Police officers are seldom asked to respond to something positive. The nature of their jobs is to assist when things go wrong. Vehicle accidents, crime, and death are part of the job description for the average law enforcement officer. They are trained to run toward danger rather than away from it.

Yet when it comes to managing their mental health, the general practice is to bury those emotions and “just do your job.” Join us as Sheriff Jay Armbrister shares why this practice must change for not only officer safety but public safety as well.

Sheriff Jay Armbrister

Sheriff Jay Armbrister has served the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office for 24 years as a law enforcement officer, and he was elected Sheriff and took office in January 2021. As Sheriff, Jay has committed to ensuring the long-term success of the Sheriff’s Office and improving outcomes for residents with behavioral health needs and public safety in the community. Sheriff Armbrister, who serves on the Board of Directors of the Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center, has worked with community leaders from many sectors to develop a continuum of behavioral health crisis services to serve the right person in the right place at the right time. This includes the development of the Treatment and Recovery Campus of Douglas County that provide services and housing for individuals with serious mental illness, substance use disorders, and addiction challenges.

As Sheriff, he has also made it a priority to support the mental health of law enforcement officers and all first responders, by giving DGSO employees access to a culturally competent clinician. The agency’s Peer Support team members are trained to offer support individually and to conduct critical incident debriefings for those who responded to a difficult call. At the state level, he has testified before the Kansas Senate Commerce Committee in favor of a bill that would secure workers’ compensation benefits for first responders with PTSD.

Armbrister is involved in numerous community organizations in Douglas County and has received the Sheriff’s Office Medal of Bravery and a Silver Life Saving award from the Kansas Association of Chiefs of Police for his responses to the 2005 Boardwalk Apartments fire in Lawrence and an Operations Commendation Award and Silver Valor Award for rescuing a driver involved in a rollover crash.

Armbrister is a graduate of Pittsburg State University as well as numerous law enforcement leadership programs, including the University of Kansas Certified Public Manager (CPM) program.

Gabe Howard

Gabe Howard is an award-winning writer and speaker who lives with bipolar disorder. He is the author of the popular book, “Mental Illness is an Asshole and other Observations,” available from Amazon; signed copies are also available directly from the author.

Gabe makes his home in the suburbs of Columbus, Ohio. He lives with his supportive wife, Kendall, and a Miniature Schnauzer dog that he never wanted, but now can’t imagine life without.

To book Gabe for your next event or learn more about him, please visit gabehoward.com.

Producer’s Note: Please be mindful that this transcript has been computer generated and therefore may contain inaccuracies and grammar errors. Thank you.

Announcer: You’re listening to Inside Mental Health: A Psych Central Podcast where experts share experiences and the latest thinking on mental health and psychology. Here’s your host, Gabe Howard.

Gabe Howard: Hello, everyone. I’m your host, Gabe Howard, and calling in to the show today, we have Sheriff Jay Armbrister. Sheriff Armbrister has served the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office for 24 years. As sheriff, he has made it a priority to support the mental health of law enforcement officers and all first responders at the state level. He has testified before the Kansas State Commerce Committee in favor of a bill that would secure workers compensation benefits for first responders diagnosed with PTSD. Sheriff Armbrister, welcome to the show.

Sheriff Jay Armbrister: Well, thank you so much for having me.

Gabe Howard: I’m going to start by telling you that I’m the son of a now retired semi-truck driver, and I want to share that. Growing up, my father refused to discuss his feelings. In fact, I don’t believe that my father had any ability to recognize a looming mental health crisis in himself. And even if he could, he wouldn’t have accepted help for it if anyone else happened to notice. Now, for my father, the stakes are just relatively low, right? Especially compared to law enforcement. My father doesn’t carry a gun. He doesn’t have the ability to arrest anybody. And all that said, I still saw firsthand how this toxic denial of his own mental health played out in his life. So, I want to start with a bit of an uncomfortable question. Isn’t it just good public policy to ensure that law enforcement officers and other first responders have access to the mental health care that they need just for the safety of the public they are serving?

