In this episode, TN Voices CEO Rikki Harris and COO Will Voss talk with Monty Burks, PhD, CPRS, Director of Faith Based Initiatives for the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services. The three discuss how faith, in whatever form that may take, has not only given them a second chance, but also given them the tools they need to help others connect to mental health and recovery.
and it is a podcast of Tennessee voices about mental health, featuring stories of people who have overcome mental health challenges, as well as those who have helped people overcome mental health challenges. This podcast is about authenticity. And it's intended to give a voice to those who are passionate about mental well being. We hope that by sharing stories, listeners understand mental health and just how important it is in our day to day lives, and they will help us reduce stigma. We want you to know that so many who have struggled with mental health can and did overcome their challenges. And if you are struggling, you can too. I'm your host, Ricky Harris, CEO, Tennessee voices, and with me is my favorite co host, Wilbur Ross, CEO of Tennessee voices. Welcome to our podcast. Let's get candid. We're super excited for this episode of candid I am here with my co host will Vox. It's amazing. Hey, today we have a guest that we are well and I really excited to talk to you today Monty because there is like something in the air like things are swirling conversations about mental health and spirituality have just been like oozing in the last 48 hours. But for me for the last couple of months. So let's start with this. You introduce yourself. Tell us what you do, what your title is, where you work, and why your shirt says continue. But anyway, I'll Absolutely So my name is Monty Burks. I'm the director of faith based initiatives with the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services. My job is to connect our faith communities to the behavioral health care continuum and to help them build recovery ministries, be part of the recovery conversation, understand the continuum of care, prevention, treatment, recovery, criminal justice, all of that is part of this unique, amazing story that's going to be one of the greatest stories ever told, as it continues to unfold throughout the course of our history. You know, we're we're all boots on the ground from the beginning to where we are now we've seen it all. So that's actually part of what continued means It means our story continues. That's what recovery means. You know, sometimes people's false narrative, not understanding what recovery actually means. They think that that we've recovered, because they tell us that we have or that we've been through a program or we went through a 12 step. But the story continues to continue to continue. And you know, and that's what that means. And that's how it correlates with my work is our faith communities are connected across all of these different veins in the communities to help the story continue. Because long after all three of those are gone, those faith communities are still going to be standing. And we have to make sure we have resources for them so the stories can keep going. I love that. I love that. And I love that shirt badly. I just think that I have a friend who has the semicolon tattoo. Yeah, that's what it means just today not to be continued as continued. Yes, that's right. And you work for the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services. And you've been there for how long? I've been there for eight years in this role. Before I work with the department did contract work with the department as the one of the original project lifeline coordinators, which is a program that I actually oversee now, I was one of the first ones that was tasked with reducing the stigma related to the disease of addiction. So we went out and kind of planted seeds and tilled soil for some time to start the conversations on what the other side of addiction looked like. And we you know, evolved to being the voice behind people with mental health issues, mental health concerns, mental health awareness, and I know we're going to talk about all that, but it's kind of the all of the work is it's behavioral health. It's all of us together fighting the same fight. We just have to take it from different angles. Yeah, no. Monty, you talk a lot about your project lifeline and you mentioned something that is it's been a topic for a number of years you said the the disease of addiction. Now some people say that you know, addiction isn't is a disease and some say that it is Why do you personally call it disease? Brain Science man, follow the science, you know, look at look at what you know me myself. I'm personally I'm in recovery. I've spent 21 years free from the bondage that almost destroyed me and my family. So when my recovery wall, I tried to quit it and obviously, you know, I was like, Hey, maybe I should stop using but every time I stopped using I didn't understand the cravings, the anxiety, the depression or the withdrawals. All of these things happened to me, which are technically you know, it was because I had retrain my brain to act a certain way. I changed the chemistry in my brain later through through research development and me sitting down just asking those honest questions and listening to some other professionals. I found out that this is what this cost to my body is cognitive internal trauma. And then I'm also a person, I have a stent in my chest, I've got to stay in my heart a heart attack a few years what a while back. And I found out that you can change