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Transcript of It's Okay if You're not Okay podcast Episode 07

Outtake: Keith starts the podcast and accidently says the name of the podcast, which is Renee's part because it rhymes with her name. Keith, Kate, Renee and special guest Tim DeWeese all practice saying "I'm Renee and It's Okay if You're not Okay."

Keith: Welcome listeners. Thanks for joining. I'm Keith.

Kate: I'm Kate.

Renee: I'm Renee. And it's okay if you're not okay.

Keith: And today we are talking about community partnerships, but before that we have a special guest. I want to welcome Tim DeWeese, he's the director of Johnson County Mental Health Center.

Tim: Thanks. I'm glad to be here guys.

Keith: That's the a obligatory, "I'm glad to be here" that every special guest has to give [talking over each other, laughter]. So today we're talking about community partnerships and we really want to dive into "Why are community partnerships between the mental health center and other organizations in our community significant to the mental health world here in Johnson County. So Tim we're gonna come to you first. Why, why is this important for us to have these community partnerships?

Tim: Well, I think that, the first thing is we are a community mental health center. So when your first name starts with community, it kind of means that you have to be a part of your community. And I think that, uh, when, when I became the director, one of the things that we used to do was we were kind of a little bit of an isolationist and I just don't see how providers can be isolationists and just focus on serving the clients that they're there to serve. There are so many overlaps and there are so many needs that exist in our, our community that we really don't need to just focus on one thing. What we need to do is make sure that we focus on the whole person, both their physical health as well as their mental health. And in doing that, then as a community mental health center, we have to have community, uh, supports. Because if we didn't, then we're not going to be successful. So I think that from the basis of who we are as a community mental health center, it just requires us to be the facilitator or at least outreach community partners so that we can better serve our community as a whole.

Kate: Yeah, that's very well said.

Keith: And we do that a lot through different divisions and departments here...Or not departments, but divisions within the mental health center.

Renee: Yeah. I would be hard pressed to maybe find a division within our center here that doesn't have some sort of connection to our community. I just want to keep going on what Tim is saying here is that man, I speak from my team team personally. I hope that you all have you gotten to hear me and know, you know what I do here. My team is the team that says, Hey, let's find you the best provider to meet your needs. And also taking a step back and take, maybe pick it up, swallowing my pride a little bit that that could be one of our community partners that's best for that person. And so it's having those relationships with the community providers to say, man, thanks for coming to Johnson County mental health. I've got someone for you.

Kate: And do you want to remind us what your department is? That way for people listening cause I think the community be really inspired to know what you know.

Renee: I appreciate that. And so again, my name is Renee and I am the open access team leader. We're a part of the emergency services division here at the mental health center and we're the folks that you see when you come in the front door you want to start services, you just want to talk to somebody and find out a little more. Those are the folks that are going to have that conversation with you.

Tim: And one of the things that I had said early on in my tenure here is that we wanted to be, or that I wanted the mental health center to be the gateway to mental health services in Johnson County. And a lot of people ask me, well what does that mean? And and basically what it meant was we can't serve everybody. So we're going to have to have community partnerships, but I want anyone to be able to pick up the phone and come to Johnson County mental health center and say, Hey, I need help. I don't know where to go. And we get them connected. We may end up serving them, but in many instances we may not. And we're going to connect them to the most appropriate provider of service. Yeah. And so when we say it's a gateway that would insinuate that it's a community, a community of providers that are trying to help support, um, our community. And so that's really what I meant by, uh, being a gateway for our community or gateway to mental health services.

Keith: Yeah. We started using that some as kind of a boiler plate on some of our media releases and other communications parts about being a gateway to mental health and the community. And I think that the way that it's helpful for our residents, um, and I know I experienced this when I first started working here, trying to figure out, well, what is this mental health system looking like? Just if you have not had any firsthand experience in your family with, um, mental illness or a mental health crises or anything along those lines, any kind of significant mental health challenges, uh, and then all of a sudden you do have that experience trying to figure out, well, where do I start? Or even just, I'm thinking about a parent who has a kid who is starting to have some concerns. Where do I start? And it's great to think about us being that gateway because it gives us one central entry point for our residents to, to start exploring that. So even though about half? About half of the people who come in through our walking clinics end up getting connected with one of our community partners, it's still, they get that initial contact with somebody who can assess their needs and try and find that good community partner to connect with.

