"How are you?" has never been such a loaded question. From the COVID-19 pandemic to civic and racial strife to the economic downturn, everyone’s on stress-overload. Listen in as host William C. Moyers talks with Princess Drake, PsyD, about practical mental health self-care strategies and helpful professional resources. The takeaway? Pay attention to your mental health needs and reach out if you're struggling: "It's okay to not be okay," says Drake. "Even therapists need therapists."
0:00:13 William Moyers
Welcome to another interview in this series of Let's Talk podcasts. Brought to you by the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation. I'm your host, William C. Moyers, and each podcast, I sit down with an expert to discuss the issues that are at the essence of Hazelden Betty Ford's mission. From prevention of substance use and cutting-edge research, to treatment, recovery support, and how technology is increasingly become a force of hope and help and healing for people, families, and their communities in the battle to overcome addiction. We are recording this podcast in the midst of the pandemic of coronavirus. And this requires us to take precautions here in the studio. That means that our guest, Dr. Princess Drake, and I are in separate rooms. But our focus is the same today. Mental health awareness in the workplace in the midst of a crisis. Dr. Drake serves as an Adjunct Professor at the Hazelden Betty Ford Graduate School of Addiction Studies. Among her many other academic and professional accomplishments, she has her doctorate in Clinical Psychology at Florida School of Professional Psychology. She earned it in 2018. Welcome, Dr. Drake. For being here.
0:01:24 Dr. Princess Drake
0:01:24 William Moyers
And tell us about—a little bit about your passion for working in the field of addiction treatment.
0:01:33 Dr. Princess Drake
So much of what we do as a mental health practitioner we're trained in a generalist sense. Where we're able to work with any and every population. But what I love about working with addiction specifically is the people. I have found the most genuine people to work with that are suffering in a way that most people don't understand. And so, when I'm able to see a patient transform from the day they come in for detox until they leave, with a smile, it makes it all that much more enjoyable to keep doing.
0:02:04 William Moyers
Thank you for what you're doing. We're here to talk of course about mental health awareness in the midst of the crisis—whatever the crisis is, but certainly the pandemic—and that mental health awareness in the workplace. Why is it important that we focus on mental health awareness in the workplace?
0:02:21 Dr. Princess Drake
Yes, so much of what we do as practitioners we serve other people. But often times at the expense of ourselves. And so what I've noticed working during this period of time where I haven't had a day off unless I was already scheduled. That a lot of the practitioners are stressed out themselves. And so we're constantly trying to give all of ourselves to our patients but we often neglect our own self-care. And so it's been my priority when I talk to clinicians to not only tell 'em how I appreciate what they're doing, that they continuously come to work, to provide that care, but also that what are they doing to help themselves.
0:02:56 William Moyers
So you're having that conversation with the clinicians but shouldn't the rest of us who are in the workplace also have that conversation?
0:03:02 Dr. Princess Drake
Absolutely. So much of what we do whether you're a clinician, whether you're in housekeeping, whether you're serving food, everyone is important. And during this time where everyone's lives are changing personally, it's even more important that people recognize that what they can do for themselves. Whether that's a day off, whether that's taking time with their children, or most of all, sometimes we just need time to ourselves.
0:03:24 William Moyers
So how does a colleague who wants to convey precisely what you just talked about to another colleague, is it okay just to approach that person and have that conversation?
0:03:33 Dr. Princess Drake
One thing that I love about working for Hazelden is a lot of times, they're approaching us. And it's this open conversation that we're having 'cause that relationship has already been built. And so it's how are you doing? And we know that it goes beyond just saying 'Okay' or 'Fine.' Or 'I'm making it.' But they really tell you how they're doing. And then you offer your help in any way—is there anything that I can do to help you in that way? Though I may not have any power to let someone have a day off, we may talk about just different self-care techniques that they can use.
0:04:04 William Moyers
What are some of those self-care techniques?
0:04:07 Dr. Princess Drake
One of the things that I always tell people—I like to practice what I preach. [Moyers chuckles] And so often times, it's you know planning time for yourself. Whether that's you know doing your hair or nails, or watching a movie, listening to music, drawing, reading, whatever helps that person come back to a state of calm for themselves is what they can use. Self-care doesn't have to be this big thing or big ordeal. Often times we think about self-care as this 'Oh it has to be for an hour.' If it only takes five minutes to do a meditation or a prayer or what have you, that's all sometimes that we need.
