Set Up:

SheBoss, brought to you by Flourish, spends time with Rachel Sullivan, overall rockstar and owner of Solid Ground Counseling in Madison, Alabama. We chat about her journey as an entrepreneur, her experience as a U.S. Army Veteran and how she’s changing the world – one person at a time – by emphasizing the importance behind mental health education and awareness.

She Boss with Rachel Sullivan

Megan: So, we are so excited for you guys to join us today. This is She Boss and I am Megan, I’m going to be chatting with a very special guest today. And I’ll introduce her in just a moment. But for those that don’t know She Boss is a video series that we will be doing every single week, releasing every Wednesday at 3:30 Central. And if you’d like to join us, it’s done over a glass of wine, typical Flourish style. But the goal of this is to really bring to light all of these phenomenal women that we’ve had such a blessing and an opportunity to come in contact with over the past couple of months. And being a mom, it’s hard. But being an entrepreneur is really hard. And when you combine those two things, it can be a total disaster, or can be utter bliss. And so we’re here just to talk about the good, the bad, and the ugly, and just try to highlight on some amazing women that are in our community. And we want you to get to know them a little bit more. So I am so excited to introduce my dear friend, Rachel Sullivan, she is a total rock star. She happens to be my neighbor, which is awesome. She has a beautiful family and amazing background. And I’ve explained this to a couple people before but she is amazing, and one of the most passionate women that I think I’ve ever met. And you’ll get a flavor of that, for sure in a minute. So anyway, so Rachel Sullivan is with Solid Ground Counseling. And I’ll go ahead and just kind of turn it over. And Rachel, if you can give us a little bit of background on yourself what you’re doing right now. And then we’ll talk a little bit more about your journey as an entrepreneur. 

As seen on a Sussex Directories Inc site

Rachel: Yeah, awesome. Thank you, first of all, for having me, Megan, super excited about this series. And just all that you do to build up and shine light on this awesome entrepreneur community in the Huntsville area. But especially the women business owners, I think that’s just a really cool thing that you’re doing. So I appreciate the opportunity to be here and just kind of share. So like Megan said, I am Rachel Sullivan. And I own Solid Ground Counseling Center. I founded Solid Ground in November of 2018. And I have my master’s in marriage and family therapy. So here at Solid Ground, the primary mission is providing counseling services to individuals and couples and families and really just helping them to get their feet back underneath of them. Life throws all kinds really difficult circumstances at us. And I love how therapy helps us to just rebuild that belief in ourselves and our ability to keep going. And I’m a firm believer in we all have the resources in us already to solve our problems. But sometimes we don’t have the right tools to access those resources. And for me, therapy really brings that out. And that was really a huge portion of why I felt like Solid Ground needed to be a thing.

Megan: That’s awesome. So give us a little bit of background. Rachel is a veteran with the US Army. And her husband is also in the army. And so tell us a little bit about your background, how you got started, I mean, obviously, Solid Ground is such an amazing thing and such a needed resource within the community. But tell us a little about your background. And what brought you to this point and why you started Solid Ground?

Rachel: Yes, so short version of the story. I grew up the second oldest of six, on a farm in the middle of nowhere in Illinois. And being able to go to college was something that I really always wanted to do. But with as big as our family was there was just zero way that my parents were going to be able to pay for six of us to go through school. So pretty early on, I knew that it was going to really be up to me to figure out what that was like to get college paid for. And where we live, there were all kinds of military recruiters and so from about probably 14, I had wrapped my mind around the fact that that was what I was going to do was join the military to get my college paid for. So that’s exactly what I did. Right out of high school. I joined the military and left just shortly after I turned 18. And I joined the signal field or the communications field, which I can see now was super funny and kind of the start of all of what I do now. Although for a long time I didn’t see the connection. So I spent about six years on active duty, just shy of eight years in military altogether. And in that time frame I just really had the opportunity to see just how cool humanity was. And don’t get me wrong, I’ve been to the foreign countries and I’ve seen and been a part of that Battlefield and missions and not everything about humanity is beautiful on the surface, but I have a deep rooted respect for people. And I firmly believe in all of our- we really just all have this right to be loved and to have somebody cheering us on. And I saw how important that was while I was in the military, because that that community that you’re in, it’s interesting how isolating that is from the rest of the world. And at the same time this brotherhood exists. There’s a sisterhood within the military as well, for sure. But, you know, this brotherhood that exists within the ranks of military branches. And I think I started seeing then how important that community and really just that support network are. And it’s definitely something that I draw on even now in my business, those times and experiences, camaraderie from my military background?

