This week, U.S. Pain Foundation welcomes Melissa Geraghty, PsyD (Dr. G), to its team as the organization’s new Director of Mental Health and Support.
In this role, Dr. G will oversee and expand U.S. Pain’s Pain Connection peer-to-peer support groups — a wide range of national, location-based, and specialized groups offering understanding and education to all individuals living with chronic pain. She also will serve as a voice to create a greater national understanding of mental health issues related to living with chronic conditions and serious injuries that cause pain — amplifying those issues and promoting mental health resources available to those living with chronic pain.
Dr. G has been an active U.S. Pain volunteer for years, and is a huge advocate and voice in the pain community.
As a licensed clinical health psychologist, an international speaker, and a person living with multiple chronic pain and rare conditions, Dr. G joins the U.S. Pain team not only with over a decade of experience in practice, but also lived experiences. She also is a Stanford-trained Empowered Relief™ instructor, medical gaslighting sensitivity trainer, and mental health consultant.
In addition to her role with U.S. Pain, she is also the CEO of Phoenix Rising with Dr. G. In her private practice, she focuses on nurturing patients’ mental health, teaching self-management tools, and developing resilience. Through her career, she has practiced in various settings, including outpatient, inpatient, residential, and hospital. Her work covers a variety of clinical areas, including chronic pain, chronic illness, rare disease, complex medical conditions, eating disorders, body image, self-injury, and bereavement. She has led numerous support groups throughout her career.
“Dr. G’s lifelong experience as a complex medical and rare disease patient uniquely informs her perspective and commitment to patient advocacy,” says Nicole Hemmenway, CEO of U.S. Pain Foundation. “That experience makes her a more compassionate advocate. Addressing the tie between chronic pain and mental health is a cornerstone of our organization, and we are so excited to have Dr. G as a member of our team.”
Get to know Dr. G better with this Q-and-A:
Q: Can you discuss your passion for the intersection between chronic pain and mental health, and the importance of acknowledging and addressing mental health for those living with chronic pain?
A: My passion for the intersection between chronic pain and mental health started when I was just a child. Growing up with an undiagnosed rare disease and a collection of symptoms resulted in a lot of medical gaslighting. While I didn’t have the word for it back then or an advocate voice, I do now. Medical gaslighting invalidates a person’s experiences and very being, so much so that it can make them question if their pain is indeed “all in their head.” It’s my goal that people with chronic pain feel heard, validated, and not alone. Having chronic pain absolutely impacts mental health. There is no way around that. However, people can be met with dignity, respect, and support.
Q: Why is peer-to-peer support so important when dealing with chronic pain and mental health?
A: Peer-to-peer support is crucial when dealing with mental health and chronic pain because it gives us an opportunity to grow and connect with people who get it. Oftentimes, we put on a mask as we go about each day in an effort to get things done despite the amount of pain and symptoms we are living with. Having peer support allows us to lower that mask and be vulnerable, genuine, and accepted as we are.
Q: What is something interesting about you that people might not know?
A: I have a pack of three energetic pups! Cinnamon Sugar & Spice, Queen Cirilla of Puggington, and Lady PixieDust of Pomerania. The Pomeranians are twins.
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