Tim: I mean, I think the important thing is, is you know, you see that in access, but you also see that across the emergency services, whether it be our co-responders that are embedded with local police departments, whether it's, uh, our mobile crisis team MCRT or access, they are the front door to the mental health system. And so they're the front door to our services here at the, at the mental health center. But they're also the front door to get connected with whatever services. And I know that a lot of times when people are in crisis, they may not even be in a position to need mental health treatment at this moment in time. Maybe they need a roof over their head or, or maybe they need, um, help paint a bill, uh, and, and to reduce the stress on, on the overall family. And I think that's where we can help connect people to, uh, the folks that are in our community. And I think we're fortunate here in Johnson County. We have a plethora of community organizations. And I think that's the challenge. Um, when you look at the strengths model of case management, uh, the number six premise is, is that you view the community as an Oasis of resources. And so you have to challenge, uh, every community to look within itself, uh, to see how it can support, um, itself. And so I think we do a really good job of that here in Johnson County.

Renee: Right? I mean, not to be cliche, but it takes a village, right? We're, we're, we're at part of that village and I hope we can get, I hope, I know we do. I know we do get folks connected.

Kate: Yeah. And I was just going to say, I mean, you can hear and feel Tim's passion as he's talking about this. And so I just want to add that we truly walk the walk. We don't just say that we want to work to build community partnerships and improve that we're working it and we're living that everyday to make sure that the community is getting the comprehensive care that not just that they need but also deserves.

Keith: It's kind of interesting too, as far as capacity goes. Um, it's a necessity for us to have those partnerships because we serve just under 10,000 clients a year. And if you look at the net national statistic...

Kate: I'm impressed that you know, all this, like data off the top of your head.

Tim: I'm trying to look for notes over there [laughter, inaudible]

Speaker 4: ...national statistic, one in five adults in America have a diagnosable mental illness. And so you take that number and if you apply that to Johnson County, I can't do that math quite fast, buts about 125,000 people. Now, I don't know the break up of kids versus adults, but we're serving 10,000 people. There's probably over a hundred thousand people in Johnson County that have a diagnosable mental illness and there is no way that we would ever be able to serve that quantity. And the fact of our community being that plethora of resources is essential. Like it's, it has to.

Tim: Yeah, I think that's a good point, is a point that I try to make all the time. I think the other thing that it's important, um, when you're starting to talk about community partnerships is that one of the things that we know is that major mental illnesses as ma major mental illnesses are really preventable. And so you have to move upstream. And the only way that you can move upstream, I mean the community mental health system is responsive in nature. I mean we respond to crisis situations and really what we need to do is build those partnerships in our community with schools, with daycares, whoever, um, we can build those partner, uh, primary care physicians, PD, pediatricians, whoever we can build those relationships with to try to be more preventative in nature. And I think that's another reason why it's important for us to look at ourselves as, as a community builders.

Keith: Yeah. Kate I wondered if that might flow it all into your answer, you know, coming from, I mean, your role as a prevention coordinator and so talk a little bit about that.

Kate: Yeah. So the answer I was originally thinking in my head and as we've said before, I always try to find a loophole to keep things broad and so I'm going to continue on with that theme and I was going to say, yeah, so it was going to keep that same theme going and say access to care and using the word care broadly. Um, as one of the main reasons for that, because again, we need to find approaches to both mental health and mental illness. And I use, I want to say that there's, we all have mental health just as we all have physical health. And so we all need to have strategies in place to help support whether you're in a great place with your mental health or maybe you're in a mental health crisis or you're experiencing mental illness, wherever that might be, that you have the care and those strategies in place. And I also use the word access to care broadly as in that we have a bubble that we all kind of live in. But within that big bubble, there's little sectors and pockets and people are going to go in and out of that and interact with all sorts of different people. And all of us play a role in getting an individual linked with the appropriate supports. And so even if you're not a mental health clinician, you can say, Hey, did you hear about this surface as available or this one? And care also being just connectedness. I mean, care doesn't have to always be just clinical supports or supports for a need. It can just being, Hey, I attended a training. I see someone who may be experiencing, um, signs of depression or might be having suicidal ideation. And now I know how to respond because we partnered with an organization that provided the assist training or mental health first aid and now I know how I can be the best support I can be to show them I care.

Tim: I think that the other thing that, um, I, I, I thought about as, as Kate was talking was, uh, I saw, uh, I guess it was a, uh, uh, a poster that said, you know, when you take "I" out of "illness" and replace it with "we," it's wellness. And so really what we need to be talking about is community wellness. And so it's not just about providing services, it's about really helping connect people. And I think, I think that is really something that I've stressed over the last five years is that you can go and do tasks with people and get stuff done every day. Uh, but if you don't develop a relationship with someone, if you don't help them connect, um, to the community, then we're not really doing our jobs. And so I think the, the more connected our community is to one another, the more healthy we're going to be, the more mentally well we're going to be. So we're really looking at that mental wellness, that's community wellness.