and alter your body's chemistry with intake, they can produce an outcome. And it's the same way with drug use. And it's still it, that's where the disease comes from. And so to those who are on the fence that don't really understand that, respectfully, let's not divide ourselves on that part of it. And let's figure out like we're, we contribute things that cause these things. And there's also some genetic factors, let's just figure out how we can work together to figure that out, because the arguments always come respectfully. It's almost like the comment section versus common sense. And I don't ever let any comment, Comments Section rhetoric, determine how I treat other people in the net. That way, it kind of shapes the conversation a little different. I'm also super conservative from Rare rural America, I get it. Sometimes people have different backgrounds, different different, different educational backgrounds, different expertise in different professions. So I can understand why the person that doesn't is not involved in the scientific world might not understand or believe when somebody says addiction is a disease, because the only side of addiction they've seen is somebody doing something to them or taking something from them, or hurting someone in their family. So finding those comfortable correlates through cultural competent conversation, we've been able to find that you know what, maybe we see it different. But we still have the same goal. Our purpose is to try to combat this is why I was so excited to have you on because I knew you would come straight to your personal experience. And that is what this podcast is all about is talking to people who are willing to share their life experience in order to help someone else. So your story of recovery, you just kind of briefly laid it out for us. But how did you how did you get to the point of being 21 years? You said? Yes. Great question. So I'm going to answer the question in a couple of different ways. But one is, I want to give credit to you, Ricky a wheel is people like you that helped my story continue. You know, I have the space to openly talk about my vulnerabilities and what I've been through. And if it wasn't for people like you that were willing to understand and stop sweeping me under the rug, and then trying to tell my story. I think that a lot of my recovery process was I've always I was a radical out there on the streets and will be a radical in my recovery. It is what it is I'm loud. I've always been loud, you know, come from a martial art background and punching and kicking since I was born. When I needed help, I couldn't find anybody to talk to because people didn't everybody was quiet. And I know anonymity is a great piece of the recovery community. But the other side of that was I couldn't find the leadership I needed I needed that I needed to see people say that this is what the other side of addiction looks like. Okay, I'm I live with a mental health concern that I cope ideal I manage all of these other things people needed to tell that story and I think a culture at one point we were more of a law and order culture the I'm talking about the TV show, every time we talked about addiction, all you saw was people like hiding their purse or or incarcerated somebody, it was always one of these these super dramatic stories, but not the real side of this thing is is like human, this is human capital. Like these are people that are going down this this drain. And so I was the reason I was able to to, to get ahead of and stay ahead of and still constantly stay connected with the recovery community in my sobriety was because I found people like you, one of my college professors was the first person that I reached out to he got me to go back to school. Some of his words were, this is the beginning of your career. When I told him that I said, I'm going through something man, I've got to go to a treatment program. I know what treatment you want him to call treatment, something else. That's what I was gonna go through a program. He said, Cool, learn everything you can from it. He said, Because this will this will be what you can build your career off of. He didn't realize that he was a revolutionary visionary before we even had people like you ready that do the same thing with everybody that walks through your doors, you coach them into saying, Listen, this is your game, you figure out how to play your four quarters, and the outcome is going to be your win no matter what happens. And so I had those people in my life and that's what kept me you know, moving and going and continuing. If it had not been for people like you and if it wasn't for people like you guys, we wouldn't exist because the world would continue to put people in a box that was different and keep them in that box and then tell the story about the box while not letting the box tell its own story. Wow. I've got to absorb that let the box tell its own story. I mean, I I'm just thinking about the number of times I sit and listen to someone speak about someone else's journey. And that it gives me chills because it was so motivating to will and I to have the people tell us about their journey. That's That's really amazing. Your name faces and voices, like these people have a voice. You know, it's cool to see people on a mural. And it's great. Let's hear their voice. Let's let's let them tell their story I love when people from the outside in other disciplines tell our story respectful. But every once in a while they get their Burbidge wrong terminology wrong, they use words that may trigger a person that's not part of this community