Megan: Yeah. So you got out and what did you do after you left the military? And I mean, because it was a couple of years there, before you started Solid Ground so what sort of brought you where you are today?

Rachel: So I started school in October of 2006. I’ve been in school for a really long time. Because the military was paying for my college, I took classes a little bit at a time to make sure that my tuition assistance was going to cover everything. So from 2006 to 2010, I took classes pretty slow, and was still in the military at that time, I got out right at the end of 2010. And I just did school for the next few years, raised a family stayed at home, I had the awesome opportunity to stay at home with our four kids, and just be able to pour into their lives. And be that mom that’s putting them on the bus in the morning and hanging out with the little kids during the day and just plugging away at school. So I finished my undergraduate work, I took a little bit of a break while my husband was in Afghanistan for about a year and a half. And then I started my master’s degree in 2013 and continued to just take classes at the pace that the military would pay for them. And so at that point, I was using my GI Bill and just took those classes and continue doing that work, started my internship, and then finally graduated in April of 2018. So over that summer, that was really when life unfolded and Solid Ground started becoming really a tangible thing. It had been a dream at that point for about a year and a half. And being able to work on that becoming a reality that summer was really cool.

Megan: Yeah, that’s amazing. So starting a business is not an easy thing. And the sheer thought of being able to go out on your own and start your own thing and build your own client base and find a building to put your office in and all of that kind of stuff, that’s something that I think freaks a lot of people out thinking they have to have a ton of money in the bank, or you have to go out and take a big loan out or don’t have their business plan figured out. So what are some of the things that you learned with that journey that, I don’t know, maybe you could share with some other people who might be thinking about starting their own business, and might be sort of dipping their toe in the water a little bit, but just don’t really know where to start or how to start?

Rachel: Yeah, so first of all, go for it, just go for it. If there is a dream in your heart, and you have this business idea, go for it. I think that those dreams get put there for a reason. And so whatever it is that you feel like you’re supposed to be adding to the business world, with the stream that you have, it’s going to be valuable, so go for it. And along the way, there’s definitely going to be those challenges. 

There were so many questions along the way that I didn’t know I needed to ask, because I didn’t know that they needed to be asked and until you come across those topics or obstacles. There’s no way to know any of that. But there are so many resources out there. There are all kinds of business pages within the city resources, wherever you’re going to begin your business that even if you’re not going to be in a brick and mortar location, even just starting something kind of at home or online, whatever that looks like there are so many resources, and it can be daunting at first. But the reality is those resources are going to answer those questions that you need to get you plugged into the people who are really going to be able to pour into that dream and make sure that it gets off the ground. So being able to just take that leap of faith and go, there are going to be some hard days, there’s going to be some questions that kind of blindside you. And you got to scramble to find the answers for them superfast so that you can keep this train rolling. But the answers are out there. 

Megan: With the internet, right?

Rachel: Absolutely and everybody knows somebody, right. And so being able to just wrap your mind around the fact that there are going to be some trials, there’s going to be some obstacles, there’s going to be some challenges, there’s going to be some things that come up kind of last minute that you got to scramble to figure it out. And as long as you’re up for that challenge, it’s so very doable. 

Megan: Well, and I think something that you brought up that I think is so important that maybe a lot of people either overlook or think it’s not as important as you get a little bit older, I mean, I’m about to be 40, you’re younger than I am, I’m sure how old are you? 

Rachel: Well, you’re only a couple years, only 34.