Renee: I like that. I really like what you guys, I think what Kate and Kim, Kate and Tim, I just made them Kim for the podcast and they are Kim. They are one brain. [laughter] #Kim

Tim: Hey, you know, it goes back to your very first day we were out in the community, uh, um, taking it, taking the, taking the message out to the people that very first day heard on the job. So she got stuck with me. So yeah,

Renee: What Kate and Tim have both made a point of is that community partners are not just the other folks out in the community providing the same services or like services. It's the folks out there that are willing to hear our message and share that message. It is the folks that are there with a warm embrace, a handshake, a meal, a roof, information, a support in some economic way. Again, a school, a hospital. Uh, so I really think it's cool how our community partners is such a broad term. And that's a, it's a great thing. Um, cause it means just, it really is, if you can imagine a community, it's all parts of that, that we hope to engage in this message.

Keith: Yeah, that made me think of, um, the Friends of Johnson County Mental Health Center and even the board member representation there. We have small business owners, we have people from the tech industry, we have musicians. Uh, there, there's just a wide variety of people who are invested in the work of mental wellness in our community. It takes all of those sectors working together to help connect people to care.

Renee: Yeah, absolutely.

Keith: I have a nerdy answer. So my answer to this, you would expect nothing less.

Kate: Rob Bell?

Keith: No, maybe I'll find out some way later in this episode maybe to bring Rob Bell in. Let me, let me work on that. Um, so the class I'm in, so just to remind listeners, I am not a mental health professional and I have no clinical background or anything. So I'm coming at this from a, the communications route. But then more specifically, I'm in my MPA program right now and I'm in this...

Tim: I think this is the third time he's mentioned that in three podcasts.

Keith: My MPA program?

Tim: Yeah, I think so. I think you need to go back and I think we need to go back and look because I think that's in all three of them.

Keith: I just wanna thank you for reminding me of our disclaimer. The views and opinions expressed in this podcast do not necessarily represent those of Johnson County government or Johnson County Mental Health Center.

Renee: and Keith is in school [laughter].

Keith: ...and Keith is in school. The reason, the reason I want to bring that up is because I am talking, I want to make sure our listeners know that my perspective on the clinical things is not clinical, um, or even on, um, broader strategies for dealing with mental illness. I want people to understand what filter to listen to me in or through. So the class I'm in right now-I know you're all excited about this-is called shared governance...Or collaborative governance. What's really interesting to me about that, because our community mental health center has the unique role of not only being a community mental health center but also be embedded in county government, which is unique to I think all other community mental health centers too.

Tim: There's only two of them in Kansas, one and us and, uh, the mental health center in Sedgwick County.

Keith: Okay. Okay. Um, so what's interesting about that for us is as a part of County government, we have interest in serving the mental health needs of the entire county as a part of county government. We also have a specific jurisdiction. So thinking about law enforcement, for example, there are 20 cities in Johnson County. The county government has, um, the Johnson County Sheriff's department, which primarily serves, uh, unincorporated parts of the county. So the parts outside of city limits plus a couple of the small cities. And so we don't have, through our own means as county government, the ability to, influence or change the way that, uh, like we don't have direct access to law enforcement within the cities. And so we're dependent upon collaborative partnerships, community partnerships with the other law enforcement agencies in Johnson County. And that's where we get like our co-responders. We now have just about a hundred percent coverage of Johnson County with our co-responder program. And that's because of these community partnerships where the cities have identified that we have some resources that would be beneficial to the residents. And we have seen that by working with those law enforcement agencies, we get access to uh, individuals in need that we wouldn't otherwise have access. And so it's a mutually beneficial relationship between us in the cities within our county. Another similar partnership is what the schools; we're doing awesome things in schools. And we don't often think about schools as government organizations or jurisdictions, but they are and we are in all six of the public school districts, um, through a variety of prevention services. We now have a pilot program of a co-responder in USD 231. And so those things are like specific cross-governmental collaborations that provide access to services that would otherwise be there.

Tim: I think that's a really good point. And, you know, I mentioned earlier that as a community mental health center, uh, you know, where "community" is in, in our name, but I think that you're exactly right. I think when you also, uh, point the fact out that we're also part of a county government, we're public servants. I think we're uniquely positioned to be a kind of a backbone for a lot of community efforts. And I think that's, um, for example, with, uh, most recently the, the hashtag zero reasons why, um, that we, that we are doing that, um, and, and, and serve as the backbone. Uh, and, and when you start to look at, uh, things that we do in the community, there are a lot of them where we may take the lead or we may be that backbone agency, but we couldn't do it on our own. When you look, when you look at, um, sources of strength, when you look at strengthening families, when you look at zero reasons why, uh, those are just three off the top of my head. Uh, but when you look at those, uh, opportunities, they're really community collaborations. And, and it's, it's, it's huge and it, the impact goes well beyond providing mental health services to our community.

