Episode 12: Bonus Episode: The Nevada Resilience Project

Kendal Holcomb and Diana Lara share information about the Nevada Resilience project. The Nevada Resilience Project supports families and individuals experiencing struggles and behavioral health challenges. This important resource helps to connect people with local resources, and access care. Within this episode we discuss mental health statistics for the state of Nevada, and what are some of the biggest needs that Resilience Ambassadors are seeing within the state.

Kendall Holcomb, Public Information Officer

Kendall Holcomb previously worked in the media industry for the last decade, after getting her B.A. in Communications Studies. She is passionate about telling peoples’ stories, and sharing information with her community so they can be as informed as possible. This led to a natural transition to working with the Nevada Resilience Project, as well as mental health and substance use programs for the state. During her free time, she enjoys back-county skiing with her husband and their dog, reading on the couch with their cat, or jumping out of planes as she pursues additional licenses in skydiving.

Diana Lara, Washoe Human Services Agency

Diana recently graduated from the University of Nevada, Reno with a Bachelor’s in Public Health and a Minor in Biochemistry. Her passion for public health started when she volunteered for numerous non-profit organizations throughout Washoe county and realized how rewarding it was to give back to the community. Diana has future plans of pursuing a Nursing degree from UNR and become a Public Health Nurse focusing in preventative care for the underserved communities and improving health at the community level. Through her recent role as a Resilience ambassador, Diana is excited to be able to assist families and individuals experiencing hardships during the pandemic. In her free time, she enjoys cooking, baking, spending time with her fiancé and three dogs, cycling, and yoga.

Key terms: Nevada, Mental Health Statistics, Local Resources, Access to Care, Resilience

Episode Transcript

CASAT Podcast Network

Welcome to season two of CASAT Conversations.

I am your host Heather Haslem.

This season we will explore the timely and complex topic of resilience for healthcare providers.

Within each conversation, you will hear from experts, clinicians and providers who will explore and share the latest research, best practices and applications for how to be resilient.

Please enjoy today’s conversation.

We are excited to welcome Kendall Holcomb and Diana Lara from the Nevada Resilience Project.

Kendall is a public information officer who is passionate about sharing people’s stories and information with the community to help shine a light on mental health and substance use programs for the state of Nevada.

Diana is passionate about giving back to her community by assisting families and individuals during the pandemic through her role as a resilience ambassador.

Welcome.

We are happy to have you both here to share about this important work happening within the state of Nevada Hi Heather, thank you.

So as we get started, Kendall, can you tell us about the Nevada Resilience Project and how it came to be?

Yeah, of course.

Uh the Nevada Resilience Project was launched last year in 2020 in response to COVID-19 specifically to help individuals or families who were experiencing stress anxiety.

Um in response to the pandemic, we came about in part because of grant funding from FEMA and SAMHSA because we recognized that the mental health impacts of Covid, We’re just having such a huge huge again impact on, on our statement on Nevadans.

Um we actually had pulled data from what’s called the CDCs mental health pulse survey which looks at how people should have indications of anxiety or depression.

And we kind of compared those numbers with current statistics to, you know previously before, before Covid had hit.

And in Nevada we saw an increase of people saying that they were having these symptoms of anxiety and or depression increased 3 to 4 to fold.

Um and it really hasn’t unfortunately gone down a lot.

Um I actually had just pulled the info right before this meeting Just to kind of see where we’re at.

And Nevada consistently is ranking in the in the highest or top 10 states across the country with those symptoms.

So obviously that’s really unfortunate and the Nevada Resilience Project came about in a response to address that.

So our ambassadors like Diana are there to help build coping strategies.

They can help people find local resources, we assist with job loss, housing, insecurities, isolation, um people who might be having issues accessing their care.

And our program specifically is of no cost and all of our participant information is confidential.

Um If we do a warm handoff with providers or additional resources in the community, obviously that that’s up in the air in terms of your insurance but our program, our staff are available for free, you know that we are in the top 10 at least.

Um and that so many Nevadans are experiencing anxiety and depression.

Um and then the impacts of that on our communities.

Um So thank you for the work that you guys do and the Nevada Resilience Project to help support people um who are struggling in the state.