Sheriff Jay Armbrister: Oh, absolutely. I think it should be the top priority. Especially in today’s day and age, we’ve seen so many examples of bad outcomes when it comes to law enforcement contacts with citizens. And I’m not saying that any of this is a fact of the matter, but maybe some of those officers were not in the right headspace or were not mentally healthy when they entered into those situations. And if an officer dislocates their shoulder during an arrest or a chase or a fight or something, that officer is sent to the doctor, they get x rays. They’re like, you need to be off work for X number of weeks and rehab it. And then you have to prove that you’re able to come back when you’re ready. But an officer suffers a mental trauma or in my case, like a series of traumas. There’s nothing for that. There’s no x rays, there’s no nothing. And even sometimes when the officer says, I don’t feel good, that agency will say, too bad, you got to get back out there. We need you. And nobody, nobody wants a mentally unhealthy officer on any call, much less one that them or their family are going to be on. And so, it only makes sense. I mean, there’s nobody, nobody will say no that guy should definitely still be working. No, they shouldn’t. They need to be taken care of. And then when they’re ready to come back to work, let’s work through that. But just it seems very, very simple. And you’re absolutely right. It’s just good public policy.

Gabe Howard: When I hear your example, I’m pretending now that I’m a police officer. I want to be clear. Not a police officer had no police training. I do law enforcement

Sheriff Jay Armbrister: [Laughter] Right.

Gabe Howard: Training, so I know police officers. But that’s as, I’m like police officer very, very, very, very adjacent.

Sheriff Jay Armbrister: [Laughter]

Gabe Howard: But I’m thinking about it as a person. Let’s say that I had a partner. I was a police officer. I had a partner. I’m out there policing. I have to I have to do the police things. And my partner shows up and he’s on crutches and he’s

Sheriff Jay Armbrister: Mm-hmm.

Gabe Howard: Like, No, no, I got this. And I’m like, What do you mean you got this?

Sheriff Jay Armbrister: Yeah.

Gabe Howard: And I think I don’t I don’t know if I want the person watching my back to be on crutches. And it gets even worse, though. See, crutches means that there has been some sort of treatment, right? There’s a cast, there’s crutches. But what if it was even worse? What if what if they just show up limping? And I’m like, Hey, do you get that checked out? No, I’m tough. I don’t need this problem. Or what if it gets even worse? Hey, you’re limping. No, I’m not. I’m not limping at all. And when people hear like that example, they think, wow, that’s just somebody needs to step in. Where where’s the commanding officer? Where’s the lieutenant? Where’s the boss? Where are just the other police officers are like, Dude, you what do you mean you can’t tell that you’re limping. All of that is completely nonexistent in mental health. We know the people that we work with. We know when they you know, they tell a lot of jokes and then suddenly they haven’t told any jokes for a week. Right. We know when their personality shift dramatically. We see all kinds of examples of where they’re just like snapping at people, yelling at people. And everybody thinks, well, I wonder what’s up with him or her? And then nothing and then nothing happens. Is that culture changing?

Sheriff Jay Armbrister: Yeah, you’re absolutely right. And that’s actually a very great example. I may even be stealing that from you. But, um, it’s a proven fact that we spend more time with our coworkers than we do with our families and our best friends and our close friends. We spend so much more time together that that’s I mean, that’s kind of the colloquial, you know, we’re a family. It’s a brotherhood or sisterhood or fraternal. So that’s absolutely spot on. But when it comes to how do we address this and how do we go about changing this, it’s all about culture. It’s about coming out and saying this is something that we have to do and it’s okay to not be okay, but it’s not okay to stay that way. It’s kind of the thing that gets used. But for me, it was easiest to just use my own path, use my own story to let them know that I understand. I get it. Here’s what happened to me. And you would be so amazed with how many people are like, No kidding. I had that too, and I just thought it was me. And what we’re trying to do is create a space where it’s okay for people, for folks who are supposed to be the toughest amongst us to come forward and say, you know what, I think I do need some help.

