The hardest step on the path to recovery is first asking for help

The Q&A below is transcribed from a phone interview with Diane Ferreira, Director of Patient Assessment Services at Butler Hospital, for Honest Conversations.

What happens in Patient Assessment Services?

At Butler, our department manages the entire admission process for patients, which is really the first point of contact a lot of patients have with us. Usually, that means that they’re in acute crisis and may have called up the Call Center, looking for help, and the Call Center invites them in for an evaluation. When a patient first comes in, we help them understand that they’re in a safe place, that we’re going to help them, that their situation isn’t hopeless, that we’re going to manage the acute crisis, and help them with a plan. Sometimes, that might mean they need to come into the hospital; sometimes it means they don’t need hospitalization but, instead, a partial hospital program or an outpatient program would be more appropriate. So, we’re helping to guide them and get them the help they need.

What message do you have for people suffering with mental illness?

Often the hardest step is asking for help. Once you take that initial step, we’re here to help on your journey to recovery. Sometimes it takes more than one hospitalization; sometimes it takes several courses of treatment before you’re on the road to continued recovery. That’s ok; that’s part of the journey, and it means being able to accept that and rely on people, and understand that it’s not hopeless. Just because you need a little more help, it’s not hopeless and you shouldn’t give up. If people get the message that they shouldn’t feel ashamed, and they feel accepted, then it makes it easier to get treatment.

What gives you hope?

What keeps me hopeful is that I see people get better every day. I see people who come in in acute crisis, and leave in a better place with a plan for recovery and wellness. I always tell patients that this is just one step along the journey. A lot of recovery happens after you leave the hospital, and having the transition plan and the support in the community is key to continuing to recover.

When did you know you wanted to work in psychiatry?

I always knew through my clinical rotations in nursing school that this was something that I wanted to do. Because it’s a disease that you can’t see, like a broken leg or diabetes, it is actually more challenging to treat. It’s a sort of calling, in terms of wanting to help people who are in crisis.

What does the future hold?

We’re constantly looking at the needs of the community and growing programs. We started an ambulatory detox program for patients who don’t need inpatient detox, and that’s a great additional option for folks.

How can people get help?

With our central Call Center, there’s one phone number for people to call: 1 (844) 401-1110. Our Call Center has access to all of the services within Care New England, so we can point people in the right direction and start them in the right program. So, based on the individual, they might need an inpatient program, a partial hospital program, or they might need outpatient appointments. We’ll be able to slot people into these programs and when the patient’s ready for treatment, we’ll be ready to give them the services they need at the right time in a quick manner.

Butler Hospital’s Programs and Services

Butler Hospital is Rhode Island’s psychiatric hospital focused on treatments, teaching and research for behavioral health. Learn about our inpatient, outpatient and partial hospital programs.

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Butler Hospital

Diane Ferreira

Director of Patient Assessment Services at Butler Hospital


Charged with managing one of the busiest areas of the hospital, Diane balances the need to operate Patient Assessment Services in a safe, efficient manner with the importance of maintaining compassion and empathy for each individual patient. At the core of Diane’s expertise and insight are her years of work as a nurse, as well as her experience leading the Butler’s Social Services Department. As a leader and mentor, Diane shares her depth of institutional knowledge, intimate understanding of the patient population, and inherent clinical aptitude.
Do you need help now? The Care New England Behavioral Health Services Call Center is available 24/7 at 1 (844) 401-0111 or view our services online.