People Profile: Will Duffy
Reporting Mental Health
The Differences Between Psychology and Psychiatry
National Brain Injury Awareness Month

People Profile: Will Duffy

As great a place as Alivation is, it’s still unlikely the team members would show up consistently if they weren’t paid. It’s no great secret to admit that. So: who keeps the payments running on time?

Enter Will Duffy.

It’s only one of his many varied duties, but Will is our Accounting Specialist and all-around data extraordinaire. He runs our people payment programs, makes sure our benefits and accounting numbers are all correct, verifies paid time off, and then schedules them to run on specific days. In an organization of over eighty people, that isn’t a small feat.

And it isn’t Will’s only job.

He spends a good part of his week running data analysis on Alivation’s trends. When do we see the most people? What are they seeing us for? What’s the average cost of a visit? What services do people use the most? Extrapolating from these trends allows the company to forecast where it’ll be a year from now, or a month, a week. Will often consults with Dr. Duffy, President, Owner, and CMO, and Trevor Bullock, CEO, about what they’d like to see, and then find the practical ways to implement that based on solid data.

The process is math and numbers-intensive, but that doesn’t scare Will away. To the contrary: he loves numbers and has an unquenchable curiosity about math. He started in pre-med but decided it wasn’t the right path. He once took an impromptu road trip from California and then to New York City; he ran out of savings, but he learned the importance of planning and financial responsibility from it. He started at Nebraska Wesleyan, transferred to Southeast Community College, and finished his degree from UNL in Business Management and is currently pursuing his advanced education in data science and analysis. Even while in school, Will worked 40 hours a week, often at Alivation Health (then Premier Psychiatric).

There’s an underlying motive to Will’s work: he’s always desired to do the most good with what he has. Having his own mental health challenges in the past, seeing the effects of bad care and trauma, and losing friends to suicide has driven him to find his niche. At Alivation Health, he’s part of something bigger, and has the passion and drive to serve the community he loves so much. He sees the positive effects the organization has on friends and family, and the way Lincoln is served by having compassionate, innovative care. It’s a moral imperative for him. On top of that, he loves working closely with his family.

When not engrossed in numbers, Will is often found biking one of Lincoln’s many excellent trails, or practicing meditation and yoga to increase his mindfulness. Though he loves the time he spends at work, he is always happy to go home to his wife Sadie and their dog. His favorite thing to do is listen to podcasts, usually about economics or brain health. It’s common to pass his office and see him with his headphones on, engrossed in Excel and learning from a Ted Talk at the same time. He’s a stickler for saving. Will remains mindful of his personal expenditures with the same diligence as his job. He now loves stability. You won’t find him suddenly taking a road trip to California with friends anymore—he’s learned since then. He now hunts for the best deal, plans months in advance, and is conscious of the expenditures.

An organization is only as good as its people, and Will goes above and beyond to ensure everyone is happy and paid (they go well together). He’s an integral part of what Alivation Health is, and what it can be for the community. He forecasts good things for the future, and thousands more coming through our doors for their Next Level.


Reporting Mental Health

A quick look through Google’s 2018 search trends yields interesting, if predictable, results.

Among the most searched were Anthony Bourdain, Kate Spade, and Mac Miller. It’s always easy to get morbid when reading the news and seeing a new celebrity has died, or in the case of Bourdain and Spade, that they’ve taken their own life. Mac Miller, still in his twenties, died from an accidental drug overdose. The debate between what is lurid or sensationalistic and what is factual reporting will not be solved here, but it’s still important to discuss the nature of framing mental illness and discussions around seeking help.

There’s always a rush to conspiracy in cases with any unanswered questions. To outside observers, Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain seemed rich and successful. Spade had a popular line of fashion accessories, and Bourdain, aside from being a well-known chef and television show host, was also a prolific writer of several books. He seemed always busy, jet setting around the world to exotic locales and dining with other wealthy famous people. How could someone like that ever contemplate suicide? Something seemed amiss.

At least, from a traditional point of view.