Megan: So but I think that anyone this not to sound cliché, in any way, but we would be very foolish to think that the older we get, the less we need to learn and continue to learn. And I think, finding someone who can serve as a mentor to you, going out on LinkedIn, I mean, that’s a beautiful thing of having a social platform like that. And following people that you admire, and simply reaching out and saying, “Hey, I’m in a situation, where I’m entertaining this idea, would it be alright, if I had a 30 minute conversation with you just to pick your brain a bit”. And I think that, one of the things where, and you probably know this more so than most just because of the line of work that you’re in, but that feeling of fear around something is typically driven by a lack of knowledge, right? Like, you can fearful around something, because you don’t have a lot of knowledge behind it. And so therefore, you’re trouble or you have a lack of confidence in it, right? So it’s like, if you just face it head on and you dive right in, and you start to ask these questions. And by all means, do not be ashamed, or embarrassed to ask those questions. And we talked about this last time, with the key about being vulnerable, and really putting yourself out there and saying, “You know, what, I don’t know how to do this”. And that’s okay. It’s okay, that you don’t know how to do everything. A lot of people who are extremely successful started off doing the same exact thing. Nobody knows everything right off the bat. And recognizing that and leaning on people and creating a tribe around you, of men and women who can help answer some of those questions, just reinforces that confidence, and over time will eliminate that fear. And before you know it, you’re out there doing your thing.

Rachel: Absolutely, it’s so important those people along the way. And so in my profession we are required to have a clinical supervisor. So this is a marriage and family therapist or another therapist who’s been in the field, long enough to be approved by our licensing board as somebody who is designated as a mentor. And so they actually look over your clinical work for several years when you get started. So like a minimum of three years, you’ll be underneath the wing of this clinical supervisor and my clinical supervisor’s amazing. So even before I graduated, I just knew what I wanted to be able to do with the therapy and with pouring into families in my community, especially. And I knew that in looking at what exists here in Huntsville, nothing quite fit the bill for what I really wanted to be able to do. And so I really knew at that point, well, I’m going to have to build it right. If it doesn’t fit, it doesn’t exist, then I’m going to have to build it. So he was really gracious, he owns his own practice, some private therapy practice, and he was really, really gracious with his time to just answer those questions and helped me to figure out what that was going to look like. And I mean everything from taxes to appropriate amounts to pay for an office space and the different software’s that I would need. And I mean, just all of the things I wouldn’t have known if I didn’t ask questions, right. 

And so being able to pick that brain of somebody who is experienced in the field and the reality is 30 years ago, he started in the same place. And so knowing that there’s this experience there of this journey, and this knowledge acquired over time, was really valuable to me. And I think regardless of what field you’re going into, or what business you’re starting, that person is out there and taking that fear and just being like, there’s no room for you here, there’s no room for you in my dream, right fears got no room in your dream and pushing that out and allowing yourself to reach out to that person who’s going to help you make this dream a reality is super important.

Megan: I totally agree. Totally agree. And obviously, we are here in the wonderful Rocket City, Huntsville, Alabama. And there are so many resources here to help entrepreneurs get off the ground, the Small Business Administration, Small Business Development Council, The Catalyst, I mean, you name it, The Chamber of Commerce here is phenomenal. There’s just so and most the resources are free, they’re hands down, they are free. And I want to jump into another topic but real quick, I want to say to that point, though, I think what is so important, and it sounds silly, but whatever. But I think what is really important is in addition to finding a mentor, and whether this person be your partner, or your spouse, or your best friend, and they don’t have to be locally here, but finding an accountability partner, and someone who can help hold you accountable to the things that you say you’re going to do because, sometimes it’s really hard to do that on your own. It’s like, “Yeah, I’m gonna start tomorrow, not today but tomorrow”. Number one, start today, right but number two, finding someone who will physically hold you accountable for achieving items one through four that you said, you were going to do in the last 30 days. It sounds kind of cheesy on the surface, but I can tell you, as someone who has an accountability partner, it’s changed my life, and it’s changed her life. And we were not friends prior to this relationship. And it’s honestly been life changing. And so I think if you can find someone that’s like that, and that you have an agreement with that, you want them to hold you accountable to things; I think that is extremely powerful. And one thing Rachel, I wanted to talk about. So this is a good segue, because you talked about how one of the things that you wanted to do with Solid Ground, a lot of the resources maybe around what you wanted to focus in on didn’t currently exist in North Alabama, and maybe didn’t exist here in Huntsville. 

