Neil Lacanale announced as the Employee of the Year

We at South Sound believe that our employees are our greatest asset. We are proud to announce the winner of the Employee of The Year Award for 2023. This amazing RN serves as one of our House Supervisors. It has been said that she is always willing to help anyone in need and always provides a positive, calm and respectful attitude no matter what the situation. She cares about our patients and always goes the extra mile for them. Her demeanor is as pleasant as her beautiful smile. Here she receives her award from CEO, Neil Lacanale. We are grateful to have such amazing caregivers at our hospital.

South Sound Behavioral Hospital Expands Services and Capacity


Hospital opening two units extending capacity to 138 beds

Lacey, WA, January 31, 2024 – With mental health and substance abuse at crisis levels in Washington, South Sound Behavioral Hospital has added 30 new inpatient beds to meet the need. As one of the largest freestanding psychiatric hospitals in Washington, South Sound Behavioral Hospital, now with 138 beds, will continue to offer a full continuum of behavioral services to patients of all ages.  

Centrally located in Thurston County, South Sound Behavioral Hospital opened in 2019 and treats over 5,000 patients each year. “We are excited to announce the expansion of services that will allow us to treat more patients,” said Neil Lacanlale, CEO of South Sound Behavioral Hospital. “South Sound Behavioral Hospital is dedicated to meeting the needs of our community by providing a full continuum of specialized services to all patients, regardless of ability to pay.”

The 30 new inpatient beds are located on the top floor in two distinct units. The new beds will allow South Sound Behavioral to treat more patients in specialized programs, including dual diagnosis, detoxification, adolescent, women’s, and adult programs. South Sound is also expanding day hospital programming to strengthen the continuum of care with intensive outpatient programs for chemical dependency, trauma-focused, dual diagnosis and adolescent populations.  

South Sound Behavioral Hospital offers assessments free of charge, and individuals can be admitted directly into the programs or referred. Information is available 24 hours a day / 7 days a week at (844) 949-8888.

About South Sound Behavioral Hospital
South Sound Behavioral Hospital’s mission is to provide outstanding care, compassionate people, and unparalleled service, offering a full continuum of inpatient and outpatient mental health and substance abuse treatment to patients in Washington. The state-of-the-art, 138-bed hospital provides specialized, evidence-based behavioral health and substance use disorder treatment. For more information, please visit

Neil Lacanlale
Chief Executive Officer

May is Mental Health Month

Mental Health Month image

May is Mental Health Month, a time dedicated to raising awareness and reducing stigma around mental health issues. Mental health is essential to our overall well-being, yet it is often overlooked or ignored.

Mental Health Month aims to increase understanding and promote the importance of good mental health. Mental health is a crucial component of our physical health, and both are equally important. Mental health includes emotional, psychological, and social well-being, and it affects how we think, feel, and act, and impacts our relationships, works, and daily life.

Mental health issues can affect anyone, regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, or socio-economic status. Mental illnesses are common, and it is estimated that one in five people experience a mental health problem in any given year. Despite the prevalence of mental health issues, stigma and discrimination around mental illness remain significant barriers to seeking help.

Mental Health Month provides an opportunity to address these issues and raise awareness about the importance of good mental health. It is a time to promote access to mental health care and support, reduce stigma and discrimination, and encourage open dialogue about mental health issues.

You can support mental health awareness in many ways during Mental Health Month. Some ideas include:

  1. Educate yourself about mental health: Learn about the signs and symptoms of mental illness and the different types of mental health conditions.
  2. Talk about mental health: Talk with your friends, family, or colleagues. Share your experiences or encourage someone to seek help if they are struggling.
  3. Support mental health organizations: Many organizations support mental health awareness and provide resources for those in need. Consider donating or volunteering to help with their work.
  4. Take care of your mental health: Practice self-care and prioritize your mental health. This could include meditation, exercise, therapy, or spending time in nature.
  5. Advocate for mental health: Speak out about the importance of mental health and advocate for policies that support mental health care and resources.

Mental Health Month is a reminder that mental health is just as important as physical health. It is an opportunity to break down barriers and reduce the stigma around mental health issues. Let us use this month to raise awareness, promote access to mental health care, and support those struggling. Together, we can create a more inclusive and supportive community for everyone.

