Mental health is just as essential to complete wellness as physical health. NorthShore Health Centers understands this fact, and providers like Board-Certified Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Roshanda Grayson-Thomas ensure that their patients receive high-quality, mental healthcare regardless of their ability to pay.
Grayson-Thomas is a healthcare industry veteran with around two decades of experience in nursing as an assistant, licensed practical nurse, and registered nurse in fields ranging from long-term care to behavioral health. Her guiding motivator has always been her passion for helping people.
“In high school, I’d volunteer in soup kitchens during holidays and help the Delta Sigma Theta sorority with gifts for those in low-income families,” Grayson-Thomas said. “I felt like I needed to be in a place to help others who were suffering. I’d see elderly people not having food or kids not having Christmas because of things that happened in their past. I’d talk to them about their experiences, and they’d tell me about their problems at home.”
Those conversations sparked Grayson-Thomas’s early interest in mental health, but she did not have an education to pursue it at the time. Instead, she followed a passion she’d developed for nursing that grew after helping a close friend, who later became her husband. After a traumatic injury where doctors told him that he would not have use of his legs, Grayson-Thomas stepped in combined with time in physical therapy and helped him to gain the strength to walk again.
“He was in a really bad motorcycle accident and was told he’d never be able to walk again,” Grayson-Thomas said. “I was in high school and after school, I’d go to his house and help with feeding and bathing him. I’d do CNA work like helping him relearn how to walk. One day, I thought, ‘Maybe I should do this for work.’”
She took action, spending years in long-term care supporting the geriatric population and continued to further her education. Eventually, her early interest in mental health blossomed into something more – culminating in her completing her studies to become a psychiatric nurse practitioner.
“I wanted to know what people did in their younger years that impacts their illness as geriatrics. Some of the geriatrics suffered from depression,” Grayson-Thomas said. “A lot of times, clients do not know why they are feeling the way they do. Sometimes, letting things out and recalling the events that took place can help those who are suffering with depression or anxiety understand the contributing factors to their feelings. With the understanding of why an individual is feeling a certain way, the client can seek and receive the care needed to live a more productive life.”
Grayson-Thomas is excited to join the team at NorthShore as she greatly admired their work during her long career in Region healthcare. She loved NorthShore’s mission-driven approach that guarantees quality care regardless of people’s ability to pay or their insurance status, something she sees as particularly important for mental health.
“Many individuals who are experiencing mental health difficulties can’t afford to seek healthcare,” Grayson-Thomas said. “With NorthShore having the ability to accept patients regardless of their ability to pay, those people can get the assistance they need in order to live happier, productive lives without the stigmas of their illness.”
Every day, Grayson-Thomas gets to make a difference in someone’s life through conversation and education.
“I really enjoy talking with individuals and discovering what’s causing a patient’s mental distress,” Grayson-Thomas said. “I take pride in my assessment skills and ability to pull things out of the patients and help them understand what they’re feeling, why they’re feeling certain things, and develop a treatment plan to defer the unwanted feelings.”
To learn more about NorthShore Health Centers, visit northshorehealth.org.