to look at us a certain way through the whole story. So when the wrong language, the wrong little itty bitty dive into something that's to criminal justice related to incarceration related to something, the person's going to the whole time, they're going to treat me or my conversation about me, how they look at me, how you look at somebody is how you treat them. So if you don't look at them as less than a human being, or somebody that's less than you, Bill, great. I don't want you to be sympathetic toward me, I want to be empathetic with me. And that's letting the box tell its own story. Monty, you know, you talk about words and stories and hearing voices. It's, you know, hearing people's stories, you've got a powerful story. And I hope you know that. And it's something that stood out earlier, you know, we so often say, being on your mental health journey or your recovery journey, and earlier on this call, you called it a walk, your recovery walk, and it made me think no, maybe that's how we need to start approaching this, letting people know that this journey may take a while. And you don't have to hop on it and start running. Think of it as a walk. Think of it as a walk. Building muscle memory, so you crawl, then you walk, then you run, it's a step by step process. And sometimes how we got to crawl to it means we're at the bottom of the barrel, we hit rock bottom, and we have to crawl the stand. And then we have to stand and then we walk, I correlate my recovery journey. My walk is building muscle memory, like you build in the gym, each day, I have to lift and push and pull and remove the bad and continue to add the good and know that it's an ever evolving world we live in, which means relapse triggers take new forms and new faces. Be always aware of what those relapse triggers are, what they can be what they could be. And then part of my recovery wheel is you know, I hit all 12 out after my 12 step, I go back and look. And it all meant something different to me because my scales off of my eyes had been removed. So now I can go back and re reevaluate those 12 and be able to articulate that to somebody else as I walk and walk with them. You know, I'll you know, you guys know I'm a I'm a church guy, you know, from the Christian faith. I stand proud of my faith. I work with people who don't believe what I believe actually, I work with a lot of people who believe anything. Cool. Let's have a cup of coffee, pass me some cake. So that's the way I roll with that. I don't bet right now. Not yet. It does not bother me at all. Matter of fact, I think that the things that uniquely separate us can actually pull us together in a central point to save somebody's life. Because I can't reach everybody. And I know I can't, it's not going to happen. But you know, understanding other cultures may help us be able to open those doors. Man is something powerful about a group of people to sit down in a room that can get away from all differences and focus on a purpose, and then help somebody help themselves. I guess that's the most amazing, you know, godly gift that has ever been given to any of us. My buddy Kurt Johnson, he's a lifelong court, he calls it the gift of desperation. And I agree with him, because we desperately tried to figure out ways to get in get ahead of the opioid epidemic. And then what came after the opioid epidemic and then the stigma around mental health is one of the other things it could because people are so quick that girl, you crazy boy, crazy, Greg, I can't believe he can like it, I'll just pull yourself up, you ain't doing depressed, you just better get happy. Now we know that it doesn't work like that. We know that the process is much more intricate. But having those those those dual and tri quad voices come in from different communities and different aspects. We can look at a holistic part of a person and like you know what, I'm a fitness guru. I'm a mental health coach. I'm a I'm a speaker, I'm a mechanic, all four of those have a different role in helping somebody rebuild their lives. I love what you said about that centric point coming together putting differences aside, this is kind of what the podcast is to is we're going to talk about mental health we're going to talk about substance abuse we're gonna talk about whatever makes you feel any kind of way outside of what you think should be normal right? But then we're also at the same time on the potty is going to celebrate those differences between us because it takes all of us and I personally find a lot of joy in learning about other people's culture and their differences or backgrounds and who they are and what what makes them tick and so um, we have like, zoned through zoom straight in on your life and and the depth of your you know, recovery and all that good stuff on a zoom out for us. I can't because I'm sitting here talking to you and I'm if I close my eyes Marty, I hear my brother in law, who is from Pierre part Louisiana. And I'm going like Monty Monty sounds like my brother in law. My brother in law's Cajun. My brother in law speaks French and he tell me, who is Monty, what is your story? What's your background? What's your culture? What do you do? What do you like? I love it. I love to hear the Cajun me. So my mother was born in New Orleans. My family part of my family migrated up from that part of the country, many moons ago, but that we still have a lot of those traditional ways, especially with our cooking, we can get down with the Get down. We can fry. We'll be right back after this short break. Tn voices is now hiring qualified applicants to build positions all across