Sheriff Jay Armbrister: And then we don’t judge them. We don’t make fun of them. We were like, I’m so proud of you for saying that. Let’s get moving on this. What do you need? And then we take it from there. Breaking down that toxic masculine, you know, get back in the saddle, tough guy on the block culture that we’ve been, buried under for decades is tough. But I also think that as we see a new generation of police officers and deputies coming into the millennials, they are much more in tune with how they feel. And they are their culture is different than maybe you and I and the folks that are older than us. So, they’re a little bit ahead of the game. But it’s convincing the ones who maybe fall, you know, believe they kind of buy into that I’m the police. I’m supposed to be the toughest guy here and breaking them down and kind of showing them that it’s okay to be human for just a minute. I think that’s the biggest victories that you can you can have. And it all just starts with culture. It’s all about creating that space for them to say, I need help or I’m not okay.

Gabe Howard: I want to be the first person to say that I know unequivocally that television shows are not representative of law enforcement culture. I just I want to make sure that that, you know, that I know that before I ask this next question.

Sheriff Jay Armbrister: Absolutely. Absolutely.

Gabe Howard: Every single law enforcement show, from your Law & Orders to your NCIS, they always have this trope where there’s an officer involved shooting. Right. And it doesn’t even matter if the person that they shot dies or not. There’s just an officer involved shooting and then there’s always this struggle. Okay, well, you have to see the shrink. Well, I don’t want to see the shrink. That’s stupid. Well, look, it’s just policy. You have to. I can’t believe that they’re all over me. I hate this. And everybody argues and they roll their eyes and they make it stupid. And maybe they see the shrink on the show. Maybe they don’t. But the point that I’m really getting at is in the public consciousness is this idea that even after a police officer shoot somebody, pulls their weapon, shoots somebody. The minute somebody like, hey, I want you to talk to a mental health professional about shooting another human, law enforcement is like, forget it. I don’t want to. I don’t even want to answer a single question about shooting someone. Is that the culture inside? Because the public very much believes that law enforcement is just like, Yeah, we shot you, we’re good.

Sheriff Jay Armbrister: Yeah, I mean, TV has created all sorts of chaos when it comes to the law enforcement and the judicial system. I mean, CSI tells you that that we can solve a very complex case in an hour, you can get results back on DNA in ten minutes. And that’s just not the case. But you’re absolutely right. And I’ll tell you this, is that the old saying is always, you know, two people can hear the same can, you know, hear the same words, but come away with two different perceptions. Two officers or deputies can be involved in the exact same incident and come away with two completely different takes on how it went and how they’re doing. Now, I do know that there are officers who have expressed disinterest in going because they say they’re fine. And in fact, to the point there was a case detail. And this this trooper was telling the story about how he had to shoot somebody. And I asked him directly what sort of mental health follow up. What did you do for yourself? And he said, I didn’t talk to anybody. I said, well, why not? And he said, well, who am I going to go talk to? Because I’m just pissed I didn’t shoot him sooner.

Sheriff Jay Armbrister: And right there I realized that this person was not in a space to seek out that help or would have entered into it and let it do its thing. Now, that is, I believe, to be the outlier the rest of the time they may say, Man, I’m okay. I don’t want to go and see anybody or, you know, let’s just get this over with. But nine times out of ten, they get in that room and they talk about it and they get it off their chest and then they may come out and even say that didn’t do any good. But deep inside, they know it did. But I also think that, again, that culture is changing as well because we’ve we talk about everything now. There’s no reason not to talk about something as horribly traumatic as an officer involved shooting or being shot at. And I think in my experience inside the system that I’m in here in northeast Kansas, I think that I think that we’re in a good place. And I don’t think that that stigma has stayed attached or is being mimicked as we maybe once thought or that people may think. I think that we’re in just such a better place when it comes to talking about these things and creating that space for officers and deputies to do that.