Yeah, absolutely Diana, what has been one of the most impactful moments for you since becoming a resilience ambassador?

Hi Heather.

Well first of all thanks for having Kendall and I here today um I’ve had so many impactful moments and they’re all unique and different, but one that really kind of stuck with me was this gal that I had reached out to, she was a senior and she also had a disability and she was going through a lot of stress um and a lot of Nevada and I’m sure especially within Washoe County I’m sure can relate to her situation and um in her case she was renting a home that was going to be put up for sale um and so she was having a hard time finding housing affordable housing because she was you know on disability, so she was on a very limited income and so you know she had spent all this money on application fees um just to be you know rejected after rejection, she also had two little dogs um so a lot of places weren’t accepting her application, she didn’t have the best of credit, so there was just a lot going on with this poor gal um but you know we were able to come up with the plan and address her most uh stressful, you know situation things that are happening in her life and obviously housing was one of them um And so we were able to eventually after a lot of work find her a new home to live in with her two dogs because a lot of the places were telling her hey you’re gonna have to get rid of you know one of your dogs unfortunately you know you can’t have two dogs here and she was like she put her foot down, she’s like Diana I am not leaving any of my animals behind.

Um So we found the perfect place for her um in addition to you know finding her other services um like I mentioned she had a disability so she needed help getting you know from point A to point B um we were able to help find help as far as moving assistance um she you know she was also stressing on not being able to find people to help her to move um but we were able to you know check all that off her list and um you know we actually became really good, had a really good connection and even to this day you know we we still chat.

Um she has dioxins and I have seen so we you know off the bat just kind of clicked and we’ll just send each other pictures and little reminders you know like I hope you’re having a good day um but one day she reached out to me and um I’ll never forget because you both you know it was just very touching and we both started crying and um but she reached out to and she said Diana I just wanted to let you know that before you reached out to me I was ready to just give up, I had no hope of you know being able to find housing nowhere to start know what resources are available um and just being that that person that I can come to to to vent and address my my concerns um and so she was very very grateful and it’s just so rewarding to just get that feedback from the community um but like I said even to this day you know we still check it, check up on each other to see how we’re doing and yeah it’s it’s so rewarding.

Mhm That’s so cool.

And her story really highlights all of the different dimensions of resilience that we’ve been exploring throughout this season.

Ah the importance of connection so that connection between you as a resilience ambassador and um this woman and then also the importance of being connected to resources and it sounds like you and your team a lot of the work that you do is getting people connected to resources to support them in times of challenges in their life.

Oh yeah absolutely, I mean you know a lot of these individuals that that I’ll talk to our sometimes aren’t even aware of the resources that are available um this gal in particular, you know she was even aware of like the senior services that are you know that are provided to our community and so like I said there’s so many people that just don’t know what help is out there and I think educating the community is a big part of our job as well in this season we learned about a term called vicarious resilience and so getting to um experience other people’s stories of resilience and so what is that like for you to be able to witness and walk with people through their own journey?

Oh it’s great, I mean that’s you know while you’re talking to a lot of these individuals you know a lot of their stories, you can also relate you know to a lot of what they’ve gone through and it almost you know normalizes it to a sense, you know, like she was expressing all sorts of you know feelings towards just life in general and you know I can relate to her and be like yeah you know last week I had you know really, really crummy day and you know this is the feelings I had and you know you’re not alone, trust me, it’s you know and so um it’s great at giving those people that sense of like you know empathizing um and reflect on you know certain situations um it’s a great feeling that’s awesome, It sounds like it also um, highlights the importance of seeing the other humans are going through challenging situations and then having that connection piece.

Yes, absolutely.

How do you support your own resilience as an ambassador?

Um well, any time that I find myself where I encounter, you know, certain challenges or just stressful times, there’s a couple of things that I like to, you know, go off of that have worked for me in the past.

Um, and I know everybody kind of has their own ways of, you know, dealing with things, but I, I I find that personal value is a big one.

you have, it’s so important to give yourself credit from, you know, just how far you’ve come, what you’ve accomplished, just be kind to yourself.

