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“How to Improve Mental Health” with Jolene Conway, Director of Clinical Programs at Sondermind


Today I am talking with Jolene Conway who is a licensed therapist and counselor living in Denver, Colorado. She works part time through her private practice with clients who have anxiety and digestive issues. On top of her counseling work she also has a degree in Functional Nutrition. Jolene says it’s important to think about the whole person instead of just parts when looking at connections between the mind, body and soul.

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She is now the Director of Clinical Programs at Sondermind where she supports therapists and their own private practices in order to help them thrive. Sondermind allows people to better serve their community by helping individuals get matched with the right therapist. 

Jolene stumbled upon Sondermind as she worked with physicians that focused on behavioral health within their practice. She noticed that people were struggling with not knowing how to get mental health help, whether it meant simply finding the right doctor or finding somewhere that would accept their insurance. 

She knew she wanted to be a part of the solution when it came to this issue of lack of resources and that’s when she found Sondermind. 

About the Company 
The founders of Sondermind are Mark Frank and Sean Boyd. Boyd was a licensed counselor who jumped into private practice but quickly realized that there was a lot of behind the scenes work that went into it and wanted to be the person to help others navigate those issues. Mark Frank was a businessman who was actually seeking therapy for his family and faced the unfortunate reality of struggling to find the right fit in terms of therapists. 

Both men realized something extremely important – mental health help shouldn’t be so hard

Where Do You Begin?
Jolene tells us that statistically 80% of Americans wouldn’t be able to get mental health services if they weren’t able to utilize their health benefits. These barriers make it difficult for people in crisis to get the help they need if they are not up to the task. 

Sondermind helps to take the “leg work” out of that. They’re able to look at things that are really important to clients like location, payment types, and what areas you’re looking to address when seeking mental help. On the other hand, they also help the providers find the best matches in clients in terms of the types of people they are looking to help, their scheduling preferences, etc. 

In this way, Sondermind is able to match people with mental health providers that will have the best outcome for both parties. 

Sondermind is different from other online therapy services because they utilize both technology as well as human aspects when looking to build a connection and rapport between people and therapists. 

Their company is quickly growing and they have about 1,500 therapists representing them in five different states. At the time of the company’s conception they had about 50 providers in their inventory which Jolene says at the time felt like a lot of people. However, looking two years into the future she says that there has continued to be a demand for mental health providers nationally. 

How Can You Improve Your Mental Health Right Now?
In times of crisis, Jolene says it’s important to reflect on what has worked in the past for you when you struggle. She says, “The tools you use are only as powerful as they’re valuable to the individual.” For example, if meditation is not an effective way to help ease your anxiety, you might want to look at other ways to help you. Knowing what has worked in the past will help to ease your mental health during the pandemic. 

Secondly, Jolene says that structure is a key component for people struggling during the pandemic. Obviously your schedule will not look like it usually does, but any type of control you can give yourself will help make things feel more normal. If you can plan on when you will wake up, eat food or exercise you gain a sense of normalcy back in your life. 

You must continue to ask yourself what you have control over in your life right now and don’t minimize those things. 

Jolene also stresses that while it’s easy to feel like you have all the time in the world to discover new hobbies right now, it’s okay to also give yourself grace and work on self care. You can operate at 70% and not feel like you have to be 120% even though you may see people like this on social media. 

Why is Mental Health Important?
Jolene answers simply, “We all have it.”

Mental health does not always mean there’s an issue. We all have the ability to be mentally well or have mental struggles. It brings people together and mental vs. physical health is usually compartmentalized, but they are one in the same. 

If we don’t look at both of those things we will limit the potential to be fully healthy. They can’t be categorized as separate. 

Post Pandemic – What’s Next?
As we move into the start of fall, Jolene mentions that it is crucial for us to stay connected to others. She says, “No matter who you are, human interaction is a necessity of life. It’s a factor of health and vitality. It can increase your self esteem, decrease anxiety and increase work productivity.  

What is best for our mental health are quality connections. When we feel most heard and when we laugh are great examples of such. 

As we navigate post pandemic, it’s important to continue to practice positivity and have gratitude in our lives. This helps us to connect our physical health with our mental health. It can lower symptoms of depression as well as increase our life span longevity. 

Simply put, if you do good, you will feel good

Lastly, Jolene stresses that as we grow, we must remember that our life is not a one-way path. We have to work towards living congruently with our values and our priorities. Do your values match up with the time and energy you put into tasks on a daily basis? That is the pathway to happiness. 

Continue to ask yourself, “How do I take advantage of what I have day in and day out in order to thrive?”

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Hello, I'm Jennifer Deputy

I am a writer, blogger, and traveler. Being creative and making things keep me happy is my life's motto.

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