Gabe Howard: I think about the NFL, and the NFL has what they call a concussion protocol. If you get hit in the head, they just go and check you out. You don’t get an opinion. It’s just they have determined that certain types of head shots or tackles or bumps, however you want to phrase it, just get you put into this concussion protocol. The end, no conversation. You can’t play until it’s done, so you might as well get it over with. And at first there was, well, we’re tough football players. We don’t care. And now we’re a few years down the road and players just do it. They’re just like, Hey, you got to go to concussion protocol, Fine. And they rush over. They go through the concussion protocol; they get cleared and they come back. Is there any kind of protocol for I, I, I unbuckled a dead body. I, I found a dead body. There was a particularly scary car crash. I just, I think about the things that first responders see, and I think to myself, wow, do we need a mental health protocol? Or is it just like, hey, it’s part of your job, you’ll be fine.

Sheriff Jay Armbrister: Well, that used to be the trope. The wording, you know, you would say, man, I just you wouldn’t believe what I saw or heard or, you know, smelt or felt last night. Um, that and people would say, Man, I know it sucks, but that’s just what we do. You know, it’s, you know, if you don’t like the smell of paint, don’t be a painter. And, and, and that was definitely the culture. Well, now and starting, I’d say probably ten, 15 years ago even, but it was pretty slow start. What we do is, um, here specifically, if it’s something that rises to the level where, where it’s just outside of the normal operating procedures or just daily grind, so to speak, what we’ll do is we’ll bring everybody together and anybody who was on scene or the dispatcher who was working behind the radio or, you know, anybody that was maybe called in later, we will bring them all together and we’ll have what we call a critical incident debriefing. And what it is, is you have a clinician, so somebody who is a competent, culturally competent clinician, such as a psychologist who deals with first responders, then you also have you try to have clergy, somebody there that can help some spiritual aspects if needed. But then you have other peers. So, like we had an officer that was killed in a neighboring county. And so, I went in as a peer because I’m a you know, I just I’m a good ear and I understand the trauma of it, but I’m not connected to them.

Sheriff Jay Armbrister: But I can come in as a as another law enforcement officer and they immediately trust me a little bit more than you would just anybody. And what we do is we just sit down and we talk about it. We talk about what you saw, what you felt, and then what you thought about it. And then and then we also do some educational pieces about how, you know, drinking is unhealthy. Make sure you get some sleep and that kind of stuff. But we have found those to be unbelievably helpful. And the best thing that can happen in one of those is for somebody else in that room to open up and then you can just watch the doors and lock all the way around. And next thing you know, everybody is talking about their deepest, darkest secret about how this really did bother them. And but then and then once that meeting’s over, if you need more help, we’ll get you more help. But we’ve created something that I feel is pretty special, but we’ve run into situations where, you know, you’ll have you’ll have an employee or even a law enforcement officer in mental crisis, like in a crisis trying to get them in to see a professional and that professionals say, I can see them next Thursday.

Sheriff Jay Armbrister: I’m like, well, you know, this guy’s in the hospital right now because he was threatening to kill himself this morning. I can’t wait till Thursday. So, in order to try to fix that, what we’ve done is we’ve created a contract with a well with one, hopefully two now, um, culturally competent clinicians to where I basically purchase 2 to 3 hours out of their schedule every week. So those hours are there for me and my, my employees. And what my employees can do is first off, if they just feel like they need to talk to her about anything, they can call and make an appointment and it doesn’t cost them a dime. But it also creates a space for me to call her and say I’ve got somebody that needs to be seen. And she then has to say, okay, I’ll either I’ll be there or you can bring him here at 3:00 or take him or her to Doctor X because I can’t do it. And she will find us somebody who can do it. So that’s been very helpful. And the usage of it has been tremendous. And we’re very proud of, you know, and the cost of it is while, you know, it’s not insignificant, but it’s definitely worth it because you can’t quantify what, you know, what the cost really could be if something went wrong.

Gabe Howard: I keep going back to my father as an example. And here’s why. When I got sick, when I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, I started seeing a therapist. And I felt really bad about it. And I felt really bad because, you know, I wanted to be a man, right? I wanted to be like my dad, my real tough dad. And I was very worried and embarrassed about telling him. But obviously I had to. So, I told my dad, I said, you know, I’m seeing a therapist. And my dad said, yeah, me too. And I said, Wait, what? And he goes, Yeah, I see a therapist. It started when your mom and I went to marriage counseling. So, both of those things just floored me, right? My parents are in marriage therapy and my dad is now seeing a therapist on his own. And I did not know this. And I’ve asked him, you know, my father and I have had many conversations over the years about why this is. And he says this isn’t the kind of thing that you burden your family with.

