I was talking on the phone with my husband Matthew a few weeks ago when I read these words to him, “I’m pleased to tell you that you have been selected to receive the Arizona Psychiatric Society’s Mental Health Public Service Award for 2022.” Gazing on this message from Dr. Gretchen Alexander, I was stunned.

On Saturday, June 18, my husband accompanied me to the Arizona Psychiatric Society’s Annual Meeting in Chandler. We were graciously invited to attend lectures, enjoy a delicious lunch, and accept this award. I was able to hear legislative updates and mingle with some of my favorite psychiatrists that I’ve been privileged to meet over the years. This included my son’s current psychiatrist and his very first psychiatrist. What a joy for us to be able to say, “thank you” to him and share a brief update on our son’s good outcome.

I, alongside of my husband, never set out on this journey with the desire to win an award. To be quite honest, it’s difficult to share that we even received this. It feels a bit awkward. Yet, we want our supporters to know that this would not have been possible without YOUR partnership. You have invested in this cause, some of you for many years, with a heart of compassion and trust. We do not take that for granted, so we share this award with YOU!

The following is an excerpt from the Arizona Psychiatric Society’s Annual Meeting Program. We want to thank the APS for acknowledging our work, we are deeply honored to receive this award from such a distinguished and respected medical field. I wish to specifically thank Dr. Gretchen Alexander for nominating me and recognizing P82 Homes:

The Mental Health Public Service Award was established in 2021 to recognize a member of the
community that has:
• Made a significant contribution to the mental health community, such as
ensuring access to quality services for individuals with mental illness in the State of
• Contributed significantly to advocacy work on behalf of consumers, the field of
mental health, and the medical profession in the State of Arizona.
• Played a material role in the delivery of programs or reforms promoting mental
health in the State of Arizona.
• Made material impact to mental health through political action on behalf of
psychiatric physicians, their patients, and the community in the State of Arizona.
The first recipient of the Mental Health Public Service Award was Joseph F. Abate, Esq. in 2021.

About Mrs. Geesling:
Deborah Geesling co-founded P82 Project Restoration in 2015 with the dream of opening
homes for those with Serious Mental Illness (SMI). This vision to provide mental health care for
those suffering from SMI involved including their families, existing social networks, churches,
etc. rather than separating them.

As the Geeslings navigated the mental health care system to find the best possible care for their son, P82 Homes was birthed to provide hope, assistance, and information to other families.

The Geeslings have met countless families over the years who have experienced the despair,
confusion, and pain that come from parenting a child suffering from SMI while simultaneously
navigating a mental health care system that often unintentionally separates children from their
parents and supportive family structures. They have seen hope and healing result from these
connections time and time again.

The Geeslings believe strong partnerships between families, the mental health care system, and faith-based communities are essential ingredients for long term success to care for those
recovering from SMI.

Mrs. Geesling lives in Phoenix, AZ and serves families and health care providers across the
state. Deborah is the former Chair of the East Valley Behavioral Health Coalition and is a
founding member of The Association for the Chronically Mentally Ill (ACMI).

When Deborah began to experience the effects of Serious Mental Illness (SMI) in one of her
own children, she took courageous “Momma Bear” action to love her son and navigate a
mental health care system that traditionally separated families and left the mentally ill
vulnerable to sexual abuse, homelessness, and drug addiction.

As Deborah’s journey with her own son, now in recovery from mental illness, unfolded, she
discovered ways to bring practical HOPE for families affected by the mental illness of a child
that have amplified her voice across America.

By learning ways to navigate the mental health care system and advocate for holistic care and
family involvement in the journey of a child’s mental illness, Deborah’s voice has been heard
nationwide. She is now an advocate and trusted resource for parents across America who have
a child suffering from mental illness. She has been mentioned in several publications for her
advocacy and support of those with SMI.

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