she said.
“Some people think, ‘oh, I’m a therapist’ or ‘oh, I’m a psychologist,” she said. Her primary focus as a practitioner is diagnosing mental illness and conditions and prescribing medication. “My focus is truly on medication. Even through there are some elements of therapy that therapist aspect is not the focus. That’s where people get a little bit confused.”
Relatively new to Maine, Murray and her husband moved to MDI from Spokane, Washington in 2013. She grew up in Houston, Texas. She is also a practicing certified nurse anesthesiologist.
“I do provide anesthesia services at MDI Hospital as needed,” she said. She also provides those services to Northern Light-Maine Coast and Coastal Eye Center.
She lived in Spokane, not just through COVID’s main thrust but during the wildfires where it felt like she was walking through hot jello to take care of her horses. She first visited Maine when she was 25.
“It became a lifelong dream to be here,” she said. Persistence and patience got her here. “I feel very at home here.”
She sees patients both in person and telehealth, six years old and up.
Some conditions that she regularly sees (not an all-inclusive list) are:
Bipolar I & II
Seasonal affective disorder
Peripartum mood disorders (Post-partum depression and anxiety)
HOW TO CONTACT MURRAY
Acadia Psychiatry, PLLC
Phone: 207-367-3954 | Fax: 207-569-6087
In-person appointments: 1049 Main St, Ste. 2S Mount Desert, ME 04660
Mailing address: 55 Cottage St, PO Box 540, Bar Harbor, ME 04609
LINKS TO LEARN MORE
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