Mental health expert Kelly Reinhardt joins us to discuss how modern life is impacting mental health for adults and children, things we can do to protect our sleep and overall mental health, and how her organization BCC Evolution is giving people a safe place to address their mental health challenges. Kelly describes herself as a warrior for mental health, and she’s making a big difference in the world. In today’s episode, Kelli will help us explore the connection between mental health and sleep.
About BCC Evolution
Kelli founded BCC Evolution, a mental health and suicide awareness non-profit, in 2017 after losing her sister to suicide: “I didn’t know exactly what my sister was going through, although she had attempted suicide six other times. I just didn’t understand, nor did I have the knowledge, the understanding, or any of the skills or tools or resources that I have today. But I did know after she passed that I wanted to help people, whether it be one person or millions of people.
“I originally was hyper-focused on the suicide prevention aspect. However, I found that a mental health challenge, whether it be for a moment or a lifetime, potentially leads people to complete the act of suicide. So if we can get to that root cause, that’s the ultimate goal of BCC and really making people feel heard, understood, and more aware of how they can help others.”
What Does BCC Evolution Do?
Kelli then shared about some of the resources and programs that BCC offers: “We start with our Shift Your Mindset Bootcamp, which is really designed for those that are struggling with mental health and negative thought cycles.
“And then, we have our Mental Health for State classes. And those just teach you how to identify, recognize and assist those that may be experiencing a mental health or substance use challenge.
“We also have our own curriculum, which is called Breaking the Cycle of Trauma and teaches ‘What do I say to somebody? What do I do? Why does trauma affect our brains? How can I be resilient and help myself through self-care?’ And then we hear stories from three individuals that have lived experience of trauma and what has helped them through it.”
What are Some of the Current Mental Health Struggles You’re Seeing?
In her work, Kelli sees a lot of lingering effects from COVID-19: “As humans, we are not conditioned to be isolated. So that’s often what I’m hearing is the fear around what it looks like to be social and safe again. But then also this shift in society of people not having the space to have open and honest conversations. But one of the cool things that is happening is that the newer generations are so much more open about whether it be their gender or the conversation around how they’re feeling, right?
How do Sleep and Mental Health Affect One Another?
Kelli shares that many of the people she speaks to through her non-profit struggle with sleep: “I do notice that a lot of times when people come to me that’s what they say, ‘I’m not sleeping. I’m not eating right. I’m not doing XYZ properly.’ And I know now that sleep is huge because that’s how our bodies heal, and [sleep] can heal our minds and everything else that’s going on with us. If we’re lacking in sleep, then it manifests all sorts of different illnesses and diseases in our bodies.”
Advice for Working Through Mental Health and Sleep Issues
Kelli shares her advice for improving mental health and sleep: “When I’m working with somebody, my ultimate goal is to get to the root cause of whatever’s going on. Like, if they wake up every single morning at 04:00 a.m. and can’t go back to sleep, then we look at what is the root cause of that. Oftentimes it can or what I’ve seen is it may be related to either a pattern or a trauma that might have happened at that time.
“And then, before going to bed, put your phone away. Allow your brain the space to start relaxing. Because oftentimes we constantly have a cell phone in front of our face, and we’re like, oh, I can just do one more thing. But set the boundaries for yourself.”
What Mental Health Issues are Teenagers Facing?
Kelli sees children and teenagers struggling to unplug which leads to a lack of communication: “We don’t know how to have confrontations with people. The other thing is that bullying has gotten so much worse because you can’t get away from it. When we were growing up, we didn’t have technology, so you’d go to school and get bullied, but then you could go home and disconnect. But now it follows them everywhere they go because of technology. So it’s important, especially with youth in general, is to be able to limit screen time and also knowing what they’re doing on the screens.”
Reach Out if You’re Struggling with Mental Health
Kelli ends with an encouragement to reach out if you’re struggling: “It’s absolutely okay to not be okay. It’s also okay to ask for help. And it’s really, really hard to do that, but it is really important. And I promise you, somebody is out there that will listen. And if nobody is, you are more than welcome to reach out to BCC Evolution. You can send emails to [email protected]. We also have tons of resources on our website. Find somebody that you trust and have that conversation.”
More from Kelli Reinhardt
If you’d like to hear more from Kelli Reinhardt about BBC Evolution and mental health, listen to the complete episode wherever you get your podcasts. You can also follow BCC Evolution on Facebook and Instagram. Lastly, BCC Evolution needs your support to continue offering their amazing mental health programs. If you or someone you love has struggled with mental health, please consider donating.