Since 1966, Polara Health — formerly West Yavapai Guidance Clinic — has been creating a healthier community through myriad programs addressing mental health concerns for individuals at all age levels. For the past four years, those services have been led by CEO Tamara Player.

“I am fascinated with the brain and how it works, and went to school to be a neuropsychologist. Then as life changed, Todd and I got married and as the family grew, my career direction changed.

“My clinical work is with children and families who are high risk and I spent a lot of time in homes within the community providing care, and experienced some very interesting situations,” Tamara said. “I was later able to enter the administrative (side) and the creation and direction of programs, which I love.”

Houlton Maine, very close to the Canadian border with a population of 12,000, was where Tamara first experienced the collaboration and networking that is necessary to provide the outreach and services that smaller communities need.

A stint in Denver and then later San Diego would eventually result in an opportunity in Prescott, where those same small-town values and collaboration exist.

With an employee base of roughly 380, Polara works to make mental health care not only accessible but comfortable. With over 225 new patients on a monthly basis, Polara offers programs beginning from birth through seniors. As such, a Center for Excellence Award was recently given to Polara for its birth through 5-year-old programs as well as other industry awards and recognition.

“There is still a stigma attached to reaching out for help, yet there was a recent study by the World Health Organization which showed 67% of the U.S. population does not operate at optimal mental capacity and so, at some point, a large part of our community could benefit from some sort of mental health assistance,” Tamara added. “Polara is here to make that assistance not only accessible, but also non-judgmental. It’s as simple as calling 928-445-5211, and we can put you in touch with someone to guide you to the right resources.

“The important thing with mental health, especially with someone who has been experiencing long-term issues, is to get them in contact with help at the moment they make the decision of accepting it. So timing, and access is a priority for us.”

Given the demographic of Prescott, it is not surprising that there is an ever-growing increase in the need for senior services. “Our senior peer program, where volunteers go into homes to help address isolation concerns, is a very robust program that we have developed and, during 2020, we saw an even greater need, and yet a greater challenge due to the reluctance of seniors being concerned about in person contact. So we’ve had to be creative about how we address those needs.”

She added that primary care is one of the newer services Polara offers to individuals who are in need of immediate care while experiencing a mental health crisis. “Youth in transition to adulthood is another area we provide assistance to make our youth as successful as possible as they enter life on their own.”

Six years ago, the Crisis Stabilization Unit opened in Prescott Valley. This facility is provided as a stop gap to give immediate assistance to individuals who are in need of help and rather find themselves in the emergency room, or jail, where they will not receive the services they need.

The program continues to provide chemical substance dependency care through both in-house intensive and out-patient programs, which continue to see additional and unfortunate growth. “We continue to see an increase in need for substance abuse care, and will be opening a new 28-bed facility to help address this population.”

One of the most unexpected programs may be “Cognitive Function Therapy,” which addresses ADHD and other issues in both youth and adults through a variety of therapy techniques to help patients reduce their need for mediation and develop methods that help them manage.

For more information, call 928-445-5211 or visit

Check out the full interview at noon Saturday, April 29 on “The Prescott Palette,” airing on KQNA 1130 AM, and 99.5 & 99.9 FM.

Barry Barbe owns the El Gato Azul and Torme restaurants in Prescott, and is the energy and insight behind the Prescott Palette. His radio show, the Prescott Palette, is on KQNA 1130 AM, Saturdays at noon. Email:

Use our search bar to find listings of businesses near you.

Looking for a local event near you? We got you!

Discover Events in Prescott

We're here to help you book an event, buy ticket online or make a reservation.