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Welcome Letter


Welcome from Dr. Merritt

The rest of the website provides you with an introduction to our care navigation services and how to schedule online. Here I would like to tell you about myself and my hopes for each client who reaches out to us for assistance.

I grew up in Nashville, Tennessee, and attended Yale College, where I majored in American History and made plans to enter law school. Shortly after graduation, however, something happened. I fell into a crisis of confidence. It was a classic “identity crisis,” in the language of Erik Erikson, one that resolved only slowly after many years of introspection, loving help from others, and, vitally, sorting out what was meaningful for me in life.

To my good fortune, I figured out the answer to that essential question—meaningfulness—at the age of 23. Once I did, I posted it on my refrigerator door, where it hung by a magnet clasp for years as a daily reminder: “Relationships—That’s what matters most in life.” This philosophy of the primacy of relationships is still at the core of everything I do. It is the springboard for my work, my family life, and the satisfaction I experience every day with who I am and where I’m heading on this incredible journey of life. The message I affixed to the refrigerator inspired me to become a doctor and then to specialize in psychiatry—the discipline of medicine most concerned with relationships and relationship-building in the lives of others. Now the same mission inspires all of us at Merritt Mental Health to connect patients and families to the very best care possible to fit their needs.

I trained in psychiatry at Stanford, where I biked to work every day under blue skies and broad palm leaves. Afterward, my wife, who is Spanish, made sure that we stayed in the Bay Area because nowhere else in the U.S. felt so warmly like European soil to her. After graduation, I opened practices in San Francisco and Palo Alto, taught at the Stanford Department of Psychiatry, and became president of the San Francisco Psychiatric Society. Two fine young sons and more than a decade later, we’re still here, living and working in San Francisco.

In 2011, with a full practice, I added a valuable new dimension to my professional life. I began offering consultations to patients and family members in two separate clinical spheres: 1) addiction and 2) child, adolescent, and young adult issues. The consultations began with a central, resonant question in mental health care: What is the “best next step” for a patient or family to take on the pathway to achieving health and well-being? Once we had collaboratively answered this question, my assistant and I then went on to identify the best resources and referrals possible to fit the needs and preferences of each client.

I loved this new line of work. What was so invigorating about it was how free I felt to make the best recommendations possible. In the consulting role, my field of vision was no longer restricted to my own skill set and the four walls of my office. Instead, the possibilities for restoring health to patients and families opened up widely to include the diverse, wonderful skill sets and talents of hundreds of other clinicians and organizations in the Bay Area and beyond.

This work added an entirely new dimension of meaningfulness to my life. It was well-received by patients and families. It helped them to obtain the right diagnosis and to find the best doctors and treatment programs for their specific mental health needs and life circumstances. So, in September of 2013, I hired a top-notch creative thinker and Care Navigator, David Herschorn, and in the spring of 2014 we formally launched Merritt Mental Health.

Now a wonderful care navigator, Casey Hanley, and executive director, Tom Comitta, conduct excellent care navigation for Merritt Mental Health, seeking my input only when needed. The consistent response to this individualized, vetted service over the years has remained remarkably enthusiastic and positive. As one client said, “The right referral in psychiatry can be worth a $1 million. No, even more than that. It can save a life.”

Our daily focus remains on providing every client with the best guidance possible for getting well. Whatever your needs or concerns in mental health care, we will do our best to help you get connected in a courteous, time-efficient manner. Our goal is to help you find a pathway to wellness that is right for you and, thereafter, to be here for you as a helping relationship you can return to for any reason, at any time.

I would like to end by thanking two people, David Herschorn, who helped me found Merritt Mental Health, and Tom Comitta, who helped take it to the next level and achieve what we call internally “Care Navigation Excellence.” Thank you both for our excellent working relationships and for the positive impacts you have made on the lives of hundreds of clients. I am eternally grateful to you.

Warm regards,

Eli Merritt, M.D.



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