Gabe Howard: And I pointed out to him that, you know, I resisted talking to anybody, getting help because I thought this was what I was supposed to do. You inadvertently put me in harm’s way. My dad thought he was modeling strong morals and ethics, and in actuality, he was modeling don’t get help when you’re sick, even though he was getting help when he was sick. Ah, the other law enforcement officers, are they modeling this or are they going quietly and keeping quiet or are they like, Hey, I did this, it helped? What is this like in first responder and law enforcement culture?

Sheriff Jay Armbrister: What you’re describing in a somewhat similar way is just the whole peer aspect of what we’re trying to do. When I was when I found myself in my position where, you know, I didn’t want to live anymore and I just didn’t understand what was going on. And I was just angry and hurt and sad and all that stuff. I, I didn’t want to say anything because I looked around and was like, Well, everybody else here has been through this same shit as I have. But they’re fine. They seem fine. So, what is wrong with me? You know? And that’s. That’s so common. That story is not mine alone. But what it took was for somebody else in the in the business to be like, you need to go see somebody, you know, and here’s who you need to go see, because she deals specifically with first responders. And that’s what I needed. I needed somebody who understood me and my world well. And then what we do now is we bring that peer aspect.

Sponsor Break

Gabe Howard: And we’re back with Sheriff Jay Armbrister discussing the mental health needs of police offers and first responders. Now you’re the sheriff, so you really are modeling the way. As the leader of your department, you’re telling people this is okay. You’re providing the resources and you’re helping your officers be better officers and live better lives. That is phenomenal. And I want to completely applaud you for being open with your story and leading by example and providing those resources. But of course, you’re one sheriff. And there’s thousands upon thousands upon thousands of you. Is this common across the country? And here’s why I ask when your pitch came across my desk, when we started talking and when I started researching, I thought this is going to be a great episode because it’s rare. And that’s when it hit me, Oh, it’s rare. Like, I want this to

Sheriff Jay Armbrister: I know.

Gabe Howard: Be so common that when you were like, Hey, Gabe, I want to come on your show and talk about how we’re providing resources to law enforcement and first responders, I want to be like, Yeah, so what? What next? Do you want me to do a show on how water is being provided to the fire department? This is

Sheriff Jay Armbrister: Right.

Gabe Howard: This is nonsense. But that wasn’t the case. This is this is a compelling show because it is, in fact, rare. How do we get the rest of the sheriffs on board? How do we make this as common as giving water to the fire department?

Sheriff Jay Armbrister: Well, again, I think it starts with culture. You need to have a leader who buys in. What I will say is that the resistance is there. There will always be resistance from the executive level for a few reasons. One is there’s always the fear that people will mess with the system and try to take advantage of it. Now, I have my own opinions in that, you know, if I’ve got five officers that need help and one of them is just trying to screw me, I’m still going to give all five of them the help because that’s four people that we’re saving. But then the other thing is, is that right now we’re at such a critical staffing shortage as a whole in the nation for law enforcement. Executives, chiefs, sheriffs, directors, they’re just a little bit hesitant to do this because they know they have people who are going to have to take time off of work because of it, and that’s going to put them even shorter. I know that’s the dark underbelly that nobody will ever admit to, but that is a thing. So, you have to be committed to doing this and doing it the very right way for the very right reasons and knowing full well that you may you may cost yourself some employees, but ultimately, it’s the right thing to do because you don’t want to keep that employee if it’s going to be unhealthy or dangerous for them.