Renee: Yup. And it goes well beyond. And a couple of my most recent examples, it kind of comes down to that little kind of microscopic look at because of some of these big picture big community partner collaborations, there have been smaller agencies that have come directly to me in Access and to Tim and, and my boss and gone, "Hey, how can we partner with you guys?" Because they see our name and our brand, our service. "Wow, this is uh, this is a place to help get folks connected. How, how could we partner is, is there a way?" And we just, we get creative. I feel really empowered to get creative with community partners. They all do not have to look the same. You don't have to be providing X, Y, Z mental health service in the community to come be a partner. There's just so many unique opportunities we have and that people are, are looking at their own service provision to go, Ooh, how can I learn, change, grow and be a part of a bigger community. So I think that's really neat that we have been connected even on the front line level with some more unique providers because of some of our larger partnerships. Um, and that's just man, that's full circle when you get down to it, a community really supporting mental wellness.

Keith: And I think the more people involved in those conversations too the, the more we are able to counteract stigma of mental illness, there's more people engaged in the process of mental wellness for our community. And so that means there's more individual employees and contributors at these organizations having conversations in everyday life. And it makes everybody feel more comfortable about talking about their own stuff or their family's stuff and being okay with that. That that is a part of who we are.

Kate: Absolutely. And I was going to say something similar and I'll add that also, and I can use the word recovery broadly and so that can be recovery from anything, not just substance use. Um, but when we talk about recovery, wherever you are on that journey, whether you're just starting to, um, seek treatment or you're in the maintenance stage, wherever that's at, I think of it as a wheel and every community partner is one of the spokes on that because there's so many things going on that impact someone's recovery journey that if we are missing just one or two of those spokes, everything can still be off kilter. And that's, I don't, is that a word? Off-kilter? I think it is. It sounded weird. It all plays into it and things can get thrown off if we don't have those partnerships in place to help make sure the care that's being given is comprehensive in nature and that all aspects of people's mental wellness, mental health, mental illness, all of that is being addressed properly. Especially if it's do we think the basic needs for safety and a home and all of that? I mean, it's hard to ask someone to, uh, work on their mental health or mental illness journey if they're still trying to figure out how am I gonna pay my bills? How am I going to have, you know, a roof or food or, and so I think that's what I really love about our approach with here at Johnson County Mental Health Center is that we work with every entity to make sure that they're supported and have what they need.

Tim: I think that's interesting. You know, when you, when you think about recovery, I've not met one person in recovery from anything, whether that be mental health recovery or physical health care, recovery, recovering from a trauma, uh, whatever it might be that said, "you know, I recovered. I did it all on my own." You know, one of the things that we know about recovery is that you need people who believe in you and who are willing to stand by you. And that is your community, uh, that, that is what we're talking about. And so the more we, the more we, the more we work together to create that community, the better off we're going to be in total.

Renee: I might echo all of that and I'm, I'm super encouraged just sitting here listening and I forget I'm on the podcast, I've got to say something. I just want to keep smiling and listening. Um, but I think if I were to, I don't know if I've got a specific answer other than community partnerships already, essential cliche. Uh, but I mean, I think in my work specifically as, as being a licensed clinician, um, how dare I think that I can do this alone. And so that's where I come from is that community partners allow me as a mental health clinician to start where that person sitting across the table from me is. So I get to start where that client is and I get to tell them, "Hey, I don't do EMDR. Okay, but man, I know someone who does." And that's where the client is at, not where I'm at. And so if it's just me and if everyone practices like me and that's all we have to offer, what a shame.

Kate: Thank you for that vulnerability because sometimes it's easy to want to be the one that can say, yeah, I can help you with that. I can fix that for you. We can want to get to that place. And I think what makes you an amazing clinician is that you can sit there and say, I can help you with X, Y and Z and I know who I can link you to who has the trainings to do the EMDR. And so I just want to thank you for being willing to sit with... [Inaudible],

Renee: keep talking, keep anyone else. But I appreciate that because I think grow you enter into this field because I'm a natural helper and the shadow side of that is I'm a natural fixer and I don't, I'm not here to fix anybody's life. Trust me, I got my own stuff to do. I can focus on myself. What I'd love to do is walk alongside you in, in, in your way. I want you to direct that, and if I'm not the best person to walk down this specific path with you, then it's my responsibility to link you up with someone who can, and that's a community partner and that's my direct line of what a community partner means to me in my line of work.

Keith: If you're an individual who would like to donate your support, some of the work that happens there is a separate 501c3 organization called Friends of Johnson County Mental Health Center, and you can find them online and donate online to contribute to a lot of our community partnerships such as #ZeroReasonsWhy or the Johnson County Suicide Prevention Coalition. Thanks for listening. I'm Keith.

Kate: I'm Kate,

Renee: I'm Renee, and it's okay if you're not okay.