Bringing accessible & relational holistic complementary health and mental health care to rural communities


Restored hope and purpose in rural communities


The Arukah Institute provides client-centered, complementary health and counseling services to foster prevention wellness, and mental health in rural communities. Arukah’s method involves a variety of approaches including novel video-based programs, mind-body therapies as well as more conventional individual and group therapies. We journey with clients long-term and help them build a healthy view of self as well as healthy relationships with others. Our method is data-driven and validated by our research program.

The Statistics:

The following statistics represent high priority mental health challenges facing the Illinois Valley today: 

HIGH rates of suicide and self-inflicted injury

Suicide rates are 2 times greater in our rural community compared with Cook County., the largest and most urban county in Illinois.a Self-inflicted injuries, which include suicide attempts, requiring treatment at a hospital are 3 times greater in our community than in Cook County.a,b

Elevated death rates due to drug overdose

In the last two years, rates of death due to drug overdose in our community are over 30% higher than in Cook County. c

A LACK of COMPLEMENTARY health services

Complementary and alternative strategies (e.g., mindfulness, yoga) for treating mental issues in our area are lacking. This results in few non-pharmacologic (non-drug) therapies for mental issues such as anxiety and depression, and few non-addictive treatment options for pain. This becomes particularly important regarding prescription opioid addiction.


LIMITED MENTAL health services

Our communities are designated as federally underserved areas for mental health. Our communities are also designated as mental health professional shortage areas.d This means that many community members report long wait times to see a counselor or therapist, or they are not successful in finding one at all.

a Death rate per 100K people; US Center for Disease Control: 1999-2014 Final Data; b Crude rates per 10K population, Illinois Hospital Discharge, Illinois Department of Public Health, 2009-2012; c Death rate per 100K population, County Health Rankings & Roadmaps, 2015-2016; d Bureau and Putnam County Community Health Plan 2012-2016.

Figure 1: Counties served by the Arukah Institute of Healing, Inc. Dark gray counties represent our primary area of service (Phase I), and the light gray areas represent future areas of service (Phase II).


Residents in large part are unable to afford mental health care

Compared to the Illinois average, more residents in our community lack insurance or use Medicare, and numbers of children in medical assistance programs continue to rise. d


Senior Management Team

Sarah B. Scruggs, PhD

Sarah B. Scruggs, PhD

Director of Research & Validation

Jamie L. Taylor, LCPC (in process)

Jamie L. Taylor, LCPC (in process)

Director of Prevention

Stephanie N. Gustafson

Stephanie N. Gustafson

Director of Operations & Marketing

Pamela J. Heil, CADC

Pamela J. Heil, CADC

Director of Restorative Programs

Board Of Directors


Sarah B. Scruggs, PhD

Founder | Executive Director of Arukah Institute of Healing

Experience: 13 years of molecular research in precision cardiovascular medicine

Belief: Loving and empowering humans through relationship and innovative approaches

Pamela J. Heil, CADC

Co-Founder | Director of Arukah Institute of Healing

Experience: 25 years in pastoring, counseling, and developing programs for addiction and abuse

Belief: Loving the broken until they can love themselves; creating a safe environment to find hope

Deena White, LBSW, IADC

Director of Arukah Institute of Healing

Experience: 12 years in clinical counseling for substance abuse and community mental health

Belief: Opening doors for those that are hurting and struggling with addiction to realize their full potential

Dana Gustafson, BA

Director of Arukah Institute of Healing

Experience: 7 years in corporate business and administration

Belief: God’s leadership and vision provides renewed purpose, value and restoration to individuals

Elizabeth Bonucci, JD

Director of Arukah Institute of Healing

Experience: 10 years in employment-related litigation matters

Belief: People from all walks of life are deserving of grace no matter their personal circumstances

Justin Lane, BS

Director of Arukah Institute of Healing

Experience: 12 years agricultural engineering and production, and technical marketing

Belief: Lives can be strengthened and rebuilt through faith in our Savior


Jon Knipper, BA

Director of Arukah Institute of Healing

Experience: 18 years of healthcare and insurance operations and administration

Belief: Living through Christ and being the change we wish to see in the world

Vickie Vetter-Scruggs, BS

Director of Arukah Institute of Healing

Experience: 20 years in the travel industry, humanitarian, master gardener, and organic enthusiast

Belief: Health and healing is accomplished through a mind-body-spirit approach


Corporate Sponsors


Community Partners


The Arukah Institute of Healing, Inc (NFP) does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, disability, sex, national origin or sexual orientation in any of its activities or operations.