Veteran of mental health care services named CEO of Valley Oaks Health

LAFAYETTE, Ind. — A new CEO and president has been named for Valley Oaks Health, the Lafayette mental health and addiction comprehensive care center that serves nine Hoosier counties.

This designated community mental health center provides mental health care regardless of insured status or age, as it has multiple child-focused therapies.

Earlier this year, Dan Arens, the chief operating officer for a similar organization, Adult & Child Health in Indianapolis, was named to be the next president and CEO of Valley Oaks Health. Arens has over 25 years of experience in the mental health care field, and looks forward to assuming his roles as president and CEO for Valley Oaks Health on Sept. 1.

“This has been kind of a life-long goal or dream of mine,” Arens said, “to get to the place where I can run along with a really good executive team that, for the most part, (is) already in place at Valley. So it’s been a 25-year thing in the works. It was pretty exciting to achieve that.”

Arens went on to say why he is looking forward to continuing his career at Valley Oaks Health in particular; due in-part to its dedication to diversity and patient care.

“I think (Valley Oaks Health is special due to) the caring people, honestly,” Arens said. “I haven’t met everybody yet certainly, but from the board to the executive team to some of the frontline staff I’ve interacted with, Valley has a culture of inclusion – a culture of really caring about the patient – that I haven’ t seen in every mental health center and in the industry.

“There’s just this drive. And it’s probably cliché, right? I think every company thinks their people care the most but, I’ve been part of many mental health centers and I really was taken back by the people who I interacted with at Valley …”

As far as future plans for Valley Oaks Health, expanded access to a broader range of services is one of the main goals.

“At Valley, just like at every other mental health center,” Arens said, “we certainly want to increase access. (Make) it easier and quicker for people who need care to get access to whatever level of care they need.”

Arens explained that peer-coaches, group sessions for afflictions such as depression, education on psychiatric services and low-income housing support are part of the prospective expansions.

When asked the one thing he would like readers to know about Valley Oaks Health, Arens mentioned the importance of receiving mental health care and maintaining it when it’s needed, especially due to its importance for overall healthy bodies.

“I think the No. 1 thing is people need to know that people recover from mental illness everyday,” Arens said. “It’s not a life-sentence diagnosis. It’s something that, often times, people experience depression and anxiety, addiction, that kind of thing, that people can, with the right help that Valley provides, can recover and live happy, healthy lives.

“…Without mental health, there is no health.”

Margaret Christopherson is a reporter for the Journal & Courier. Email her at and follow her on Twitter @MargaretJC2.

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