the state, you can be part of a growing team that puts the mental health of Tennesseans first and thrive in a compassionate work environment to apply to join our team log on to tn voices.org/employment. Welcome back to everybody's neighborhoods, and everybody knew everybody I grew up in, you know, in the south, very, very wonderful culture. I'm countries I don't know what Ma'am, I, my family of martial martial arts people. I'm still I'm still a I'm a black belt in Brazilian jujitsu. It's actually one of the longest it's one of the longest classes you have to take a training you have to take to become a black belt of eight to 12 years is what it takes. It took me a little bit over 10 years to get back. I still teach jiu jitsu I work with some of our actually, I've worked with a lot of people in the middle health and substance abuse community, I try to get everybody to figure out these alternative ways to expend that energy. And you know, martial arts actually got one of our guys, we just gave him a we just up he just got a new belt. And he's a he's a person with lived experience and tells the story all over the world. And I've been an MMA guy fought in the MMA arena for some time, but won a couple of Big championships. You google my name, you can check me out on there. I didn't go into that. But it was fun. For me. Yes, it was fun times for me. But you know, that's, that's who I am. You guys see me, you know me, I wear a suit all the time. But the majority of the work I do is in a T shirt and a hat. I'm super recovery centric, I grew up I didn't have a lot growing up. So we work from the bottom to make make things for ourselves. So I understand that. Sometimes I think my mom growing up has helped me understand that all communities are not going to always be the same, but it doesn't make one equal or greater than or less than the other. It's incumbent on me as a person who has access to resources to make sure I translate on both sides, how these resources work. So I think that that's a blessing that's come from my upbringing. I'm also biracial. My mother's African American, my father's Caucasian German, Irish. My mother's part Native American, African American, I have a unique heritage. I love it, I embrace all of my wonderful things that I have going on. I wish I could cook in all those different cultures, I cannot. But the part that came up from the from the we call it the dirty dirty, that's new in New Orleans. We call it very dirty, dirty south Louisiana stuff came up with me. And that's when you pick up a little bit of accent. All I can say in French, those political francais. The rest of that is I don't even if you answer me, I don't even know what you say it. So that's a little bit about me. Please feel free to ask any questions that you want to ask. I'm proud to be who I am, where I'm from the things I went through. I don't glorify my bad parts of my past. But I'm not afraid to tell the story because I know it can connect somebody to a better lifestyle. Mm hmm. All right. Um, there's so many things you just said I want to I want to say first, so the part you were talking about, we all went our different ways on Sunday, when you're talking about being in a household with mom and dad on to religious differences, right. It immediately made me think of the the quote from Martin Luther King, Jr. That Sunday, still is the most segregated day. They even said like Sunday at the 11 o'clock hour, because that was like the most common time for, you know, our church services. I'm seeing a change in that in my church. But I'm 40. So until recently, I didn't I still saw what Martin Luther King Jr. was saying he saw what about you? What about you will Is that Is that true in your world? You know, we that quote stays always stuck with me for so long. And I think you know, people have looked at it as yes, this is the most segregated day of the year based on how much were we put a focus on religion versus spirituality. And we think, Well, what denomination are you? What denomination are you? I grew up seeing me. Very, very small population of us now I grew up going to Baptist churches. And then now, you know, as nondenominational so, people were trying to figure out what where do I fit in? And, you know, I push a lot of my friends and family to think of where are you getting fit the most? Where, where do you feel like you've found and connected to a great teacher, and you feel that, you know, starch is a good family to provide that support and my time of need, no matter what it is, you know, and really blending, Hey, are we talking about mental health? You know, in the database background, you know, I hear more and more leaders of faith based organizations, putting it in their sermons, and letting you know, their their congregation and followers know that they this is important to talk about, you got to keep that in the forefront of your mind is well, you know, Monty, you mentioned a lot of old things that that I've heard in the black community, you know, as far as I don't talk about it, or older person, do drugs. And we see that conversation trend changing. And and let you know, it's a good feeling, to be able to say, you know, what, we're not where we want to be. But we have come a long way. As far as how we're talking about addiction, how we're talking about mental health and other co occurring disorders. And to be a part of that, you know, Monty utilizing your voice, I don't think you realize how many people that you have impacted that you probably have never even met yet. And I think about you know, even when I first met you, you've been at the department