April is Alcohol Awareness Month

different alcoholic drinks in the shape of a head

April is Alcohol Awareness Month, an opportunity to increase awareness and understanding of the dangers of alcohol abuse and addiction. In this blog, we will explore the impact of alcohol on our health, relationships, and society, as well as provide tips for reducing alcohol consumption and seeking help for addiction.

The Impact of Alcohol:

Alcohol is one of the most widely used and abused substances globally. While moderate alcohol consumption is generally safe for adults, excessive drinking can have serious health consequences.

Some of the most common impacts of alcohol abuse include the following:

  1. Health Problems: Chronic alcohol abuse can lead to liver disease, heart disease, and certain cancers. It can also increase the risk of accidents, injuries, and violence.
  2. Mental Health: Excessive alcohol consumption can lead to depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues.
  3. Relationships: Alcohol abuse can strain relationships with family and friends, leading to conflict and isolation.
  4. Society: Alcohol abuse significantly contributes to crime, domestic violence, and social problems.

Tips for Reducing Alcohol Consumption:

Reducing alcohol consumption can be challenging, especially for those with addiction issues. However, there are steps that individuals can take to reduce their alcohol consumption and improve their overall health and well-being. Some tips for reducing alcohol consumption include:

  1. Set Goals: Set realistic goals for reducing alcohol consumption and track progress over time.
  2. Find Alternatives: Replace alcohol with non-alcoholic beverages like water or herbal tea.
  3. Avoid Triggers: Identify triggers for drinking and avoid situations where alcohol consumption is expected or encouraged.
  4. Seek Support: Seek support from friends, family members, or a therapist to help reduce alcohol consumption.

Seeking Help for Addiction:

For those struggling with alcohol addiction, seeking help is essential. There are a variety of treatment options available, including:

  1. Detoxification: Detoxification is the first step in treating alcohol addiction and involves ridding the body of alcohol.
  2. Counseling: Counseling can help individuals identify triggers for drinking and develop coping strategies for avoiding alcohol.
  3. Medication: Medications can help reduce alcohol cravings and alleviate withdrawal symptoms.
  4. Support Groups: Support groups, such as Alcoholics Anonymous, provide peer support and guidance for those in recovery.

Alcohol Awareness Month is an important reminder of the dangers of alcohol abuse and addiction. By increasing awareness and understanding of the impact of alcohol on our health and relationships, providing tips for reducing alcohol consumption, and seeking help for addiction, we can work towards a healthier, safer society for all.

April is Stress Awareness Month

Man massaging his head

April is Stress Awareness Month, which aims to bring attention to the impact of stress on our daily lives and encourage people to take action to manage stress in healthy ways.

Stress is a natural response to challenging or threatening situations, but chronic or prolonged stress can negatively affect physical and mental health. It can lead to anxiety, depression, high blood pressure, heart disease, and other health problems.

The COVID-19 pandemic has increased stress levels for many people, from concerns about health and safety to financial instability and social isolation. Recognizing that everyone experiences stress differently and finding healthy ways to cope is essential.

Causes of stress:

Various factors, including work, relationships, finances, and health issues, can cause stress. Familiar sources of focus include:

  • Work: Long hours, high workloads, and job insecurity can contribute to work-related stress.
  • Relationships: Conflicts with friends, family members, or romantic partners can cause anxiety.
  • Finances: Money worries, debt, and unemployment can all be sources of stress.
  • Health issues: Chronic health conditions, illness, and injury can cause stress.

Effects of stress:

Stress can have various adverse effects on our physical and mental health. Some of the most common products of focus include the following:

  • Anxiety and depression: Chronic stress can lead to anxiety and depression, which can in turn, exacerbate stress levels.
  • Heart disease: Chronic stress can increase the risk of heart disease by raising blood pressure and contributing to plaque buildup in the arteries.
  • Digestive problems: Stress can cause digestive issues such as stomach aches, diarrhea, and constipation.
  • Insomnia: Stress can interfere with sleep, leading to insomnia and other sleep disorders.

