Jun 1, 2021
On this episode of the Mind Itself, Ken Falke, founder of the Boulder Crest Foundation, joins to talk about the importance of his program that is geared towards veterans, first responders, and those in professions that deal with PTSD. Boulder Crest is a nonprofit organization that specializes aiding in helping men and women who experience trauma live their life to the fullest.
Boulder Crest Background
Ken spent 21 years in the navy, and while there had his fair share of experiences with PTSD. Not only did he deal with it himself after an injury, but he saw families and other soldiers going through it all around him. After starting a small profit foundation for severely wounded bomb troops, Ken saw that there wasn’t a lot of treatment going on for mental health in the early stages of recovery from physical injuries.
Ken and his wife decided to dedicate some of their lands to create a retreat in which they would build a home away from home from families going through these tough times of dealing with great physical and mental difficulties.
Focus on Post-Traumatic Growth
As Ken researched for Boulder Crest, he realized that mental health treatment wasn’t working. People would go for a few weeks but eventually, drop out. After observing this, he went around the United States to talk to some of the best psychologists in the country. This is when he observed that people are often bound by the mental health treatment system by insurance – and that they are looking for easy solutions and instant care.
Eventually, he met with a top psychologist that told him that only 4% of prisoners of war survivors deal with PTSD compared to 30% of the general military. Why was this? It was because the people that were in those prisons were mentally trained and prepared to go through the worse. They knew that if they overcame what they were going through in those moments, that they’d get out and make their lives successful afterward.
Ken wanted to base his program after this idea of success after trauma, or post-traumatic growth. It takes the phrase “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” to a whole new level; it’s thriving and living life after seeing the worst of the world.
The Downsides of Mental Health Labels
More times than not, labels are more of a burden on the individual that is experiencing it. It inhibits them and places them into a category in which there is a system that aims to cure them – but mental struggles don’t have cures. They are lifelong battles. There is no changing the past, one can only live in the present and change their future. Ken wanted to give people space where they could learn this, rather than be churning in and out of the system that wasn’t working.
Boulder Crest doesn’t just want to reduce symptoms like most mental health treatments aim to do. Ken wanted people to be able to experience a quality-of-life improvement. To him, the opposite of suicide isn’t making you feel less bad, but it’s rather living a great life. Helping humans self-regulate their emotions and life is the goal of treatments.
Boulder Crest has four areas of wellness, which are based on mind, body, financial wellness, and spirituality (which breaks down on character, actions, and relationships.) It also focuses on supporting families who are watching loved one’s struggles. Mental illness is often contagious, it’s easily spread and can affect beyond just one individual.