for eight years, and I've been with Tennessee voices a little over six. People were like, You got to be Monty, you got to meet Monty, like, who is Monty who is Monty. And it was just our first initial conversation you talked about, you come to work dressed up. And this is who you are outside of your hat and t shirt, you're presenting yourself in a manner of with with humility, this is who I am, no matter what I have. And this is my story as I'm walking on this journey. So I absolutely loved it. And being able to be vulnerable in this moment, I've got to tell you, I appreciate that. And anyone listening definitely, definitely definitely does as well. And I remember that anyway. And I'm freaking out because I'm sitting here going like, Okay, you're describing this story of being, you know, in a household to different religions. And and now you're in a position of connecting all kinds of faith based communities on a topic that you're really passionate about and lives experience. That's got to feel like wow, my, my journey makes so much sense. Now, it does. Go back and look at Exodus And Moses. And all of the times that Moses rejected the teaching or rejected the word, he always had his own plan. But his foot his footsteps were already ordered. Sometimes we don't realize that, you know, and I mean, this was, you know, I respect all traditions, but I'm going to speak from mine. I believe that an anointing is put on all of us to do a certain thing. And then at the right and proper time, when we have come out of the wilderness wilderness ready to work in the appointment will come. And when that appointment comes, whether we want to walk in and or not, we will be used to do a mighty thing. And that's where I'm thankful to God and my family, my friends, and people like you again, I say it to you often, that without all of these tools and these resources, our workouts wouldn't work. Because that's, you know, it's a system. And the things that I went through brought me to you. I remember I can remember the first time I met both you Well, I remember the first time I met you, man, I met Rick, I remember the first time I met you at a at one of the council meetings where they were the whole state was together. That's the first time I met you. And I met we'll at a meeting and it was here in Nashville, we sit there talk for a minute, we just kind of chatted it up. I was like, Hey, how you doing? We just We talked for a couple of seconds. I think it's important that we all always make those interactions when we interface with each other, to put a face with a name. So that when the time comes for us to come out of the wilderness, we know exactly who we are. And it's time for us to do the great work. I think there are no introductions that don't go there. All of us are meant to do something. That's why we met each other. I was tickled to death when I was asked to be on your podcast because I got a lot of respect for you guys. Sounds like let me come on. So I gotta make sure I mean excited to be able to share I'm also just want to give you guys a lot of Thanks for the hard work you do. Because you know sometimes communities don't understand or respect the depth of what you do. I know from even where I work, sometimes people have no idea like what do you do exactly? Cool. Let me explain to you guys probably get the same thing. But for me, as a person will live experience a person that knows how community structures work and be the person that works for the city. I appreciate and applaud you, your work your staff, your team. I, you know, I said before this podcast started, I love to hear and see things. And you've been, you know, you impact me. I know that I have the real Superfriends all heroes don't wear capes. We don't. And I say we because I'm one of one of the Lorien heroes. I'm Ricky, well, we already know Ricky's one, you know, it is what it is. When we get to heaven, so my chest, you know. You're funny, you're funny. Well, I'm just, we love what you do, too. Because one of the things that I studied way back in the day, when I was still working on my graduate degree, was about how, in mental health treatment at the community based level, there is a desire for people who seek services to get help at an emotional or behavioral level. But there's also a desire at a spiritual level, and you're taught you kind of defined a little bit of spirituality, not as religion but as purpose as meaning as how I'm connected between myself and others. And for some between myself, others and God. And so you're helping the community kind of bring together, how can your purpose, your spiritual connection, help serve you to be strong and your mental health help move you to a place of finding that great joy in what you do and not getting lost in you know, difficult things that you can overcome? And you're you're out there doing everyday telling people how to do this, how to connect. And I think that's a really, that's really amazing. Talk about some of the places you go outside of churches. Where else are you out there? Oh, yes. So you know, man, I don't even know where to begin. I've been some work with our synagogues, mosques, temples, street ministries, homeless camps, I've been everywhere, one of the one of the messages that really resonates with me is to pick up your mat and walk. And there's a lot of people that don't, that haven't had the opportunity for someone to say that to them. To say that no matter you know, what we got in these communities and work with a lot of work with a lot of Tennessee, the majority of our faith based communities is the church is the Christian faith. So