So one of the things that Rachel is extremely passionate about, as we know, based on what she does is mental health and mental health awareness and education. And from someone who has a 14 year old daughter, my daughter has been through some serious ups and downs, in her past and in essence has post-traumatic stress disorder. And being a being a parent of a teenager is extremely hard. Being a parent of a female teenager is even harder, because hormones are all over the place. But it when life gets in the way, and when business gets in the way, and when family gets in the way, sometimes it’s easier just to disregard feelings and emotions that are there, but you just can’t see it. And suicide is a thing. And it is huge. And it’s something that absolutely needs to have a brighter light shone on, because I think it’s one where you just get caught up in the moment and then all of a sudden, something devastating happens. And it’s like, “oh my god, well, I didn’t know what signs to look for”. Looking back, hindsight it’s 2020 and perhaps there were signs there, but you were just too busy to see it. And I don’t want to go down this rabbit hole. 

But watching that Netflix series a couple years ago, 13 reasons about cyber and social bullying of a young girl who, for me, it was an absolute emotional thing to even watch because not only did the girl look like Madison, my daughter, but she really did Hannah, she really did kind of look like her a little bit. But it was just so real. And it was so raw. And it was just such a powerful story. And that is happening every single day. So I know that you have such a passion around providing more education, awareness around mental health. So I want you to talk a little bit about that. And maybe some ways that we can rally the community or whatever, to try to figure out ways to get that amplified, because that is a resource that is absolutely lacking with not only within our community, but within our school systems. And I’d love to hear your thoughts around that.

Rachel: Yes, so I did not originally start my counseling center with this focus on suicide awareness and training within the community. But it didn’t take me very long to realize that really kind of, in my opinion, what an end up happening is as we’re going through life, tough stuff happens. And we have really as a society become a little more isolated regarding what we share with other people. Most individuals have a pretty small circle, if not maybe one individual that they share the majority of their life with. And so that isolation is really not the way to go. We were designed to be in community with people. And so as what we’ve seen over time is people go through these, you know, tough circumstances, whether that’s some sort of bullying or just trauma in life. Yeah. And those traumas rewire our brain. And what ends up happening in that place is the more that it gets rewired, maladaptive, the more things in life trigger us and then the more things in life that are triggering us, the harder it is for us to pull ourselves up by the bootstraps. And at this point, we’ve kind of isolated even more because the triggers are overwhelming. And even if we don’t even have outright triggers, just life building on overwhelming and building on overwhelming tends to just kind of scream to us that we’re completely alone. And nobody else feels this way. And nobody else is ever going to understand. So you need to keep your mouth shut. Because somebody is going to think that you’re crazy. We throw that word around. And it’s a little bit frustrating. 

Megan: But why do we care so much about that? Like, what is this social media thing? What is it that causes that that fear of judgment? I mean, there’s got to be a point to where it’s just like, you don’t care. And I know, that’s way easier said than done. And I’m certainly guilty of caring what other people think about me here, and then it’s just like, what do you think the driver is behind that?

Rachel: Oh, I think that research shows, there’s just so much more comparison now than there used to be, where we are, especially here in the United States, we live physically closer to people now than we ever have, at any point in the past, houses are built. And you can basically see from one kitchen window, through the next and see what your neighbor is cooking for dinner. And we’re packed into offices and social media is so prevalent. I mean, you can get on with two clicks of your finger and see what everybody who you’re friends with on Facebook or Instagram or wherever, you know how perfect their life is. And so it becomes this kind of rat race to be the most perfect across all of those areas, right? And so we end up playing this comparison game, and well their spouses, bringing them flowers more often than mine is and then we begin to feel really dissatisfied with where our life is at rather than being like, that’s their life, right? Everybody’s got that there’s the whole, like, the grass is greener on the other side. And I don’t believe that I think the grass is greener, where you really take care of it, and you fertilize it right. 

