Meet Erica Lee
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Dr. Erica Lee, DNP, PMHNP-BC
Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner
Specialty: Child/adolescent mental health, conduct disorder, trauma
I'm Erica Lee, a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner with a deep passion for helping children, teens, and their loved ones navigate the complexities of mental health. With a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree from ASU and 13 years of nursing experience, my journey into the field of mental health has been one of continuous growth and learning.
Prior to this role, I have spent nine years as a nursing professor, where I honed my skills in making complex concepts accessible and relatable. My own life experiences have given me a profound understanding of the challenges posed by ADHD, trauma, anxiety, depression, and grief. I've walked the path of healing and resilience and am committed to helping others do the same.
I'm not just a healthcare provider; I'm a mom of three young adults, and I've experienced the trials and triumphs of parenting firsthand. As a teen mom, before it was 'cool,' I learned the power of determination, education, and support in overcoming obstacles. I understand that idealism is not for everyone, and I do my best to advise and support based on real-life circumstances.
In my practice, I specialize in teaching and connecting with my patients in a relatable way. I believe that understanding and empathy are the cornerstones of effective care. I'm dedicated to creating a safe and nurturing environment for children and teens to explore their mental well-being. I am open-minded and fully committed to providing care that respects and honors individual experiences.
As a passionate queer ally, I firmly believe in inclusivity and creating a safe, accepting space for all individuals, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. My journey is a testament to the belief that, with the right support and guidance, individuals can overcome adversity and find their path to wellness. I look forward to joining you on this journey to better mental health.
Favorite movie: The Royal Tenenbaums
If you could have a superpower, what superpower would you pick: Telekinesis.
Favorite bands: Run the Jewels, David Bowie, Phantogram, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Beck
Tell us one fun fact about yourself: I’m a decent karaoke rapper.
If you had 3 wishes, what would you wish for:
• Everyone has to follow the same rules that nurses do (do no harm, treat everyone equally, advocate for all, don’t spread infection).
• Climate change to be resolved in a way that is sustainable and equitable.
• Leaders who operate for the good of all
Tell us about your dogs, too: Koko (12 yo GSP), Cromwell (6 yo pit mix) and Bowie (3 yo pocket American Bully). It’s hard to describe how much these pups mean to me, but they are my besties and have kept me company through the hardest time in my life. They each have their own quirks and personalities and should have their own reality show.
What are you most passionate about in the mental health field? Helping families through difficult situations and things that no one wants to talk about. I have learned from my experience raising three kids and I know it didn’t have to be as hard as it was, had I known more and understood how my own trauma impacted my parenting style.
What are your thoughts about treating adult ADHD? Many people have struggled their whole life, believing that what made things difficult was laziness or lack of discipline. They do not know that things don’t have to be so hard. I believe that ADHD should be included in the differential for adults who have difficulty with organization, motivation, concentration, etc. and considered along with CPTSD, anxiety, and depression.
What is your philosophy on using medication to treat mental health? Are medications lifelong? Does a patient who sees you HAVE to be on medication? I think that medication can be life-changing in many cases, but I also know that other actions can be just as, if not more, effective. I aim to educate my patients on various solutions so that they are able to make informed decisions and feel open to receiving/sharing feedback when something isn’t working. I don’t believe medication has to be lifelong and should be reassessed regularly and discontinued when no longer needed.
If a patient is nervous about an evaluation, especially when talking about tough things like trauma or sexual abuse, what would you want them to know? I would want my patients to know they can share as much or as little as they want with me. Explaining this is important up front, and I might even use tools like a signal or safe word that the client can utilize to let me know it's too much.
How do you feel about medical marijuana? I wish there was more opportunity to research cannabis and other traditional plant medicines to help guide their use for mental and medical indications. Current American policy prevents adequate research and is influenced by pharmaceutical industries, who are motivated to keep these highly regulated.
Do you have experience with non-binary and trans kids? Yes - in my experience learning at Paperflower, Phoenix Children’s, and CRS, I have worked with kids who identify as trans, non-binary, and gender-fluid. I feel comfortable helping parents navigate this and can also hold space for the conflict they might feel. Ultimately, we need to advocate for our patients and help their family learn to support them.
Do you have any personal experiences regarding mental health you are opening to sharing?
I have experienced trauma, homelessness, abuse, anxiety, depression, and complex grief. I have loved ones who have experienced addiction, bipolar, ADHD. I utilize these experiences to identify with others, and I also believe that this helps me keep bias in check.
What are other things you feel could be beneficial to improve mental health other than
medications? Self-talk is a huge factor that I continue to explore with my own mental health. It is so important to recognize the way that your thoughts shape your mental health and be intentional about speaking kindly to yourself.
What is your philosophy on using medication to treat mental health for kids? I absolutely believe that medication can be an appropriate intervention for kids, and the impact it can have for families is undeniable. I don’t believe it is the only answer in every situation and I am comfortable suggesting/discussing alternatives with parents.
What are your thoughts on screen time and social media for kids and teens? I’m learning to understand the impact that screen time and social media has on humans, including the dopamine dysregulation that comes from nearly non-stop screen time during waking hours.
I think that it’s a complex topic from a kid’s point of view and may even be their social lifeline. I think it is important for parents to know that using screen time and social media as a reward/punishment has a greater impact than they might imagine and that setting boundaries up front and revisiting them at regular intervals is important.