In the light of what we now know about mental health, neither case is particularly strange. As hard as it is to believe, even the rich and famous can have major depression. Pete Davidson, a current star on Saturday Night Live, has been very open about his ongoing mental health struggles over the years. These types of admissions go a long way in convincing people to look inward and talk about their own challenges. If there’s a silver lining to mass media reportage of mental health and celebrity suicide, it is certainly in the way it encourages people to question and think about the way their own psyches deal with potential disorders. Or in the way it gets us talking to each other at all.

Of course, there is and always has been plenty of so-called fake news out there, or less than reputable sources peddling wisdom. For the average person looking to understand what makes someone contemplate suicide, or the psychological challenges that allow a mindset like that to develop, distinguishing between real and fake can be exhausting. We’re inundated daily with gossip, innuendo, cherry-picked facts and outright lies. Alternative stories often sell better than the real thing, which makes the temptation to indulge in it no surprise. Media is a business.

So for the average person looking to understand—and from what Google tells us, it’s quite a few—what’s to be done? How do we make sense of something senseless? How do we talk about things that are so important and yet seem to lack a common language or understanding? We don’t give up, certainly, but neither can we trudge ahead with misconceptions and gossipy facts with only a side order of truth. Do we just turn on the TV and hope the pundit knows that they’re talking about?

We believe, as always, that the cure is education.

To understand the mechanisms behind not only suicide, but depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and a host of other psychological challenges, the trick is to learn as much as possible from reputable media sources. There’s Alivation, of course, and we’re happy to help. There’s also the Mayo Clinic resources, as well as WebMD. Johns Hopkins has a wonderful repository of articles and facts, all backed up by scientific studies and professionals trained in these disciplines. The Lancet, though often quite technical, also has great articles for a lay audience from time to time. The key is to seek out the purveyors of truth and then seek out even more sources to best be educated. Don’t settle for one source, use three; don’t take one person’s word for it, get a second opinion. If this sounds like a lot, just remember: it’s no more work than listening to the news disseminate information wrongly.

For everyone you care about with these challenges, education is important. Understanding is equally crucial. Gossip won’t work anymore. Use facts.

Keep searching.

The National Suicide Prevention Hotline is 1-800-273-8255. They are available 24 hours, every day.


The Differences Between Psychology and Psychiatry


We’ve heard these terms used interchangeably before, haven’t we? To most people, the difference between a psychologist and a psychiatrist is about the same as the difference between a turtle and a tortoise: we don’t know. However, just like those two animals (both reptiles, but in different classification families), the difference between psychology and psychiatry is well-known in the field, and an important distinction.

The biggest difference between psychologists and psychiatrists is the treatment of their patients.

Psychiatrists are medical doctors licensed to prescribe medications. Much of their time is medication management for treating their patients. Psychologists focus on psychotherapy, especially treating emotional and mental distress in their patients by using behavioral intervention rather than medication-based intervention. Psychologists are equipped to conduct psychologist tests to assess a patient’s mental state and help determine the most effective treatments.

Another difference between the two is in education. Psychiatrists spend four years at medical school, train in general medicine, and after they earn their MD they practice four years of residency in psychiatry. Psychologists obtain PhD or PsyD doctoral degrees, which take from four to six years. Psychologists study personality development, the history of and case studies about psychological disorders, and they conduct psychological research, whereas psychiatrists often practice their residencies in hospitals and psychiatric units. Their work ranges from behavior disorders to severe mental illness in adults and children.

The two professions are often integrated: after being referred by a primary physician, a patient may work with a psychologist to address mental or behavioral problems. If the problems are severe or lie outside the purview of the psychologist, they may refer this patient to the psychiatrist, who prescribes medication and monitors its management. Often, the psychologist and the psychiatrist work in tandem for their patients to pursue the best course of treatment.