Megan: People create a persona on social media that they want others to believe is true. And I’ve run into people like this where you see one side of them, that you think is the side of them on social media, only to meet them face to face, and they’re completely different people. Right now, it takes way more effort to create this fake person of who you want people to believe that you are, which is kind of scary to think and I mean, I’m sorry, but Instagram has that all the time with a ton of filters and all these things. It’s like; nobody looks like that when they wake up at 7am. Like, realistic for a second like come on.

Rachel: Yeah, what’s your skin actually look like? 

Megan: I’ve got like blemishes all over the place.  Oh, hold on a second. Oh, I think you’re muted. Rachel, I think you muted yourself. There you go. Oh, it’s all good.

Rachel: So you know, we go through this rat race of comparison. And then stuff happens in life. And of course, the majority of social media isn’t airing out the hard stuff that we’ve gone through, right? Because there’s some judgment, right, like, well, we don’t want your garbage on Facebook, but where’s the safe place to process it? And the answer is, there’s really kind of not, so what ends up happening is people just kind of stuff all these things. And then it becomes overwhelming. We weren’t built to carry all of that by ourselves. We weren’t built to not be able to share what we’re feeling with the people that we love. But it’s really gotten to this point where our society’s like, ‘it’s not okay for you to not be okay. And if you’re not, okay, I don’t want to hear about it’. And very few people that you will interact with are going to be that sounding board and tell you whatever you’re feeling right now is safe, right? Like this is a safe place for you to feel everything that you’re feeling. And I’m going to help you carry that. And so 

What I found is once people have kind of gone through those traumas, and that looks so different for everybody, and they go through these traumas, and they go through these hard seasons in life, and they just get to this point where the hope is gone. And when the hope is gone, and there’s really no perceived way out of the situation, that is where the suicidal thoughts begin to enter the picture. And not everybody who has suicidal thoughts is actively suicidal, they just are wavering in that place of I don’t know how to make the pain stop. I don’t know how to stop living in this cycle of everything, feeling super overwhelming. And so that seems to be a more and more viable way out of what they can’t find another way out of right. And what we know, through research is there are ways out of that, but we have not as a society have done a great job educating ourselves on what’s going on in the minds and lives of those people who are struggling. So we’ve as our own judgments, and we assume that they’re crazy, and we assume that they’re weak, and we assume that they just don’t know how to cope with life. And none of that is true. But the more that we project, that message out there, the more isolated people who are struggling and that feeling until you get to that point where that last crisis hits, and it’s really the straw that breaks the camel’s back. And it takes about 90 seconds of crisis for somebody to make that split second decision to end their life. And so if they’ve got those needs available, and that last crisis hits, the brain switch, switches over from thinking about anything rationally or using logic and it goes straight into remembering all the emotional trauma. And somebody can make a very permanent decision based on certain stances and situations that are temporary, but they don’t feel temporary. So the more that I learned about that exact process of hard things in life happening, and it building up to overwhelming and it becoming now trauma, and it becoming, you know, unsafe to process it and that eventually leading to suicide, it really drove me to figure out what can we do as not only mental health practitioners, but as communities, what can we do to educate ourselves to be able to better understand what’s going on? These are our loved ones, neighbors, these are our family members.

Megan: Yeah, that was what I was going to ask you. So what signs do we look for? Obviously, you and I are mothers, we have young kids, even if you don’t have kids, and you have a neighbor, or you have a sister or a brother in law, like what are and I know, this is not this simple. Obviously, there are a lot of variables at play. But if we were to look for three or four signs that you think may be a red flag, what would those be and recommend that we handle that?

Rachel: Yeah, so and just side note, before I answer that question I am certified to teach is called QPR Question, Persuade, Refer. And it is suicide awareness, gatekeeper training, and it is available to everybody. And it is something that we can teach online right now. So if that is something that you are interested in, for your organization, or even for your family, I partner with a foundation that is local to the North Alabama area. And they cover all the costs for that training, because they believe so strongly in getting that training out to everybody. And so that is something that I’m super passionate about. And through that training, you will learn some of these things.