that's 87% of the people that I work with are from the Christian faith, but there's still these other small sections or centers or groups of communities, but the message is still the same. No matter how things have happened, no matter how heavy the weight has been, the fact that we can have this conversation now gives us a chance to pick up our mat and walk, and whatever that means to them. And whatever that means to me, this time the healing process begins. And we talked about it earlier with recovery walk, that's where I get that from, well, that's why I say that often is to pick up your mat and walk. And when you do that, you get to teach other people that this is what it looks like when you get up and walk it up. I'm not I mean, it's just anybody listening, I want to make sure they hear me right on this, I know that some people's situations are a lot deeper than mine. They've been affected, they've been traumatized a different level, different levels. And I have been with that being said, we can have this conversation, that means we have access to resources, which means that there's an opportunity to heal. And one of the things about going into these diverse communities, is I always share that message. And if somebody has something to say, I will shut everything down and listen to that one person. Because we don't know who our next president is going to be. My next governor is going to be our next senator is gonna be it might be that person standing right in front of us trying to tell us what has happened to them, and try to ask somebody is there anybody that can help me not realizing that we're just the tools, but the tools are going to be you to help yourself, we're gonna give you the tools to do it. So being in those communities out, you know, I went to one of our rural areas, Ricky, a few years back, and two different denominations which will hit over the head sometimes the denomination is working sometimes between denominations is harder than working between two different religions. And that is that is a how do we take that two ladies from two different denominations decided they were going to work together and do some recovery work? So their idea was they're both retired so they had a little bit of time on their hands. I call them seasons I don't like the word retirement season because they know more than I know and they more than they two grandmothers. That's the grandmothers of the most you underutilized weapon weaponized resource that we don't use in America. If you shoot a you shoot 20 grandmothers into a crowd of people acting up, I guarantee you all those people acting up are going to bow out and if they don't pay you, the switches will come from the person's anyway, that's a whole nother that's a whole other cultural conversation. But these two ladies were able to because of who they were, and because of them being a bit season lineage their area, we're able to work with the criminal justice community, they work with the jail, the judges, they work with the Prevention Coalition, they work with everything possible, the lady started putting people to work, they started taking people from the jail helping get him helping to get transported to treatment across the state, they did all of this because the community trusted them because of who they were. And that's one of the things I was I was able to be a part of getting resources to those ladies, because those ladies did a Narcan training. And actually were able to distribute Mark ham to a family in need, and some of those life get saved from it. And that was because they took it upon themselves in their position where they were, they recognized that we can be powerful in this space. And some people don't realize that when you have a space on it, whatever that space is, only if your space is only put in social media post once a day on it, do something positive with it, because that's the space that you have that you could possibly be part of someone's life being saved. And they did that they actually took these two ladies actually transported a person to treatment, they use the church van, and some donations from the community. And I'll tell you how they get donations, they don't ask, they tell you, you donate to this, because this is what we're doing period. I love their business model. It wouldn't work for me, but it worked for them. But they took a person from where they were about 202 110 miles west and got them got this person into a treatment program. And that person that went through that program now works alongside of them. This was like three, four years ago, this person now walks beside them. Actually this person is who they openly identify about, I'll let them tell their own story. But they're sorted by peer recovery specialist. Now they went through the training, and they serve these ladies in this ministry. But these are these are parts of the things that happen when we do something. If you do nothing, nothing happens if you do something, something happens. So sometimes to do something is to stand in front of a pulpit on a Sunday and talk about mental health and substance abuse and where people from the church can play into the plans of the part. You don't have an act have to have an acronym behind your name to help somebody. You just have to have a heart willing to do the work. And then you can work with the people with the letters behind their name to get people services later. It's all a wonderful, comfortable relationship. Oh, they can you talk Monday about you know, partner with folks. And you mentioned certified peer recovery specialist earlier and you yourself are