Admissions to Mental Health Treatment: Limelight Interview

Admissions to mental health treatment

Kelly Stone, Sanford Behavioral Health, Director of Admissions at Sanford West Behavioral Health Campus

One of the most daunting parts of entering mental health treatment is picking up the phone to ask for help. Often, when people call, they are overwhelmed, contacting us on what might be a very bad day. But every person who calls Sanford Behavioral Health will know they are no longer alone. The Admissions team is there to listen and help, even if a person is just researching options.


Admissions to Treatment

The Admissions team are the first line of care a person receives at Sanford Behavioral Health. Today in the Limelight Interview, we speak with Kelly Stone, Director of Admissions. All you have to do is spend time with Kelly Stone, and you know her heart is in her work. She and the Admissions team talk to people every day who are seeking help for addiction, eating disorders and mental health conditions.


Why do I love what I do? I work with great, energetic people who are recovery advocates. There is also an adrenaline rush when you can get someone who is in crisis to the door of Sanford Behavioral Health for treatment. It reminds me of that Planet Fitness sign, “You did something great today!”

Kelly Stone, MBA, Director of Admissions



admissions mental health

Members of the Sanford Behavioral Health Admissions Team


Limelight Interview: Kelly Stone, Director of Admissions

1. What is Your Primary Focus?

KS: At Sanford Behavioral Health, my primary focus is admissions. That means everything that happens before people arrive at the door to treatment. I look for anything I can find to personalize the experience for the person contacting us. We try to help them/their loved ones find their motivation. I ask a lot of questions about what has worked or not worked in the past. That really helps Dr. Masterson and the medical team. And if we know what they have tried in the past, the information helps us differentiate our services.

I also try to find a connection and gauge what is keeping the person from sobriety. What are they struggling with the most? That is often caused by environmental factors or personal motivation. I ask the same of family members when I talk to them. The story I hear a lot is that in the past the person went to the hospital, stayed a few days and was discharged. Of course, if that is the case nothing has changed. I think they get brochures and information at the hospital and that is why they are calling. Deep down inside they know it will not work unless they get treatment, but I often have to define what treatment is.


2. What is Your Philosophy? Those Things You Know to Be True About Mental Health Treatment?

KS: First, this is bigger than any person. I want to make them see that. If I can get a person to see the big picture, focus on their mother, child, spouse and how important they are to that person, I can almost hear it click over the phone. Second, the person has to be willing to do what is uncomfortable. We need them to see that escape is no longer an option.



3. Why Do You Do This Work in Admissions?

KS: Since high school, I have wanted to work in the behavioral health field. I’m not sure why. I came from a pretty consistent background. I just kept going to school. – I have two master’s degrees – it was so intriguing to me. My undergrad was in Psychology, and I have a master’s in Criminology and an MBA. The more I learned, the more I wanted to implement and create change. Wherever you go, the behavioral health field is understaffed and underserved. There is always a need for this kind of work.


4. What is the Key to Successful Outcomes in Recovery?

KS: I think of the concept of doing the same thing you’ve always done and expecting a different result. We must change it up. I get asked all the time if we can “fix” someone. We are not in the business of fixing anyone. We are here to support. Our goal is to give you avenues and solutions to get to the next step. Our patients have to own their recovery and what works for one person may not work for another.


5. What About the Pitfalls?

KS: We get calls from parents and loved ones all the time. And they love that person with an addiction, eating disorder, mental health condition. The person in treatment means the world to someone. I guess I would say that loving someone can only get them so far. I admire people who won’t give up, who keep trying. But they cannot love their family members healthy. Our clients have to do the work themselves.


6. What is the Fun Part of the Job?

KS: I work with great, energetic people who are recovery advocates. There is also an adrenaline rush when you can get someone who is in crisis to the door of Sanford Behavioral Health for treatment. It reminds me of that Planet Fitness sign, “You did something great today.” You can hear it in their voices. The decision is made. They are getting help. I love it! If I did everything right, if everything goes right, we have saved someone.


7. What About the Most Challenging Part?

KS: When I see parents or significant others struggling. That is the hardest part of the job. When a patient comes in, they go off into a medical assessment and we are left with the family. That is when you hear the pleas and see the fear. How could you not feel for them? I feel relieved if at the end of the day I can say, “We’ve done everything we could.”



8. Do You Read for Pleasure?

KS: I love books that are true stories about life. Anything that is not fiction. Give me a story about a personal experience with addiction and I’m going to pick it up.


9. What is Your Favorite Journey?

KS: Right now I’m five months pregnant, so… this is my greatest journey. It’s a boy. And it’s not just being pregnant; before Sanford, I’d never had a work-life balance before. So, there is hope out there for everyone, just hang in there! The journey is believing. This is about your faith being greater than your fear. That applies to our patients as well.


10. Is That Your Motto?

KS: Yes. Your faith is greater than your fear.


11. What Makes Sanford Behavioral Health Unique?

KS: The environment of care. I’ve been in so many treatment facilities throughout this nation, and this is the best environment of care I have seen by far. Things get fixed around here, you don’t have to wait for years to see a program come to fruition. When you see this level of care about the facility, it shows there is respect and care for the patients who come here. When I first toured Sanford, I said to David Green, “You don’t have to tell me how you care about the patients. I know how you care for them based on the place I am standing in.” Obviously, excellent treatment modalities are important – and we have that. But the physical space is the first step. People ask me all the time, “Are these pictures actually how the place looks?” And I can truthfully say they are!

Thank you Kelly!




Sanford Behavioral Health is licensed and accredited as an addiction, eating disorder, and co-occurring mental health treatment facility, serving all of Michigan and beyond. Each of Sanford’s facilities in Greater Grand Rapids is carefully and diligently crafted to create a welcoming and comforting environment. Sanford is led by a psychiatrist-led team of medical, clinical, and support personnel providing medication-assisted, evidenced-based treatment to residential, outpatient, and telehealth patients. For more information, visit