Megan: Question, what was the-

Rachel: Question Persuade and Refer, QPR

Megan: Perfect. Okay, we’ll include a link on that info. With more info that way people can kind of reach out to you on that. 

Rachel: Absolutely and that is something that we’re able to do online right now, since we’re practicing social distancing, and not able to gather in those larger groups. So if that’s something that you’re interested in doing sooner rather than later, absolutely possible at this time. One of the main factors for suicide is a previous suicide attempt, or somebody who has had somebody close to them commit suicide, those are some of the highest risk factors, and demographically it shifts a little bit what’s included in that. But a warning sign for kids especially is kind of an abrupt change in behavior. If you typically have this kid who’s very outgoing and social and interacts with the family and eats regular meals, and any or a combination of those things change and you’re just noticing a difference in demeanor or their ability to be engaged in the things that they really love, giving away things that they really adore. It would be so weird for a kid to just be like, “I really don’t think any my iPhone anymore. I’m going to give it to my little sibling right now”. Like, that’s weird, right. 

Megan: That’s an interesting trait that I didn’t think about before was giving personal valuables away, almost thinking as though well, there’s no need for you to have them anymore if you don’t desire to be around.

Rachel: And yeah, it’s very similar to adults getting their affairs in order, right. But if you think about kids, there are not really affairs to get in order, if you will, it’s not like they need to find somebody to take care of their cat or water their plants or quit their job or things like that. So on kids, it’ll look a little bit different. But in adults, all those things I just mentioned, finding somebody to take care of animals or taking them to the shelter, things like that. Even, quitting a job or a reduction in normal communication, that isn’t explained by something that’s happening. If somebody is on a work trip, you might not hear from them or more in that timeframe, because they’re away. But if they’re home, and they’re going to work as normal, and you normally hear from this person four or five times out of the week, and you’ve noticed that that has subsided, and that when you do reach out, everything is just kind of flat. And a couple of those other warning signs are in place. All of those are really important. So the QPR training in particular teaches what those warning signs are. And then how you actually talk to somebody who is who you feel like might be experiencing some suicidal thoughts or be headed towards a suicidal crisis. And so I love that training, because it’s everybody’s eligible to take it. We can teach to the youth, we can teach it to adults, we can teach it at that first responder level, it’s an amazing training that really just helps people to get comfortable with. If I’m recognizing the signs in somebody, how do I ask them about it? The training that starts-

Megan: I think that’s people struggle with it’s like, well, if you say something, you don’t want to offend anybody. And which again, goes back to that whole judgment thing. You’re worried about what people you know-so that’s the challenge.

Rachel: Especially that’s really the number one myth that we bust in the training that I feel like, it’s important for everybody to know, even if you don’t go through the training is if you feel like somebody that you know is struggling, it is absolutely not true that if you ask them, if they’re thinking about suicide, you’re going to plant the idea in their mind, that is a myth. It’s not fact, what we know is that if somebody is struggling with feeling really isolated, or feeling like they’re just ready to end their life, if we ask them about that, it actually reduces the anxiety of the situation, because somebody sees them. And somebody is asking them about that, and somebody is coming alongside of them to kind of carry that with them. Because remember, if you’re in that place where everything is super overwhelming, and nobody sees you, and your brain is telling you, your emotions are telling you you’re super alone, somebody seeing you, and that is enormous. And so being able to really wrap your mind around, you’re not going to drive somebody to that, right. You asking them if they are suicidal is not going to make them suicidal.

Megan: I think that is a really, really good point is not to be afraid to approach someone that you feel might be in that position. And I can’t imagine and definitely had some low points it’s just life, right? We have our ups and downs. And you do think as though there are certain situations where you’re completely on your own, and nobody understands. And you’re the only one who is in this scenario. And I think that sense of solitude, is what really kind of drives a lot of these thoughts and anxiety and all these different things and to have someone recognize, to that extent, and express that care for you, I think could just be I mean, could be enormous. So I’m glad that you brought that up. It’s really great point.

