Expert voices

Many different kinds of professionals can help with mental health concerns, including licensed psychologists, psychiatrists, licensed clinical social workers and primary care providers. Get to know the team of local mental health experts who volunteered their insights for Know Your Mind.

Monica Campbell, PhD

Monica Campbell, PsyD, has over 15 years of experience working with diverse clients and explains how to recognize anxiety and depression — and when they need to be treated — with ease. She is also comfortable talking about the mental health challenges facing the Black community and thinks that self-care is one of the most valuable skills a campaign could offer: "we have to teach people how to pull out all of their coping skills right now. There are many things we can do to care for ourselves that the research supports." Dr. Campbell also has many years of experience teaching the DSM-5 (a common mental health diagnostic tool) to graduate students, treats veterans through the VA, and runs frequent corporate self-care and mental wellness workshops.

Topics:

  • Self-care, including self-care for Black people
  • Recognizing depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts
  • Talking to your primary care provider about mental health
  • Confronting stigma about seeking care



Rodrigo Cerdá, MD, MPH

Rodrigo Cerdá, MD, is Vice President of Clinical Care Transformation at Independence Blue Cross where he works on collaborative approaches to bring health insurers, hospitals, and doctors together to improve access to well-coordinated, high-quality, and affordable health care for Independence members.

Dr. Cerdá previously served as Managing Director for Integrated Health Services at PA Consulting and Aetna International to deliver innovative population health management services in the United Kingdom in partnership with the National Health Service. He also has experience in clinical care and health services research in the United States, United Kingdom, Brazil, Peru, and Botswana.

Dr. Cerdá completed his medical degree at the University of Pennsylvania, his residency in internal medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital, his master’s in public health at Harvard, and his bachelor’s degree at Yale. Dr. Cerdá is a diplomate of the American Board of Internal Medicine.




Tamar Chansky, PhD

Tamar Chansky, PsyD, is a well-known author and therapist whose practice focuses on overcoming anxiety. She is a frequent media commentator and blogger and believes that the best medium to reach people right now are short videos, "so that we have an empathic connection. We are not seeing each other’s faces enough, and it makes us feel alienated." Dr. Chansky feels that producing content for specific demographic groups is important right now, because everyone is facing different challenges right now. "People need to see that their experiences are understood," she says. "They need to see faces and to see what resilience looks like. It’s important to acknowledge what’s happening, but also to remind people that it is not always going to be like this."

Topics:

  • Quick strategies for recognizing and coping with anxiety
  • Grief during COVID
  • Parenting during COVID
  • How to practice safe optimism
  • In defense of joy and sorrow
  • Empathy



Suzanne ChuChian Chong, PhD

Born and raised in culturally diverse Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Suzanne ChuChian Chong, PhD, is a staff psychologist at Ursinus College and is fluent in English, Malay, and Cantonese. Dr. Chong uses her familiarity with immigration and acculturative processes in her professional work with culturally informed practices that have an emphasis on social justice. Her work in trauma-informed outreach programs for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault has led her to conceptualize concerns related to stress, anxiety and depression, as closely intertwined with unresolved trauma, interpersonal relationship dissatisfaction, and ineffectual coping strategies.

Topics:

  • Issues of college students and young adults in the pandemic
  • Coping with social isolation
  • Confronting stigma about seeking care among immigrant groups
  • Mental health challenges of the "1.5" generation (children of immigrants)
  • Stress related to racism



K. Ryan Connolly, MD, MS

K. Ryan Connolly MD, MS, is a psychiatrist and behavioral health Medical Director at Independence Blue Cross. He is also a Clinical Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine. Dr. Connolly has worked to improve mental health at the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Philadelphia Department of Behavioral Health, and has published on the subject of improving outcomes in depression treatment. Dr. Connolly has received degrees from the John's Hopkins University, Georgetown University, and Temple University, and completed his residency training at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.

Topics:

  • How to talk to your health care provider about mental health
  • Recognizing common mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety
  • Treating depression and anxiety
  • Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)



Thea Gallagher, PsyD

Thea Gallagher, PsyD, is an Assistant Professor and the Director of Outpatient Clinic at the Center for the Treatment and Study of Anxiety (CTSA) in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Gallagher completed her PsyD in clinical psychology at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. Dr. Gallagher joined the CTSA in 2014 after the completion of her clinical internship at Holcomb Behavioral Health Systems. At the CTSA, Dr. Gallagher currently coordinates the OCD treatment study, and is a study therapist. Dr. Gallagher also serves as the CTSA media coordinator. Clinically, Dr. Gallagher specializes in prolonged exposure therapy (PE) for PTSD, Exposure and Response (Ritual) Prevention (EX/RP) for OCD, and cognitive-behavioral treatments for social anxiety, panic disorder, specific phobias, and generalized anxiety.

Topics:

  • Anxiety and OCD
  • Issues of millennials (parenting, work, stress/anxiety)
  • Mental health needs of health care providers during COVID
  • Making mental health research news accessible for the public
  • Sports psychology (therapist for 76ers and NHL), sports fan anxiety



Patricia Guerra-Garcia, MD, FACP, CHIE

Patricia Guerra-Garcia, MD, is a board-certified internal medicine physician and Vice President, Medical Management and Medical Policy at Independence Blue Cross. She is a Fellow of the American College of Physicians and Executive Leader Fellow of the American Health Insurance Plans. In her role at Independence, she leads medical management operations, collaborates with local physicians to ensure that members receive high quality evidence based care, and provides community outreach to educate the community in various health topics. Dr. Guerra-Garcia is originally from Lima, Peru. She completed her training in internal medicine and fellowship training in general internal medicine at Henry Ford Hospital.




Nuria Lopez-Pajares, MD

Nuria Lopez-Pajares, MD, is a Medical Director at Independence Blue Cross where she conducts member case management, quality improvement and educational projects. Prior to joining Independence in 2018, she served as an attending physician for Temple Physicians in North Philadelphia and as a health educator and public health consultant through Congreso, Norris Square and other organizations. Dr. Lopez-Pajares earned her medical degree in Spain and completed a fellowship in tropical medicine in Belgium. She completed a residency in preventive medicine and a master’s degree in public health at Saint Louis University, Missouri.




Luis Ramírez, DSW, LCSW

Luis Ramírez, DSW, LCSW, (They/Them/Ellxs), a.k.a. Dr. Queerness, is a Latinx gender queer psychotherapist and Executive Director of Ramírez Psychotherapy in Philadelphia. Dr. Ramirez provides individual, couples and family therapy and queer affirmative clinical supervision, and is on the faculty of the Institute for Relational Psychoanalysis in Philadelphia.

Dr. Ramirez holds a Doctorate in clinical social work from the University of Pennsylvania and a master’s degree in social work from Columbia University. They interned with the Social Work and Diversity Program at the Ackerman Institute for the Family, and served as a doctoral fellow with the Minority Fellow Program of the Council on Social Work Education.

Topics:

  • Mental health challenges faced by gender non-conforming individuals
  • Mental health challenges faced by immigrants
  • Effects of technology on millennial mental health
  • How traumatic events such as a pandemic trigger memories of past traumatic events