After the Webinar: A Trusted Source of Mental Health Resources. Q&A with Amy Morgan

Webinar presenter Amy Morgan answered a number of your questions after her presentation,  A Trusted Source of Mental Health Resources. Here are just a few of her responses.



Audience Question: What’s the difference between 211, 988, this whole brand new number system that’s coming here soon? And the 10 digit crisis line, do they all intersect? Is there some overlap? Help us understand?

Amy Morgan: Alright. So, I wish I knew more about the 988, I’ve heard about it, but I don’t have a lot of research on it. So, I’m going to have to decline, to answer that one. 211 is its own organization, which blends in with the 10 digit pipeline to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, those call takers in. So, imagine a little mall call center and they may have just three people, four people working in there. If you call 211, one of those four people is going to answer. If you call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, one of those four people going to answer. When they pick up the phone and say “Hi, this is the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline,” they have their computer in front of them, and you say, “Yeah, I’m going to, I’m in crisis. I can’t pay my bills and am about to get kicked out,” They can then look in the 211 database. So, it’s an actual database that then is connected to the crisis line. So, and if somebody else is a 988 expert, feel free to share, I just don’t want to address something. I don’t know and am not knowledgeable about.


Audience Question: So, follow up to that, could a law enforcement officer call 988 or the crisis line for themselves? Or do they have to go to the LEO-specific crisis lines?

Amy Morgan: You can call any crisis line. You don’t have to. Law enforcement officers don’t have to go to Copline. If you want to call a National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Call the crisis line. If you’re a firefighter, and you want to call Copline, they’re not going to turn you away. Just know that they are law enforcement officers, and they are trained to talk to law enforcement officers. So, I think the point of it is to call whoever is going to get you, and who’s going to help you. So, they’re not going to say, I don’t think any crisis line is going to say, oh, you’re that! We can’t help you. They’re not going to do that. They’re there to help, whoever needs help.


Audience Question: Do you think there’ll be more staffing for these crisis line hotline centers once 988 rolls out. Do you think that it’ll get better in terms of the wait times?

Amy Morgan: I hope so. The wait time is partly though not a staffing issue. It is literally, you call the number and while it is looking up your area code and trying to find what is your local center? If you called here? Are you going to get Tulsa or Oklahoma City? And it will direct you end to that, and then finally, get you into that? I mean, I wish it was a faster system. Like I said, when we hang up here, I’m going to look at 988 and learn more about it. But, I mean, I don’t think it’s a staffing issue because there are a lot of volunteers. It’s a lot of trying to find trainers to get them trained, like, National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, they have to be trained on ASIST. To find an ASIST class in your area because it is an in-person class that’s kind of been prohibited lately. Just the fact that we can’t do in-person classes, but also, if they only have two people sign-up, it’s hard to have a class. They have to wait. So, it’s not a matter of I think finding the people, there are a lot of people that care and want to man the phones. It’s just, there’s a lot of people calling them. We have one for Oklahoma City. We have one for Tulsa. You have to have volunteers and it’s 24/7. It’s not like you can hire four people, you have to have people on shift all the time. So, I’m not really sure if that relates to 988, again, I’m going to have to not answer those questions.


Audience Question: It seems like with COVID everything has become tele-available. So, telemedicine, distance learning, remote work, all that kind of stuff. What do you think though of teletherapy? Is it a good thing?

Amy Morgan: Any therapy is good therapy. But I say that with a caveat. But if you are trying to do teletherapy with a therapist and you’re just not, it’s just not clicking. It could be the therapist, or it could be the therapist isn’t comfortable doing telehealth. I have some therapist friends who are fantastic, phenomenal therapists, but refuse to do teletherapy because they feel like they need to be sitting in the room with the person and reading body language, and that sort of thing. I personally, all people are supposed to have a counselor, I have a counselor. Teletherapy works great. It’s convenient, you don’t have to leave the house, we still have a conversation. If you are doing Zoom meetings as often as people are now and if you’re face-timing, that sort of thing, teletherapy is no different. You just sit in and have a one-on-one conversation. You don’t have to drive to the counselor’s office. But the good thing about teletherapy now especially is… Your therapist has to be licensed in the state where you live. So, let’s say I live in Oklahoma. I can go to a therapist, that’s 300 miles away on the other side of Oklahoma because it’s a really good therapist. I really click with that one. I can do it via teletherapy because I don’t have to drive 300 miles. So, you can actually go to any therapist who’s licensed in the state you live in. And there could be a counselor in Texas, who’s licensed in Oklahoma. And I could see that therapist if it’s the right therapist. So, it opens up all sorts of avenues. I believe in it, but you have to get this, if the therapist doesn’t want to do it, obviously, that’s going to be a barrier. I think you could do perfectly good therapy via teletherapy if that was the actual question.