Rachel: It’s huge.

Megan: So, there are a lot of different things that change within our kids and things like that, from your standpoint. I would imagine and life experiences obviously are very different for everybody, but it’s important for adults to be aware and see the signs and it’s important for kids to be aware and see the signs and it’s important for educators and first responders and school counselors and things like that. From your standpoint right now, where we are within our community, what is the biggest area of opportunity that you think that we can improve and move the needle as it relates to education? And what can we do as a community to make a difference?

Rachel: Yeah. Ah, okay. So that’s a multi layered question. But let me try and break it down. So I think that as parents, we really have to accept the fact that regardless of the age of our children, their emotions are valid. I talked to a lot of parents who just, they will literally bring their kids to me and say, “I just need you to verify and tell me if what they’re feeling is actually valid or…” 

Megan: Oh, hold on, unmute yourself. I don’t know what happened. The volume went down pretty low for some reason, I don’t know why. There we go, you’re good.

Rachel: I don’t mind doing that. I’m literally not touching it. So just really taking that step and going, everything my kid is feeling, whether they’re three, or fourteen or twenty one. All of that is valid, right? And dismissing those emotions, as not valid is really hurtful. And so as parents, one of those major things that we can do is just taking all of what they’re feeling very seriously. And we don’t have to know how to handle all the emotions that they’re feeling. But we do have to give space for them to feel all the things that they’re feeling, right. And I think when we can do that we create a safe space as parents, that our kids are able to really feel that wide range of things. Because when we stifle that, and we tell them what they’re feeling isn’t true, then how are they supposed to trust what they’re feeling, they’re already feeling it. And then we’re telling them that they’re not right, or it’s not real, or it’s not true. Except for it is, and so now they’re super confused. So then if they kind of go to school, and now somebody at school doesn’t really understand that they’re just kind of one in this, you know, mass of students, it becomes really isolating. 

So being able to add a family household level, just allow everybody to feel what they’re feeling and for those things to be accepted. And there’s absolutely a way to do that, where we’re not allowing our kids to disrespect us with feeling our kids can feel angry and not disrespect us. And sometimes that’s a fine line. And the teenage age gets a lot harder, right, because they’re trying to find who they are as an individual and a longer time that steps on our toes and want to kind of mold them into these certain people. But we’ve got to make space for that, too. Everybody who’s got a teenager right now went through the whole shebang of being a teenager. And so just like we needed our parents to give us this space to just be us, we got to give our kids the same space, alright, even though it’s so much harder to do as a parent. And then really, at that school level, taking that time to get the training in hand, right now, there is a training that educators are required to go through. But my understanding it’s like an online training. It’s a series of slides. And it’s just not super interactive. And most of the people that I have spoken to that go through that training, don’t actually feel equipped to talk to students who might be struggling, once they’ve completed that training. And that’s definitely a problem. So being able to really get some more training opportunities in the schools that are going to help the kids to figure out what they can say if they are the ones struggling and help the parents and teachers to know what they can say if they notice that somebody is struggling. 

And I love the Arab City Schools, they train everybody, the custodial staff, the support staff, the teachers, the administrators, everybody’s trained. And it makes an enormous difference in that many more eyes are looking out for all of these kids. And I think with some of these bigger school districts, there’s definitely room for growth in the training models that we have, because we do have so many students and a student teacher ratio is so different. And so really being able to bring some good programs and that are going to help teachers to feel super equipped, not to put something else on their plate, but to give them a better resource to really recognize somebody that might be struggling. And then I think as a community, we need to make space for that too. And stop being afraid, that fear factor again. I don’t know the whole explanation for it. But often I run into this hesitation for organizations or businesses to open their doors to getting that kind of training. And they’re almost like, well, if we just pretend like it’s not happening and we never have the conversation in the first place, then we can be ignorant to it. And the unfortunate thing with that is, that doesn’t change the statistics. Ignorance doesn’t drop the number of people who suicide every year and so being bold enough to have those conversations, even though they’re hard, even though they’re awkward, even though they’re difficult ones, to have on an ongoing basis is a huge factor for me and in really reducing the statistics. 

