Changing The Stigma of Mental Health

Changing The Stigma of Mental Health

by Susan Neuhalfen

You might remember #22Kill from the Push-Up Challenge that swept social media a few years back. People all over the world were doing 22 push-ups to bring awareness that on average 22 veterans per day commit suicide.  That is a very real statistic for those suffering from PTSD as well as our wounded warriors. More veterans are lost to suicide here in the United States than to combat overseas.

#22Kill is responsible for bringing that awareness to a global level and now they have expanded to help these veterans more than ever before. Just recently, #22Kill merged with Stay the Course, an agency focused strictly on providing cost-effective counseling, community resources and education to veterans, first responders, and their families.

“The merger marked the beginning of the transformation of #22Kill from a group focused on awareness to a mental health organization, providing traditional and non-traditional therapies,” said Tempa Sherrill, Chief Clinical Officer for #22Kill and co-founder of Stay the Course.  “We try to remove the barriers so that veterans, first responders, and their families have access to the care they need.”

Sherrill’s experience comes from enduring a struggle with her own husband, an OEF Combat Veteran, which included marital and family issues, secondary trauma, and the loss of his job due to his Post Traumatic Stress diagnosis. They developed a passion for helping others going through similar circumstances, and founded Stay the Course.

Through this merger, #22Kill can now treat the whole family of veterans (of any era and any discharge status) and first responders and provide individual, couples, and family therapy. These therapies address behavioral and trauma disorders such as PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and MST (Military Sexual Trauma), substance abuse, suicide prevention, and developmental and behavioral issues in children. They also offer evidence-based therapies such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR).

“We offer a minimum of six no-cost sessions to start,” said Sherrill. “Then we apply for grants and different types of funding and if they qualify for any of those programs we pull together as many no-cost sessions as possible. “ After that, #22Kill charges for the sessions starting at $10 sliding scales keeping therapy as affordable as possible for those who need it.

A big part of #22Kill has always been peer-based programs. Many veterans volunteer to help their fellow soldiers through the process of healing. Now the merger has created new non-traditional therapy programs that are also peer-based. For example the Wind Therapy Program includes a motorcycle education class, obtaining a license to ride, peer support motorcycle builds and, of course, rides. They also have outdoor retreats for hunting, fishing, and other activities.

One of their most popular new peer-based programs is Tribal Council (based on their motto: One Tribe One Fight), a peer to peer support group available to any veteran or first responder. It is offered twice a month at their Dallas location and starting in January at their Ft. Worth location.

With all of the expansion, everything has grown at #22Kill. The staff has doubled and the number of advocates and volunteers has grown nationwide, but their mission has never changed: helping veterans and first responders get the help they need whether it be legal, medical, educational, or just emotional support.

“We don’t have brick and mortars in other states yet, but we have a huge national database for referrals,” said Sherrill. “If someone needs help, we’ll find a place where they can get help.” If someone you know needs help, email or call 682.990.6242.

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