0:04:42 William Moyers
So in these times—we've got the pandemic of coronavirus, and it's been with us now for about four months here in the United States. And it's been with us at Hazelden Betty Ford in terms of our awareness and the actions that we're taking during that same period of time. We've had the civic and racial strife that's occurred on the streets of our country and you and I are in Minnesota, this is really where a lot of this started of course as we know. Of late. We've got the economic downturn. And—and even we've had at Hazelden Betty Ford the need to take some actions you know in terms of watching our expenses and so on. That's included furloughs. I mean this is a unique time, isn't it?
0:05:22 Dr. Princess Drake
Yeah. It is because we're seeing it hit from every single front. [Moyers nods] Not just at work. As a person of color myself, it has been extremely stressful when it comes to managing my own frustration or agitation with what's going on. But also being an advocate for change. And so, often times that takes me to be uncomfortable to talk about these things whether in the workplace or at home. I'm very fortunate enough to work for a team where we've been very transparent about what we're going through. And being able to help each other. So that we can be effective for our patients.
0:05:56 William Moyers
Thank you so much for bringing it up. I agree with you, Hazelden Betty Ford has been good. On recognizing these—these unique dynamics and communicating it and making—make sure everybody's inclusive. We're Hazelden Betty Ford, we get a lot of people watch these podcasts that have nothing to do with our organization. They just wanna glean the wealth of information that people like you have. What would you tell an organization or a company, a for-profit or a not-for-profit? How can they better instill the dynamics of healthy mental health into their workplace?
0:06:31 Dr. Princess Drake
That's a great question. One of the things I would probably tell them is making sure that they have available services for their employees. Such as an EAP. And if someone doesn't feel comfortable using an EAP, being aware of the mental health services that are in their direct community. Secondly, I would offer up that person to recognize to be transparent. Sending out a message, letting them know that they recognize that their employees, staff, or faculty may be having a difficult time right now and offer their support in any way that they can. Whether that's a day off or having someone assist them in terms of their day-to-day activities. Thirdly, I would also encourage that specific organization to continue to advocate. Not only for their employees, but what we do or provide. In terms of services.
0:07:21 William Moyers
Thank you. On a personal note, or getting closer to home, what is it that you find, you specifically find most rewarding in regards to working with people with co-occurring disorders?
0:07:32 Dr. Princess Drake
What I find to be the most rewarding is recognizing that it's just not about addiction, it's just not about mental health—it's both. And recognizing that they play off of each other more times than we often think. We know that statistically, you're more likely to see someone having both mental health and substance use. And so when you tackle both of those, I always say you're getting double for your trouble. [Moyers laughs] In a way. Because you're increasing your probability of staying sober. And so why not take care of the mental health concerns that a person may have? Whether it's a true mental health disorder or just additional stress.
0:08:06 William Moyers
You know, on that note, I wanna—and I probably should have asked this first but what do you see going forward? Given everything that's happened in the country, and continues to happen, what do you see in terms of demand or the need for substance use services and mental health services? Not just at Hazelden Betty Ford but in the larger community and in the larger country.
0:08:30 Dr. Princess Drake
I know that I was recently watching the news and they talked about this mental health pandemic. That's going to occur after COVID. Or even during. And so recognizing that you're gonna get a wave of individuals who either have not sought treatment during this time because of needing to isolate or quarantine, but also recognizing that their caregivers are also gonna need that assistance. And so, I anticipate that there's going to be a wave of individuals who've either never have sought treatment before or are seeking treatment again. Because we have people who have returned to use just because of the current stress. And so being prepared for that.
0:09:07 William Moyers
And on that note, before we close, some people who will be tuning in might be looking for help. They might be looking for a wise word from you or some avenue of opportunity to—to take that first step. Or that first step again. What is the message you have in closing for people who are struggling, whether they're in the workplace or not?
0:09:31 Dr. Princess Drake
That it's okay to not be okay. [Moyers chuckles, Drake smiles] And I often tell people even therapists need therapists. [Both laugh]
0:09:40 William Moyers
And that's true today and that'll be true going forward.
0:09:42 Dr. Princess Drake
0:09:43 William Moyers
Well Dr. Princess Drake, thank you so much for bringing your passion, your expertise, and your ability to communicate so effectively to our audience today. It's been great to have you as part of our Let's Talk podcasts.
0:09:56 Dr. Princess Drake
Thank you so much for having me.
0:09:57 William Moyers
You're welcome. [turns to camera] And thanks to all of you for tuning in. Be sure to keep coming back for more in our series of Let's Talk podcasts. On behalf of our Executive Producer, Lisa Stangl, and all of us at Hazelden Betty Ford, please stay safe, stay healthy, in these times, and always.