certified peer recovery specialist. I was so excited when I got a chance to see in the news the other day about another partnership that you had formed to make change to which was partnering with Lipscomb University. Now is only not only was I proud because I went to school there because you did something that was new for the mental health programs over there at Lipscomb. So talk to listeners a little bit about kind of that collaboration with Lipscomb, what happened in what's the goal, what's the hope, man, Dr. Nash. She is a she is just a light in the dark man. She kicked man. She's your professor, my colleague, my friend. I call them my professor yesterday. She was she's she's something else man. Um, we were able to tell the cool thing about this. And I know Ricky, you'll appreciate this is one of my faith based coordinators attends Lipscomb University. He's in the Masters of clinical social work program. And he brought the conversation to his class, he started bringing these conversations out because we one of the things that we do people to work under the program is that obviously, I push everybody to go back to school. You have lived experience, let's let's attach that lived experience to your school and see if we can make a comfortable mix because this is how we re re invest into the behavioral healthcare workforce is people like you with lived experience. It's such a great opportunity where people will live experience to become clinicians, licensed clinical social workers have PhDs, MDS, all these things coming from people that understand how the system operates on both sides, understanding that sometimes the textbook while it's wonderful and great, it's only a schematic and things happen outside of the schematic. But his name is Jamie Harper. He's in a master's program saying actually he just graduated, we were able to connect the dots with Dr. Witherspoon and bring in one of our other lifeline peers. We've been focusing on recovery ally training. We had multiple conversations during COVID. And we said you know what Lipscomb campus is going to be a becoming recovery friendly campus. So we were able to start bison recovery. Now the coolest thing about this is Lipscomb is one of our most conservative universities, if not our most conservative university in the state of Tennessee. They were the first university to adopt a recover recovery ally revise and recovery full effect collegiate recovery movement in our state. They did it right there. And it was under Dr. Nash's leadership. And after Witherspoon, Nash told us that it wasn't just this the hyphenated part of her last name, Dr. Witherspoon Nash. It was her leadership and her understanding of how how these things work. And we were able to get that done man and you wouldn't have that the the the more the feeling College was my access to recovery. I went back to school and that community is what helped keep me clean to get me to where I met, you know, retraining the brain, man. It's all about building strong brains, right? You can build them when they're young, sometimes they get not built, right. So sometimes you have to strip the car rebuilding, she understands that we've got students that are coming in, they can benefit from this type of community. And now we have this full players recovery community. So that happened, we got six other Collegiate Recovery academies coming up. That was our first one, we have six other ones coming up over the course of the next four months. As long as you know, of course, the COVID numbers, though, what you know, depending on the Delta variant, and such, but her leadership has caused the butterfly effect that I actually mentioned on the on the White House Call yesterday, I did a webinar for the White House yesterday afternoon. And I talked about how low some college had adopted a collegiate recovery working with with a faith based initiative. And people still couldn't put together a collegiate recovery, faith based initiative. When we throw something that you will, yeah, let me throw something at you. Every single college in our state is surrounded by steeples. People that have to go to school don't always get their recovery on campus, but they need the congregations around them and be the resource they step right off of that ground and go into that a meeting that in a meeting that double trouble that about medicated assisted with whatever, whatever the meeting is, whatever the congregation holds, it's just another opportunity for access points. On the flip side of that adage, straight ministry driven we are doing ministry work outside the four walls of a sanctuary. That's what we're supposed to do fish on the other side of the boat, fish on the other side of the boat, man. Don't get me to preach. And I'm sorry, that's not what the podcast is for. I apologize. You know, I'm all I'm all about like reestablishment like giving people another chance. And sometimes it takes more than a second, it might take a third or fourth with a with a some of our with the sum of all our experiences. Sometimes the second chance people don't even see it because of everything that's happened to them in their life. They can't even accept the second chance they like, wow, I really cares enough about me. What do they want from me? Wow. You know, maybe I should go back to riding the bike that I've been trying to ride because this feels better to me. Anyway, I'm going back in two aces. But I'm sorry. I'll get the preaching y'all y'all y'all know how I am. I'm a real. Yes, Monty, you say you get to preach. And I had to kind of realize where I was for a minute because I almost said Amen a