Sheriff Jay Armbrister: And you sure as hell don’t want to put them on the street where it’s going to be dangerous for your citizens. It’s a quandary to a certain degree. But I believe that if you do it right, it will pay off in the end. But again, the payoffs, because you can’t quantify something that didn’t happen. I can’t quantify how many officers have not killed themselves because of what I’ve done. But we can we can quantify the ones that have. And so, we just have to be we have to be okay with the fact that we’re never going to know that that we made the difference. It’s only going to look like we cost ourselves employees. But knowing what we did was the right way for the right reasons, that’s that should be payment enough. And I hope that it’s wearing off. And I, I do see a national trend, especially locally, of sheriffs and chiefs buying into this because frankly, it helps with retention and hiring with this millennial age, because they want to know that they’re going to be taken care of. Um, so I think that ultimately it will pay off. It’s just going to it’s just going to take a little bit of time. It’s just kind of incremental, I suppose, is the right word.

Gabe Howard: I’m really thinking about this as a pay me now or pay me later mentality. In the 80’s, we closed down a lot of supports, a lot of, you know, the asylums, the hospitals, the things that were supporting people with very serious and persistent mental illness. And we were told that we were doing this because it would save money. Long and involved story there that we don’t have time to get into. But the bottom line is we were going to close these centers, these resources, these hospitals, because we would save money, but we didn’t really save money because all of those people became homeless. And now we have a homeless population issue that is costing money. And many went to prison and jails which going to prison and jail is very, very expensive. So, we’re spending the same amount of money, but the services are way worse. When you were talking, that’s what I was thinking about. I was like, well, well, now wait a minute. If they’re off work because of a mental health issue or they’re off work because of a public relations scandal, well, which one is worse? Isn’t it costing the same amount of time, money, resources and issues? And in fact, wouldn’t a public relations scandal be significantly worse and something that costs you time, resources and money?

Sheriff Jay Armbrister: Oh, absolutely. And I think I think I think you’re right on. And the fact that, you know, everybody likes to look at things from the from the George Floyd perspective on down. You know, you’ve got you’ve got the Freddie Gray’s, the Philando Castile, the just the absolutely horrible, horrible cases that that make me sick to my stomach. But you get all the way down into some little video of an officer being absolutely rude or just showing pure anger on maybe a car stop or a citizen contact or just verbally mistreating somebody that’s going to blow up because that video is going to get out. And that officer who should have who could have avoided that, maybe had they had the mental health care, that officer could have taken the days off, got themselves better, come back to work feeling better and possibly avoided that. But you get you get a video of you, you know, mother f-ing some poor citizen. You don’t recover from that. You never come back from that that will always follow you. And so, I think you’re absolutely right is like, you know, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. And I think that that’s changing, especially with the way that, you know, policing has had to change because of the number of eyes that are on them. And I think it’s great because a cop that is being watched is a cop that is doing right, in my opinion. And if they’re not, it’s easier for us to remove them from our business. So, I think that policing as a whole is changing, but the mental health aspect of is absolutely correct and that it’s worth it to me to pay the prevention than to pay than to try to find a cure later, which is just not going to be there.

Gabe Howard: Sheriff Armbrister, thank you so much for being here now. Up until now, we’ve been talking about public policy and how this is just good public policy and how it will help officers and first responders be better officers and first responders. But before we end, though, does it make them happier employees? Is this initiative improving the quality of their lives outside of work?

Sheriff Jay Armbrister: I do believe that that the needle is moving in the right direction. But again, this is a we are undoing, you know, decades of get back in the saddle. You’re the tough guy business or you’re the man of the house or, you know, you’re the one that’s in charge. Don’t let anybody tell you different. Well, that’s just not the case anymore. But it’s incrementally, and I think that the best help comes from within where somebody comes back and says, you know what? I wasn’t Well, here’s what I did. I went and got help. I feel so much better. You need to go and do it, too. So, I think that we are definitely moving in the right direction, but it’s just going to take a little bit of time. And I hope that, you know, by sharing my stories or even explaining what it is that we’ve done that we feel that has worked. I hope that that will help another agency or some other place to kind of figure it out and maybe even take the plunge if they’re if they’re kind of thinking about trying some of these new initiatives.

Gabe Howard: Did paying attention to your mental health improve your home life?

