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Corrine Sako advocates for patients and her fellow therapists

When Dr. Corrine Sako wraps up her last therapy session for the day, her work to meet the mental health needs of her community is far from over. 

The Sacramento-based psychologist is a fierce mental health advocate who leads several initiatives to improve access to mental health care for many of Sacramento’s most vulnerable residents.

Sako chairs the Sacramento County Mental Health Board and co-chairs The Community Wellness Response Team Advisory Committee, which is tasked with providing response alternatives when people call 9-1-1 for mental health emergencies. 

“I do it because I’m so very passionate about transforming the system, so that folks get care in the community,” said Sako, who is also the past President of the Sacramento Valley Psychological Association and a leader in the movement to stop the expansion of the Sacramento County jail and use those funds to expand community-based mental health services.

Although Sako always has a full plate, she has found time to become one of the most active members of NUHW’s Behavioral Health Associate Membership program.

“(BHAM) was everything that I’d been missing as a private practice practitioner because I don’t have a union, I don’t have representation,” Dr. Sako said. 

Founded in 2023, NUHW’s associate membership program offers private practice therapists the opportunity to further NUHW’s fight for mental health parity and stand up to insurers, who still offer low reimbursements that result in preventing lower and middle-income patients from accessing the care they need.

Like many therapists in the program, Sako likes the independence and autonomy that comes with private practice, but struggles to deal with insurance companies.

Whenever Dr. Sako has needed help with billing disputes and other issues dealing with insurance companies; she’s found herself at a dead end. 

“I’ve reached out to state professional associations, but they’re really more interested in representing themselves and their respective disciplines than the individual practitioner,” she said.

That’s why Dr. Sako jumped at the opportunity to join NUHW’s program, where she is helping grow a community of private practitioners to advocate for fair compensation and better mental healthcare access from managed care companies. 

“I found this to be more person-centered,” she said. “There’s more advocacy and action for quality of care and appreciating the fact that better conditions for practitioners ultimately lead to better care for the client.” 

Sako compared her fellow NUHW associate members to an orchestra. 

“We all have our individual strengths and it really produces a beautiful sound,” she said. “Private practice is so isolating. For self-care and longevity in this career, it benefits to find these people and this community. NUHW is a wonderful resource and community support for a therapist.”

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