few times. The same will receive really I know Ricky said to save. We'll be right back after this short break. September is Suicide Prevention Month. And there are things each of us can do to help prevent suicide. Every year at this time lifeline and other mental health organizations and individuals across the US and around the world. Raise awareness of suicide prevention. If you are having suicidal thoughts, call 1-800-273-8255 and head to t and voices.org. For mental health resources, including our newly renovated online library. You can be the one to prevent suicide this month, and all your mom by gaining tools and knowledge to foster better mental health for yourself. And those around you. Welcome back just like round robin, let's go around and say what was your second chance? What was your What was that second chance that made the difference? I mean, small, big, it doesn't matter. What was that second chance that you'll always look back and go, Oh my gosh, I'm grateful that I got that. Who wants to go first? Oh. We're gonna we'll right now. I've got a bunch of second chances. I'll start. My biggest Second Chance was I went to a class that class on a criminal justice professor. I went to talk to him. Because at that point, I knew I was going to have to, I needed to go to treatment. I had to get out of school to stop going to school. I had to get myself together. So I had to stop. Um, he at that point when he told me that this is the beginning of your story of your career. That was the first time anybody ever said that anything to me like that. And that was the beginning. That was the catalyst explosion that happened. That was my bang, right? There's like this, I can do this. i It wasn't easy. Like it's like to me, I felt like he wasn't going to give me another chance because I failed. But to me, I would the only person that thought I failed was me, wasn't him. He said you did this is your opportunity. So my obstacle became an opportunity, because he told me that I could. He told me that I could. So that's my second chance story. That's just as one of a million, but that's one that sticks with me pretty good. I love that. That's awesome. Well, that there is plenty of me, the story that really comes to mind is when I was graduating from undergrad from Ole Miss, and I couldn't find a job down there. I retired, I couldn't find a job down there. I wanted to be in DC, but I knew I didn't want to go on and get my masters at that time. So I end up having to move back home. And I feel like that would that's a second chance. You know, it was my parents saying, you know, have faith, it's gonna work out, it's going to come to you. Because at that time, I felt that I was losing it. Like, you know what, I was supposed to have all this together on graduation day. And it was always remembering, you know what, I'm thankful that I was even able to go back home and have that place to and that support to go to I tell a lot of kids students now I leave home the right way. Because you never know, you may have to go back. And I think it was them being able to give me that chance to, like, come back. We're still here for you. It's going to work out. Just remember, remember what your values. Yeah. That's awesome, man. That's awesome. You're awesome person. So the product of that second chance is you right here right now? Absolutely. Yeah. I mean, I have one big one. And it makes all the other ones seem not even important anymore. Because I was born dead. I'm not supposed to be alive. And I very much my mother said to me, no one can explain it. It doesn't make sense. You weren't supposed to live. And when when you did when you started breathing. It was so much time elapsed between I mean, they don't know when I stopped breathing in the womb to the point of delivery. But it was at least 20 minutes and CPR of CPR that they were like, Let's be prepared this. She he lost much oxygen to our brain. She'll never be okay. And my mom was a woman of faith. And she refused to accept that. And she prayed and prayed and prayed and said, I don't know what your plan is for her Lord. But I know there is one and and so you know, sometimes when I think about that, I think was that my second chance being born dead? Or was it being born again later? Right as a seven year old? That wasn't my real second chance. But yeah, that that was it. And as you were talking and I was thinking about those chances, I was like, wow, you know, I think I think that's really cool. Because we can all connect to a time when we got that chance. Thank you for sharing that. That's That's me. That's so that's a much respect to you and your mother. She's boys story without crying and I'm 40 years old and she's still a little lip quivers. When she starts to tell it. I'm like, I know, Mom. I know. But I'm here I made it. So we all three no bubbles prayer warriors don't. Yes. Yes. Well that I learned a lot. Monty, first of all, thank you for your vulnerability. Thank you for your openness. Thank you for what you do every day and how you committed your life to others. And that's kind of what this is all about to what we've met some pretty altruistic people. Wow, your altruism is it's off the chart. So thanks for being there for people doing what you do and podcast. We love it so much that you joined us today. Thank you for letting me come on y'all. My friends, my colleagues. Thank you for joining us. If you enjoy today's program, like subscribe and review this podcast. If you or someone you know is in need of mental health support services, log on to tn voices.org or call one 806 70988 to join us next time as we get candid