Um, I wanted to share a little, a little story, a little, uh, information on, On my personal story.

I, you know, I recently graduated college and I’m close to being, you know, 30 years old and I was always so hard on myself, thinking you know, God you’re almost 30 and you’re just not going to graduate college and you know, I had friends that stuck to their foyer plan than they were done and it took me a little longer.

Um, but I think it’s important to kind of take a step back and just really look at, you know, the entire entire picture.

Um, and and give yourself that credit.

You know, I was able to purchase a home, I was able to pay off my first car.

I was able to, you know, travel and you know, meet so many new people and have that experience, you know?

Um and although I didn’t graduate within the four years, you know, it’s, I kind of gave myself credit for what I have done thus far.

Um so I think that’s a big one is giving you know, your value to yourself to what you’ve done.

Um also I think it’s important to acknowledge your strengths.

You know, many times when we find ourselves down or going through hardship, it’s important to look back and look at your strengths.

Um what has helped you in the past overcome a hardship.

And I think that recognizing those strengths will make you more effective.

It makes you feel more confident, authentic and also invest time and energy on your strengths rather than your weaknesses.

Um I find that it’s, you know, I’m really good about recognizing when I’m feeling a little overwhelmed, upset, fatigued or sad and addressing those needs in order to make, you know, you feel or make you feel both mentally and physically happy.

Um and sometimes I I remember taking a class, my first year of college and it was about wellness and personal personal health and we made a list of strengths that we find in ourselves and it helped me to think of things that um things that you do well and that you love doing um anything that you do and makes you feel more energized things that make you feel like you fulfilled a goal.

Um, and things that you know, evokes notice or praise from others.

Um I also think that it’s important to set short and long term goals.

I think that goal setting, it gives us something to look forward to, keeps us motivated.

And you know, some of these short term goals can be something simple like getting up early or going to bed early, um you know, taking a bath exercise, wake up in the morning and you know, go walk your dog around the block, watch the sunset, watch the sunrise.

Um, so it can be, you know, just little things that kind of keep us motivated throughout the day.

And I also wanted to mention um wellness and self care and that’s something that we practice so much as ambassadors, you know, because we’re serving the community and a lot of the times, you know, you hear stories that um you know, can be pretty, pretty stressful.

Um you know, you have to listen to the struggles that communities are going through and at times you do find yourself, you know, feeling a little down listening to these stories that can be sad or it can make you angry, you know, um, but practicing self care is, it’s just so important to take care of ourselves and I did this um wellness calendar one time with this, um, the scale that I spoke to and it was actually a lot of fun.

So, and you can like, you know, create a, like a week of wellness or you can do your whole month.

But essentially what we did is we went through for that month, um, calendar and for each day we would do like a, you know, a little activity.

So like on day one, you’re gonna do a deep breathing exercise on day two.

You know, you can catch up with the friend, um, just schedule something fun or that you enjoy doing.

Um, like I said, you know, just sent little mini goals, schedule a game night.

I think it’s just important to keep ourselves motivated daily.

Thanks Diana.

It sounds like, um, you really enjoy sharing these practices with the people that you serve as well, um, that really, you truly are walking along with people who are experiencing challenges and um, modeling, taking care of yourself.

Yeah, absolutely.

And sometimes, you know, as public health advocates, we forget to do it for ourselves.

So, you know, it’s important to, to take care of our well being in order to keep giving back to our community.

Absolutely Kendall.

What are you seeing as the biggest needs within the state right now.

Yeah.

So it, it kind of ebbs and flows really depending on the situation that’s going on pretty consistently throughout the program.

We’ve seen a lot of housing needs.

Um and and like Diana said, she, that was, you know, the experience that she and the woman that she has worked with really touched on, it’s something that we just, it’s really hitting people really hard is is the housing.

And you know, I think part of that stemmed from the fact that we had essentially our whole state shut down and people weren’t working and filing for unemployment was difficult in a long process.

And you know, we we had that that coverage from a little while with the rental assistance, but obviously funding only lasts for so long and you know, it’s been a really difficult.

That’s been a really difficult one is the housing assistance and the one that we really see pretty commonly.

Um, a couple of weeks back with the Cold War fire when that was going on.

