Michelle Rupp: Hello and welcome into this week’s edition of AFMC TV. We’re glad you’re joining us today. Joining us is our friend of the show Ken Clark with Channel Family Therapy. And we are discussing the new 988 hotline or help line number that has gone live in the United States just in the past few weeks. And so, Ken, thanks for joining us.

Ken Clark, MA, LMFT: Honored to be here as always. Loving what you guys are doing.

MR: Thank you. So, let’s talk about 988. It’s new.

KC: Yeah. So, we’ve always had some crisis help lines and stuff around the country. This is a really a national initiative that that kind of creates an equivalent to 911. But for mental health emergencies in particular suicide prevention and   self-harm and things like that. So, it’s a really big deal in the sense that that it actually creates a coordinated net of people who are there and available and willing to care for people who are in bad spots.

MR: And I understand that this has been in the works for quite some time. I think I was reading it came back in 2020. They began talking and maybe even before then about creating helpline like this.

KC: Yeah. And we’ve seen this all across first responders and things like that that that we recognize that the need for mental health and emergency mental health is a unique, distinct need within caring for the population. And so, people have been knocking at this around forever, therapists like me have been pounding the table for decades on it, but I think it kind of crystallized with the pandemic and a lot of people were struggling in the pandemic and that really moved this to fruition. So, it’s one of those great moments of everybody getting on the same page and doing the right things for people that live in our state and our country.

MR: Let’s talk a little bit about the fact that it’s a three-digit number versus an 800 number. You’re liable, I would think you might get more calls with three digits than you would with more.

KC: Absolutely. You know, 911 has become an iconic thing, right? Like it’s   in fact we were we were just at a concert and one of the singers songs was literally called 911 right? we expect and hope the same thing with this, that by the time we get a generation down the road, That will just be a known thing that that every 15 year old or a 30 year old knows that if you’re experiencing a mental health crisis or especially thoughts to hurt yourself that you can pick up and call these three digits and it’s not some long phone number you need to remember, it’s going to be very easy and it’ll be on the tip of people’s tongues and embedded in their subconscious. So, we think it’s great that they’ve made it this simple for people to access health.

MR: Let’s talk a little bit about the strides that have been made in the mental health arena, mental health, behavioral health, that that’s always been with us. And as of late there’s been more of a spotlight shone, but it almost seems as if now the tide is a lot more mainstream. It’s not as taboo to talk about as I remember growing up, you used to never hear about mental health or if you did it was because you were whispering because you didn’t want other people around to know you were talking about it.

KC: Yes. Well, and you know, there’s been a confluence like a coming together of probably three or four things high performance athletes for decades have been using psychologists and therapists and things like that to perform at a higher-level actors and business people have been using therapist and coaches for years. So, we know that   in general as humans, we crave and want input that helps us live better lives. We also have had a rash of issues come to the surface over the last 15, 20 years. Anything from mass shootings or, or self-harm or just that the pandemic. So we’ve, we’ve had kind of this coming together of both the really positive, high view of, of mental health that it’s becoming more and more acceptable that   top performers in life seek out mental health is part of being a top performer but at the same time we we’ve had this unavoidable   conversation come to this surface with what’s going on   in in our schools and in our families and things like that. So, we’re really at this unique probably once in a lifetime   discussion about mental health where both the positive aspects to it and the detriment when you don’t have it but there front and center. So, it’s really an awesome time for what we are seeing. Is that that the shift is moving from mental health is viewed as something that fixes people to mental health is how healthier people stay healthier. And that’s a really important shift right in the same way that we go to the dentist twice a year to make sure that we get ahead of cavities, and you go to your PCP a couple of times a year or once a year to make sure nothing is propped up and your cholesterol is okay and all that. We really want mental health to be viewed. The same way that that a visit or two a year can keep you from needing to ever pick up the phone and dial the hotline or get more intensive treatment. So, it’s a very exciting time where we’re moving from mental health as a way of fixing things to mental wellness as a way of living a better life for everybody.

MR: I’m curious from where you sit. Do you see that stigma being erased, centered around mental health.

KC: So, we see it being erased around certain things. There are certain aspects of the field in certain populations   that that get treatment that are more or less stigmatized still. And we’ll see some change their we know at this point that that kids suffer with behavioral issues and now it’s kind of become the norm.   everybody knows somebody with ADD or something like that. Right? So, for kids it’s become I think a lot safer to talk about within the team population.   it’s almost uncool to not have a therapist at some point. Right. so within those populations, we see it we know that women in general are the largest group of people that that reached out and asked for mental health help. So, the place that we’re still seeing some stigma that we really need to go after is men, especially men in in rural communities and places like that as well as some of our minority populations within the state. So, some groups are all about it. Other groups are still struggling and that’s where we really need men who are business owners and   you know, the bipod population and minorities to speak up and talk about their own mental health journey to normalize it and show people that, that the strong leaders that you look up to also rely on mental health themselves.

MR: It’s certainly nothing to be embarrassed about. That’s for sure.

KC: No, and I think we kind of tongue in cheek say if there’s anything to be embarrassed about it, it’s not asking for help, it’s so available and easy to get and, and we’re even, our field is evolving and the quality of treatment so fast. It’s the low hanging easy fruit. You know, it’s like taking your vitamins every day. Everybody should be leaning into mental health for a better life.

MR: Ken, anything else you’d like to add?

KC: Well, again, I would just tell you, don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and call that hotline. That’s why they’re there. Um, there’s no call that is problematic for them. They will direct you to the proper resources,  , spread the word about it. Post on your social media about it. We will lose less of our friends and family to, to suicide or severe mental illness. If we all take part in getting the word out about this hotline. So, for everybody listening at home or sitting in the waiting room right now, please, please spread the word about this hotline.

MR: Awesome Ken, thank you so much for joining us.

KC: Honored to be here.