Expert Care — Rodney Mell

Rodney Mell, Zumbro Valley Mental Health Recovery Program Supervisor

Rodney Mell, of Oronoco, is a licensed alcohol and drug counselor and serves as Recovery Programs supervisor at Zumbro Valley Mental Health Center, Rochester.

What did it take to get this job?

Managerial expertise and clinical experience.

What drew you to Zumbro Valley Mental Health Center?

Excellent reputation for the treatment of substance abuse problems, including an enhanced treatment program for co-occurring disorders; substance abuse and mental health (as well as Zumbro Valley's use of best-practice guidelines for treatment).


How many patients do you work with each year?

The staff and myself will work with hundreds of individuals experiencing drug or alcohol problems in any given year. We provide individualized and specialized services to persons who are needing the basics of treatment, the person who has cognitive impairment and using substances, the person with a co-occurring disorder, the person who may be more accepting of the harm-reduction model and a program specific to women. I work both directly and indirectly with our patients both as the clinician and as the supervisor.

Why is chemical health treatment important?

The substance abuse profession is currently undergoing significant change, with research spinning off of large investments in traumatic brain injury and post traumatic stress disorder and how these conditions impact people who struggle with addiction. Through these and other studies, we have evidence that addiction is a disease rather than just a moral or self-will issue. A better understanding of how the brain works and the behavioral factors enhances current and potential treatments, giving patients better information to manage their substance abuse problems throughout the course of their life.

What do you offer patients?

I think the most important gift my colleagues and I provide is helping patients understand they can live a fulfilling life. It may not seem that way when people first start treatment, but passing along the knowledge to help them modify their behavior to accomplish this is personally very gratifying.

What challenge do you face?

Unfortunately, there is a lack of funding resources to help many of our patients.


Tell us about a turning point in your life:

The day I discovered that developing and nurturing relationships is more important than completion of tasks.

3 things patients can do to decrease the need to see you:

Understand that there are others who have faced this disease and are now clean/sober and that they can be a support. The second is to understand that physical, mental and chemical health are all inter-related and a holistic approach to treatment is most beneficial to recovery. Finally, people need to embrace the fact that they have been created for a purpose and to lead a life in that purpose.

Finish this sentence: Stigma...

... needs to be replaced with the truth that we all are interdependent on each other.

Name an on-the-job lesson you learned about patient needs:

Early on in my career as a treatment counselor, I determined that empathy is critical for successful treatment and have used the following truism since: "I breathe the same air you breathe, drink the same water and walk the same earth you do, so let's complement each other."


What are some of the greatest needs for chemical health treatment?

People must be willing to explore their readiness and motivation to make lifestyle changes. People also need to explore how alcohol or drugs has consequentially affected their work, relationships and other aspects of their lives. Finally, it's vital that people realize recovery is a life-long process.

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