We had a really big outreach.

Um and Diana was actually part of a group that we did down in Carson city where people who were evacuating their homes and evacuating their town of South Lake or, or Kings Beach or wherever they were and coming over the hill and not knowing you know what to do where to go, You know, they have pets.

They they had to leave everything behind, which is a very traumatic experience and not know if if they’re going to be able to go back to that.

Um, you know, we, we dealt with that we dealt with that last fire season as well.

Um specifically within Mono county and and worked with them and then we also do see stuff with our youth.

Unfortunately we do see an increase in um, in suicides within our youth which is just obviously absolutely heartbreaking.

Um, and we don’t really, you know, because of covid and because of schools being closed for a while and and people who are in homes where it’s maybe not a comfortable place or they don’t have that support system with their friends or their teachers.

You know, that was something that we really were seeing and we still see a little bit of and we’ve done campaigns to address that um that I think have been really successful but we still, we still see that too.

And so I think what I’ve taken away from that is there are so many people who are having these experiences and and having these concerns and these frustrations and these issues that a lot of other people are having.

And so I think that really is for our program.

What made us realize we need to continue.

And so we, when our grant with FEMA and SAMHSA ended, we, we were able to secure additional funding because we realized and luckily our state leadership realized like this is needed and there are still people who need help and need access to resources because like I know for me when I go online and you google like mental health care in your community, you’re going to get such a huge list of things and they may work for you, they may not work for you and that can be overwhelming.

And so I think having people like Diana and or other ambassadors who know the resources in the community because they work in the community that they live in, they can say okay yeah if you need housing assistance I know who you need to talk to and I will walk you through it and you know if you need help filing for unemployment I can walk you through that and I think that’s just been really successful.

That’s so awesome that Um one that the state leadership really has supported this effort post we’re not post covid but as we continue to move through Covid um and that really normalizing that things continue to happen right?

Natural disasters people continue to um struggle with mental health with anxiety and depression and that um there is a real need here within our state to be able to connect people with resources and to not feel so isolated and to feel like there is someone there who cares and that sounds like that’s what the resilience ambassadors are there for it very much is and we have with our program we we have our three key pillars which are promotion prevention and early intervention and that’s really what we focus on and what we try to help people with and and personally and I know Diana and I have talked about this and I’ve talked about this with other people in our program.

It’s there’s this mentality that reaching out for mental health services, there’s a stigma behind that which is absolutely heartbreaking because clearly the numbers show that there is a need and people people are feeling these feelings and so I always tell people and because you know we’ve all dealt with it, I’ve dealt with stuff as we go through Covid, I’m sure everybody listening has and it’s like it’s okay to not be okay and it’s okay to ask for help because there are these resources and we have people like Diana who are here and who can help you um and we want to share that this is the best we can because we can only get better by reaching out and by talking with each other.

What are some of the prevention strategies um that the Nevada Resilience Projects uses since that’s one of the pillars, Diana, do you wanna touch on that a little bit sure.

Um when it comes to prevention um you know in the situation that I’m at the gal that I talked about earlier um in her case we were able to prevent her from becoming homeless because it was getting down to the point where she had nowhere to go, she had no one to turn to um and so we were able to prevent her from becoming homeless.

Um you know, and I in addition being able to connect her um with the, you know, the senior services that were available um or the, you know, disability resources that were available, it prevented her from her health worsening.

Um So and as a public health major, you know, we all know that prevention measures are more cost effective, you know, to our state and not just cost effective, but also, you know, it’s for their well being, it’s just it’s so important.

Um So like I said, there’s different cases that I’ve that I’ve encountered, um but the housing right now in our community, it’s it’s like it’s a crisis, you know, these people can’t afford these crazy rent prices and on top of that they can’t find housing.

Um So I think preventing individuals from homelessness is a big one right now within within our community.

Yeah, and I’m struck by the need for multiple organizations to come together because it’s really a a huge issue in our community, it’s in and it’s a systems issue.

And so what needs to happen and as a resilience ambassador, um you know, supporting these people who you’re seeing having challenges on a daily basis.