Audience Question: Do you know of any support resources, specifically for mental health providers, since you were talking about mental health, and you have a therapist, do you know of any support resources for mental health providers? 

Amy Morgan: Yeah. So, as a licensed clinician, you have to first go through supervision, and you have to hire a supervisor to get you through to mentoring through learning. Sometimes those supervisors can turn into your clinician. And counselors are encouraged to go find counselors, and I think anybody, who’s hearing stories of other people and dealing with other people’s trauma and that sort of thing, should have some way to process after your counselor. So, the first responder counselors, for instance, that directory, like if you’re the first responder, it would be really beneficial for you to have a counselor that also worked with first responders. So, a lot of us that work with first responders, we talk to each other. Because you don’t, I don’t want, just like a first responder wants to go to a counselor who gets them. If I’m seeing first responder clients and I’m hearing all of those stories. I don’t want to then go to a counselor who doesn’t get first responders, but they’re not going to get my story as a counselor. You have to find a counselor who, just like you’re going to find the counselor that’s right for you as a client, a counselor also has to find the right fit for the type of work they’re doing, so that the counselor they’re seeing get them and is able to support them and help them.


Audience Question: When we’re looking for support and counseling, having that cultural aspect of a counselor who gets, and I put air quotes around, they get law enforcement. They get firefighters, that’s critical, nice to have. What’s your take on that?

Amy Morgan: Obviously, I believe strongly in it, because I’ve developed a certified first responder counselor program like it. That’s why I developed it, I was working with officers, firefighters, paramedics, everybody. I’d say you need to go to a counselor and they’re like, “No, they don’t get me.” I heard stories about, you know, “I went to a counselor 3 or 4 times and the fourth time, the counselor said, I can’t see you as a client anymore, because your stories are traumatizing me. I didn’t know what to expect.” And so, then, you know, they have to find another counselor, they’re not going to. They’re going to say, I tried counseling, it didn’t work. So, I think it’s extremely important. It’s like there are counselors that are trained in working with children, and you wouldn’t send a child to just any old counselor who doesn’t know how to work with children. If the population they work with, they need to thoroughly understand them and be competent enough in their knowledge of those clients. In order to be able to bring an officer into the office, and not say, “Oh, you need to leave your gun in your car.” That data that shows, they don’t understand them, they need to come and be themselves, be understood, be accepted, be not judged, and be able to tell their stories about what happens on the job without the counselor going, “What? I don’t understand what you mean.” And then having to explain everything. They need to go in and be themselves, tell their story without worrying about traumatizing the counselor. The counselor needs to already understand the kinds of stories that will come into their office.

Host: You know I hadn’t thought about the inadvertent or secondary traumatization of the counselor and hearing some of the stories that our first responders just deal with on a daily basis.

Amy Morgan: Yeah, and me, I don’t actually do counseling, I don’t have a counseling practice, I’m just trying to be a counselor, but I do these suicide interventions when I teach. As I go around and teach, I’ll have people come up to me, you know, at break, and tell me their story. I hear all of these stories. I’m carrying those around with me, and that’s why a counselor needs a counselor.


Audience Question: You talked about having a counselor in place and seeing them twice a year.  Do we have to see them twice a year? Or could we just have a name in place sort of like that general practitioner? We might see them once a year, maybe every other year. But we have that name that we can call when it’s needed. What are your thoughts?

Amy Morgan: Well, I might have very clear thoughts on that. My thoughts are going to the damn counselor. Go to the counselor. There’s never a year, you have a whole year where everything’s going fantastically, and you never feel like you need to talk to somebody. Go to the counselor, because then when it is time when something does happen, you’re not like, oh, now, I’ve got to go get to know this person. I haven’t talked to them in three years. I have to explain everything to catch them up. You go once a year, or twice a year, it’s not that hard, it’s an hour out of your day, twice a year. Go and have that conversation, and just deal with whatever you’re going through at the time. And then when something does make you feel like you need to go, you already know the person. You don’t have to catch them up. You are an existing client or patient of theirs and you just make your appointment, and you go, I believe very strongly in keeping that relationship intact. You don’t go, “I’m not going to talk to my husband, but I have a name in my pocket. I’m not going to talk to him for three years. It’ll be fine when I do need him, I’ll call him.” Like, that’s not a relationship. You have to have that relationship in place then you can just call them. They already know you. You don’t have to refresh their memory, and it’s not going to hurt you to go to a counselor once a year or twice a year.

Host: So, it’s kind of like a checkup from the neck up in a way.

Amy Morgan: Right.


Audience Question:  What was the name of that first responder trusted counselor directory again? I think it’s the ones on the screen, but Amy, just re-iterate that those are what you were talking about when you reference the first responder counselor directory, right?

Amy Morgan: Here’s the link to the first responder counselor directory.


Click Here to Watch a Recording of A Trusted Source of Mental Health Resources.

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