Megan: Yeah. So I think a big takeaway and there are a lot of different messages here, but I think a big takeaway is to be proactive, right? So, I mean, we got to be proactive and not be afraid. I mean, from one mom to another, you know this. I mean, you would have wished that you would have been more proactive, should God forbid, something happened to a child of yours or your daughter’s friend, or your son’s friend or something. I hate this because, and this is not for me personally, but you hear so many times where some of these kids have mental, mental breakdowns And they do devastating things where they either hurt themselves or hurt their parents or hurt their fellow classmates and we don’t want them here. It’s like a theme where it’s like, well, you know, there were problems. There were some signs but nobody really stepped in and really did what they should have done or you know, and it’s like nobody pushed hard enough to really figure out what the problem was. And it’s not that you have to be super aggressive, but somebody needs to extend an arm and care and really invest in that child. 

Don’t do something just for the sake of checking a box, but do it for the sake of caring about somebody for their well-being and absolutely. Yeah, it’s I mean and I get it. I mean it’s it is a hard thing and it’s something that is a very sensitive topic and not everybody is very comfortable talking about. But like we talked about earlier, the more that we talked about it and the more that we learn about it and the more that we educate ourselves and our in our kids about it, the easier it’s going to be to talk about. 

Rachel: And the more normal it is right. If everybody’s having a conversation about mental health, then it’s not something that’s taboo where, I mean, everybody’s fine, talking about the latest fashion and everybody’s fine with talking about eating at fast food restaurants, and all of that. And I firmly believe that mental health can be just as normal as those conversations, we’ve just made it not that way. 

Megan: We have to change that will make mental health discussions the new norm. Oh my gosh. Well, right Rachel, thank you so much for chatting with us today. So Solid Ground Counseling is based here in North Alabama. I know that you also do some telemedicine and telehealth as well. Right now, we are quarantined under covid-19. Is that something that you’re going to continue to do with some of your patients or? 

Rachel: Yeah, absolutely. So I actually got certified to provide telehealth last year. So as long as you live in the state of Alabama, then you are eligible to be a Solid Ground client through telehealth even if you are not local to the North Alabama area. And so that is something that has already been in place for about a year now and definitely will continue even through the pandemic. So that’s a resource that I love to be able to offer because I genuinely think that everybody needs access to really good mental health care and somebody who’s rooting for them. So even if you’re not here in the North Alabama area, does not keep you from being a client. 

Megan: Yeah, and I think once we get over this pandemic with covid-19 in our lives, slowly start to get back to normal, that’s not going to be the case for a lot of people and their lives are going to be absolutely disrupted. And so many ways which is going to have impacts across the board, financially, emotionally and physically. So this is a time to be proactive with your family because there’s a lot of change that has happened that we’re just not used to. And so if you take one thing away from this, with besides the fact that, you know, Rachel’s a total rock star. It’s to be proactive with those around you and don’t be afraid to talk about mental health and talk about any concerns that you might have. It’s extending that arm can absolutely save somebody’s life. 

Rachel: Yeah. And this is a great time to get started with something. I’m a firm believer in grabbing the tools before you need them and learning how to use them really before you need them. And right now, in the midst of, this is a great time to start processing, how social distancing place and all of that is already affecting you because it has been extended and we’re in this for a few more weeks now. And so waiting until the end of it and then having weeks and weeks and weeks of stuff to process, does make that, that journey to healing a lot harder because now you’ve got a lot more content to get through, right? So being proactive and starting some sort of counseling and processing of that information and how that’s impacting you now versus later is an enormous benefit. 

Megan: So yeah, awesome. Alright thank you Rachel so much. We really do appreciate it. Again, She Boss is designed to just help shine a light on these phenomenal women who are doing amazing things and Rachel’s case, literally transforming the lives of families across the state, which is just amazing. So feel free to reach out to her. She’s a rockstar. She’ll totally help you if you need it, and don’t be afraid to reach out if you ever need it. So thank you, Rachel, cheers to you really do appreciate it and we’ll talk with you soon.