Um but then you’re working in a system that doesn’t always allow you to fix those challenges, How do you, like what do you do in those situations where you actually can’t support in some way, oh um you know, a lot of the, the, I think a lot of the services, I think they’re just overwhelmed.

You know, sometimes they’re overwhelmed and you know, they have application after application after application.

Um, but that’s where, you know, as an ambassador, you try to find other nonprofits that may be able to help.

Um, and unfortunately, you know, a lot of these nonprofits may not have the same amount of funds as funding as, you know, federal, um, programs.

But I think it comes down to just coming up with a new plan.

You know, well, you know, we’ll find other nonprofits that may be able to help you with, you know, your food needs or, you know, it takes a community like you mentioned.

So you start reaching out to different, you know, organizations, nonprofits within the community.

And um, you know, if one can’t help, then you move on to the, to the next or you know, they all come together to kind of just help this individual because there’s so many passionate people out there in our community that I’ve worked with and they’re willing to go above and beyond, you know, to help these people in need.

Well, it sounds like there’s also a lot of problem solving that has to happen.

Oh yes, Absolutely.

We have to get creative sometimes definitely.

But we, we have partnered with some great providers and we have just generally like Diana was saying there are great nonprofits and there are great resources and sometimes it’s just finding the right fit for the individual.

I love that.

And it really highlights um that I mean that is what resilience is.

There’s a lot of creativity involved, there’s a lot of problem solving and it’s that connection, we need that connection with others and our community.

How can our listeners learn more about the Nevada Resilience Project?

Sure.

So we have a website, nevadaresilienceproject.com.

Um it’s the name of the program and we have a ton of information on there.

So not only do we talk about the background of our program and where it stemmed from.

Um we have links to motivational um blog posts.

We have kind of a breakdown of what is resilience we offer what we call a resilience toolkit, where it is resources and activities to help you build your resilience personally and within your family.

And we actually break that down by demographics.

So there’s a segment on emotional health, there’s a segment on physical health.

We have teens and young adults.

We have parent resources um first responders and then we also include mindfulness practices and activities.

Um We do also include links to all of the other behavioral health resources across the state.

Um and that is also broken up by demographics.

So we’ve got mobile crisis crisis support services, peer support lines are veterans, the certified community behavioral health centers in your area, we packaged a lot of information into our website and then on every single page that you go to.

You’ll also see a button where you can connect with one of our ambassadors and it’s a form that you fill out.

You do not have to share personal information if you don’t want to, you can just include your first name and a zip code um and what you’re reaching out for and we do ask for the zip code just so we can connect you with an ambassador in your community.

So somebody in Washoe County you can say, hey, I’m looking for employment assistance and they’re going to get somebody like Diana in Washoe County as opposed to one of our ambassadors in Clark because we want our people to focus on the community that they operate within and that’s monitored by myself actually and another supervisor all day all the time.

And we share that information with our staff and then also our staff works with our providers directly.

So boys and Girls Club will connect us with youth health and human services health districts.

So we we are out there.

But easiest is nevadaresilienceproject.com.

That’s wonderful.

We’ll make sure that gets into the show notes so that people can utilize this wonderful resource that you all have created for the state of Nevada.

So thank you both for your time and really just thank you so much for all the work that you do supporting Nevadans.

Thank you for having us.

We really appreciate it.

Thank you for listening to CASAT Conversations.

Your resource for exploring behavioral health topics.

We hope you found today’s conversation timely and meaningful.

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If you want to learn more, visit us at our blog at CASATondemand.org

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This podcast has been brought to you by the CASAT Podcast Network located within the Center for the Application of Substance Abuse Technologies at the University of Nevada, Reno.

For more podcasts information and resources visit CASAT.org.

This episode features the song “My Tribe” by Ketsa, available under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial license.

Disclaimer: This podcast is for educational purposes only. Any advice offered on the podcast is an educational context and is not intended as direct medical advice, nor as a replacement for it. If you are experiencing a medical or life emergency, please call 911. If you are experiencing a crisis, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273 – 8255.  If you are experiencing stress, and would like professional help please contact your insurance company to identify a therapist in your area or contact the organization you work for and ask about an employee assistance program.

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