Sheriff Jay Armbrister: Oh, my gosh, yes. And not in the way that maybe some others, but, um, you know, my personal story and I’ll share it any time anybody wants to hear, but what really kind of kind of turned me to get help was my wife. So, my wife and I were high school sweethearts. We haven’t spent but a few minutes apart in our lives. And she came home from work one day and found me sitting on the couch. The TV wasn’t on. There was the radio wasn’t on. I was just sitting there and she said she said, Hey, we got to do something. I’m like, Well, what do you want me to do? And she said, I’m afraid that I’m going to come home from work some day and you’re not going to be here. And I knew what she meant because I because I had had the same thought. She thought I was going to I was going to be dead, whether it be because I had done something crazy at work and allowed myself to be killed or I’d taken my own life. And that was the moment where I realized that I had to get help, not just for me, but for her and for our two daughters. And so, when I went and got sought, the help that I needed, the two-year process played out, which ended with me going to a, it’s treatment.

Sheriff Jay Armbrister: But it was called a retreat. The West Coast Post-trauma, WCPR. And when I came back from that, I was able to, to really explain where I had been because I had been so closed off and isolated from all of them because I didn’t want to burden them, you know, as, as your dad said. Um, but, but from that moment on, it just became a thing that we knew, you know, we all knew Dad, Dad had this trouble, and now he’s back. And, you know, you still can’t make loud noises around Dad because it’ll freak him out. But. But we all know that he’s better now and we can talk about it. And if I have a problem, I can go and ask him about it. And. And it just opened the doors for us to just be a family again and to be a unit, to be a team and but also to go out and because even my kids were like, hey, so and so at school, you know, either their dad or their mom is having trouble. It sounds like they’re having a rough time or even the kid they’re having trouble.

Sheriff Jay Armbrister: Do you know of anybody that you think could help them? And if I can’t help them, I’ll find somebody. So, we’ve really opened a lot of avenues just within our family to talk about it. But on top of that, you know, my oldest daughter, she has had her own mental health struggles with, you know, her sexuality and just the way that she’s she perceives the world and anxiety and that kind of stuff. And but it just created this open dialog to where we just worked through it. We didn’t we didn’t have to fight through all of the. Well, what’s going on? Nothing. I’m fine. What are you doing? What are you doing? What’s wrong? We just went straight to the there’s a problem here. What is it? And she explained it, and then we got help. So, I feel like it’s really improved my home life. Um, and I. And I and I know for sure that there’s been other people who have come to me after and said that my, that, you know, you saved my marriage, you saved my life, kind of thing. So, I know that it is, it is happening. It’s just very hard to quantify.

Gabe Howard: Sheriff Armbrister, thank you. Thank you so much. If people want to learn more about you and about your initiatives, where can they find you online?

Sheriff Jay Armbrister: Well, obviously, the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, Douglas County, Kansas, we’re here in Lawrence, home of the Jayhawks. But they can look us up. We’re online, we’ve got our own website and everything. But the other thing is, I’ve got an email that comes to me that’s just sheriff@dgso.org. Sheriff at DGSO, Douglas County Sheriff’s office dot org and I love speaking with anybody. I share my story with anybody that needs it if people do reach out.

Gabe Howard: Thank you so much, Sheriff Armbrister, and thank you to all of our listeners. My name is Gabe Howard and I am the author of “Mental Illness Is an Asshole and Other Observations.” I’m also an award-winning public speaker who could be available for your next event. Look, my book is on Amazon because everything is on Amazon, but you can get a signed copy with free show swag or learn more about me just by heading over to gabehoward.com. Wherever you downloaded this episode, you can follow or subscribe to the show. It is absolutely free and I would appreciate it. Here’s another thing I would appreciate. Recommend the show. Share us on social media. Send an email. Send a text message. Sharing the show is how we grow. I will see everybody next Thursday on Inside Mental Health.

Announcer: You’ve been listening to Inside Mental Health: A Psych Central Podcast from Healthline Media. Have a topic or guest suggestion? E-mail us at show@psychcentral.com. Previous episodes can be found at psychcentral.com/show or on your favorite podcast player. Thank you for listening.