At Alivation Health, we’re strong believers in the integrated model. We don’t like a patient coming to see us from a primary physician and then getting the runaround, or stopping in for help only to be told they have to go back to step two and try again, or that we aren’t equipped to help them when they need it most. Going in circles doesn’t help anyone conquer their psychological challenges. As a result, we employ both psychologists and psychiatrists on our team. We currently have two Psychologists (PsyD.) and a Board-Certified Psychiatrist: Dr. Walt Duffy, Owner, President, Chief Medical Officer – Board Certified in child, adolescent, and adult psychiatry. We have primary care physicians who can refer you for either or both, and they all work closely together to figure out the best course of treatment for you. There aren’t lost files, lots of trips around the city or state looking for the referral clinic, or confusion about what you need to do. You aren’t left in the dark or waiting on a callback from a provider. We make it all work in-house. With a pharmacy here, you don’t even need to leave to get the medications you’re prescribed.

So now that you can see the differences between psychologist and psychiatrist, you know they aren’t interchangeable, though they often do work closely together. For optimal mental health treatment, the best course of action is usually multiple points of view and different approaches working for the betterment of the individual. The brain is complicated, but integrated—and so should be the field that seeks to treat it. Next Level You is always possible with just the right combination.


National Brain Injury Awareness Month


March is National Brain Injury Awareness Month.

Our goal for this month is to improve awareness of brain injuries, their signs and symptoms, and to decrease stigma around them while educating the public. National Brain Injury Awareness Month has been observed since 1993, and we couldn’t be happier to help observe it and do our part to bring awareness to a cause we have championed for 20 years ourselves.

What causes Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)? The most common are car and vehicle accidents, sports or athletic injuries, falls, and other sudden blows to the head. Another category of non-traumatic brain injury includes internal injuries to the brain via disease, poisoning, stroke, or other medical conditions. National Brain Injury Awareness Month seeks to educate about both topics, and teach people the warning signs to look out for. They are, according to the Mayo Clinic:


  • Headache or a feeling of pressure in the head
  • Temporary loss of consciousness
  • Confusion or feeling as if in a fog
  • Amnesia surrounding the traumatic event
  • Dizziness or “seeing stars”
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Slurred speech
  • Delayed response to questions
  • Appearing dazed
  • Fatigue


In cases of possible TBI without overt symptoms, it’s important to get medically checked out and verified. Sometimes injuries are present without identifiers. Although concussions range in severity, they should always be medically dealt with as soon as possible. Many often do not seek help, believing they are fine, or downplaying any injury they might have.

At Alivation, we offer numerous ways of looking at the brain and ascertaining its health, ranging from our Brain Health Monitoring Program to primary care checkups and examinations to neurology. Our providers may ask you questions about the accident or trauma and your symptoms, or about your medical history and condition in the case of non-traumatic injury. Electroencephalograms (EEGs) may also be employed to detect changes in brain patterns. With our team of expert, educated professionals, we have what you need to get properly checked out and taken care of.

TBI and brain health are even more important for the elderly. Falls and accidents that may be minor for younger people can prove very damaging, and potentially fatal, for those 65 and older. For those who are suffering, or have suffered, a TBI event from domestic abuse, acting fast for the sake of your own health is just as crucial. Visit the National Domestic Violence Hotline webpage for information about signs, what to do, who to call, how to cope, and how best to move on:

So what can we do about brain injuries? How can people get involved?

The easiest way is to read about it, find the facts, and discuss it openly. Communicate with those who have suffered injuries and learn about the effects. Attend events. Donate and fundraise. Volunteer. Help decrease the stigma surrounding it by educating those who don’t understand or know nothing about it. Engage with those who are curious. Visit the Brain Injury Association of America’s webpage to learn, discuss, and find events to participate in: Spread the current social media hashtags, such as #BrainInjuryAwarenessMonth and #ChangeYourMind.

While brain injuries can be damaging and debilitating, the awareness and education around them can be positive and beneficial for all involved. Alivation, a leader in brain health, takes this mission very seriously, as we try to always educate people about what to look for and what they can expect from their care. There are answers, there is hope, and everyone has a purpose in the same campaign to raise awareness and social understanding of something more common than we often care to admit. Help us in this mission. Be part of the solution.