Several strategies can help reduce stress, such as exercise, mindfulness meditation, getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, and staying connected with friends and family. It’s also important to set boundaries, prioritize self-care, and seek support when needed.

Stress Awareness Month is a reminder to prioritize our mental health and take steps to manage stress in healthy ways. Doing so can improve our well-being and lead happier, more fulfilling lives.

Nutrition & Your Mental Health

The blog graphic for March Nutrient

National Nutrition Month, which takes place in March, emphasizes the value of making informed food decisions and forming wholesome eating routines. Although many individuals only think of their physical health when they think of diet, our mental health also depends on it. What we eat can significantly affect how we feel, how much energy we have, and how mentally healthy we are.

So, what are a few ways that nutrition may impact your mental health?

  1. Sleep: Consuming a diet high in sugar and caffeine can disrupt sleep patterns, leading to fatigue and irritability. Consuming a diet high in whole and low in processed foods can help improve sleep quality and promote overall well-being.
  2. Gut Health: A growing body of research suggests a link between gut health and mental health. Consuming a diet rich in fiber and fermented foods can promote a healthy gut microbiome and may help alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression.
  3. Inflammation: Chronic inflammation may occur due to various mental health disorders, including depression and anxiety. Consuming a diet high in processed foods and saturated fats can contribute to inflammation. In contrast, a diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods, such as fruits, vegetables, and fatty fish, can help reduce inflammation and promote mental well-being.
  4. Hydration: Dehydration can cause fatigue, mood swings, and cognitive impairment. Consuming adequate water and other hydrating fluids can help keep you alert, focused, and in a better mood.
  5. Eating B vitamins: If you consume less B vitamins, it could negatively influence your memory function and cause cognitive impairment and dementia. B vitamins are essential for brain function and can be found in whole grains, leafy greens, and lean proteins. B vitamins have been linked to improved mood and cognitive function.

Nutrition plays a vital role in our mental health. Making informed food choices and developing healthy eating habits can help improve our mood, energy levels, and overall mental well-being. This National Nutrition Month, commit to prioritizing your nutrition and taking the first step towards a healthier mind and body!

Celebrating Women’s History Month

Women's History Month image

March is Women’s History Month, a time to celebrate the accomplishments and contributions of women throughout history. While it’s important to recognize and honor the achievements of women, it’s also essential to prioritize our mental health, especially during this month. Women often take on multiple roles and responsibilities, leading to stress, burnout, and other mental health challenges.

Here are some tips for celebrating Women’s History Month while prioritizing your mental health:

  1. Practice self-care: Self-care is crucial for preserving healthy mental health; therefore, practice it. Spend time doing the activities you want to do, making you feel calm and refreshed. You can take a long bath, go to the spa, or walk outdoors. Whatever it may be, make sure it makes you feel happy.
  2. Connect with other females: Women can often rely on one another for support and strength. Spend some time getting to know the other women in your life, whether through a book club, support group, or just a simple coffee date. Speaking with other women who have gone through similar things and face similar struggles might make you feel less alone and more in control.
  3. Celebrate your accomplishments: It’s easy to focus on the achievements of others, but it’s important to celebrate your own as well. Take the time to reflect on your successes, no matter how small they may seem. Acknowledge your hard work and give yourself credit for your accomplishments.
  4. Learn about women’s mental health: Women’s mental health is a complex and important topic that often goes overlooked. Take the time to educate yourself about the unique mental health challenges women face, such as postpartum depression, hormonal imbalances, and trauma. Understanding these issues can help you better support yourself and other women.
  5. Practice mindfulness: Mindfulness is a practice that involves being present at the moment and paying attention to your thoughts and feelings without judgment. It can be a powerful tool for managing stress and improving mental health. Try incorporating mindfulness practices into your daily routine, such as meditation, yoga, or deep breathing exercises.
  6. Seek professional help: If you’re struggling with your mental health, don’t hesitate to seek professional help. Therapy and counseling can benefit women experiencing stress, anxiety, or other mental health challenges. Remember that seeking help is a sign of strength, not weakness.

