CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. — For Dr. Irakli Mania, the seeds for becoming an addiction psychiatrist were planted halfway around the world in post-Soviet Georgia.
He said the country’s crumbling economy fostered an environment that led many of his peers to crime and drug abuse.
“I felt helpless,” he said.
Mania has spent the past 10 years helping patients in Franklin County recover from opioid use disorder and other mental health issues.
To acknowledge his efforts, the Pennsylvania Medical Society honored Mania with its January Everyday Hero Award. He is the first physician from Chambersburg, Pa., to receive the honor.
This monthly, statewide award showcases talented physicians who probably don’t view themselves as heroes, but who are to patients and colleagues.
Dr. Jagdeep Kaur, who nominated Mania, described her colleague as “very compassionate about patient care.”
Mania graduated from AIETI Medical School in Tbilisi, Georgia, where he often studied by candlelight because of the lack of electricity. From there, he came to the United States to research electrophysiology at the department of psychiatry at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, Ga. He completed adult psychiatry residency training at Drexel University College of Medicine in Philadelphia before landing at Keystone Behavioral Health in Chambersburg.
As medical director for Keystone Behavioral Health, Mania oversees a department that has grown from two to eight psychiatrists during the past 10 years. He was on the forefront of physicians becoming certified to provide medication assisted treatment for those who suffer from opioid use disorder.
Dr. Mania also holds volunteer leadership positions with the Franklin and Fulton County Mental Health Advisory Board and the Central Pennsylvania Psychiatric Society.
“Wanting to make an impact is what made me to choose medicine,” he says. “Seeing somebody getting better, putting a smile on somebody’s face, makes my day.”