Women’s History Month is an occasion to honor the efforts and accomplishments of women throughout history, but it’s also a moment to give special attention to our mental health. We can be mindful that we’re taking care of ourselves while respecting the heritage of women who came before us by engaging with other women, celebrating our accomplishments, learning about women’s mental health, engaging in mindfulness practices, and seeking professional help when necessary.

Balancing Your Mental Health and Work

Have you experienced burnout, overwhelm, and gotten to the point of not feeling you’re at your best? We’ve all been there — but it’s important to understand why balancing both your mental health and work is important, especially with the upcoming holidays.

To begin, you must value yourself more than anything else. Make sure that you are aware of your own stressors and identify when you start to notice them creep up. Incorporate time for yourself daily, monthly, and yearly, so you are getting the balance you need. While that can be easier said than done this time of year, it’s essential to prioritize yourself, too!

The need to reset is a real thing, and at some point, you just need to retreat and spend time connecting with yourself. It will be a benefit to you and your loved ones.

Resetting is important because you can focus and be more productive when you have a clear mental space, are present, and not stressing about other aspects of your life. When your mind is clear, you are more intentional about what’s in front of you.

While it can be tough to set boundaries at work, here are some things you can do to make it easier:

  1. Get yourself organized and use time blocking. Determine your daily goals and then plan and map out your responsibilities. It lets you know how much wiggle room and bandwidth you have to take on more. If you are organized and in control of your day by using time management tactics, it allows you to be realistic about what you have going on and what else you can take on.
  2. It’s okay to say no. If you have too much, that is when things become overwhelming, and things slip through the cracks.

While you can get things done well and quickly, sometimes you are given more work. Be transparent about what’s currently on your plate and offer alternative times that you can be available to help. If you are always saying yes or being available, you are taking on more pressure and doing too much. It’s important to set the boundaries early on and give alternative times for when you can assist.

This holiday season, be intentional about balancing your mental health and self-care priorities!

Healing Through the Arts

Did you know that using art as a coping tool is found to be especially helpful for individuals who struggle with self-harm or chronic depression and anxiety?

What is art therapy and how can it help? Art therapy is a complementary form of therapy that assists in a therapeutic outcome to grow in expression and communication. Art therapy along with medication management is a well-rounded treatment option that stabilizes compliancy.

What you should know about art therapy is:

  • No experience is necessary to participate.
  • It’s judgment free
  • It’s a form of expression.
  • It helps with depression and anxiety.

Art therapy allows for creativity, expression, and an avenue to explore. When overwhelmed with anxiety and fear, art therapy permits you the freedom to be guided through your thoughts, allowing engagement, whereas, through talk therapy, you may remain reluctant to talk. Art provides an area to vent fears and deeper thoughts in a relaxed state of being. Thus, significantly improving the mood and reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Many people search for alternative methods of treatment that coincide with medication management or management of a mental illness in general. Art therapy fits the bill in many areas for those on a quest for whole health and well-being.

Boost Your Self-Esteem

How is self-esteem a major role player in mental health? Self-esteem has a connection to every part of a person’s life. It can affect a person’s relationship, career, and health. If you find yourself in a rut with low self-esteem, reassess your situation to verify where you can start regaining a positive self-esteem boost.

Here are some helpful ways to boost your self-esteem:

  1. Pinpoint circumstances or conditions that pull down your self-esteem.
  2. Once you identify those circumstances, pay close attention to your feelings; you may feel positive, negative, or even neutral. The idea is to ensure honesty with yourself.
  3. Because you are assessing your thought process, this may be the opportunity to challenge the way you’re thinking. Here are some patterns that may lower your self-esteem:
    1. Changing positives into negatives.
    2. “If” thought process that dumps you in a negative light.
    3. Dwelling on the negative for long periods.
    4. Jumping to negative conclusions.
    5. Using your feelings as a fact.
    6. Downing and doubting yourself.
  4. Create more constructive and positive self-thoughts.

Take these four steps to boost your self-esteem for the better. It can make your relationships, career, and health positively smoother and elevate your mental health.

These steps are evidence-based, CBT – Cognitive Behavioral Therapy techniques utilized at South Sound Behavioral Hospital, a safe place where we are serving people, empowering people, and inspiring hope.