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Out of poverty and into mental health support. Join Thursday podcast 'History. Culture. Trauma.' with guest Rebecca Lewis-Pankratz


Each year millions of Americans face the reality of living with mental health struggles. The collective trauma of COVID-19 has exasperated our country’s mental health crisis. May is Mental Health Awareness Month. This month, co-hosts, Ingrid Cockhren, CEO of PACEs Connection, and Mathew Portell, director of communities, speak with guests about this country's science, support, education, advocacy, and policies focused on mental health.

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This week's episode—at 1 pm PT, 4 pm ET, Thursday—features Rebecca Lewis-Pankratz, a learning centers director and poverty consultant. She will discuss how rural poverty and systems, including foster care, impacted her journey. Lewis-Pankratz grew up in addiction and poverty. Against all odds, she was able to fight her way out of poverty and the trailer park in 2011 where she was living with her three young sons, after she connected with a local poverty resolution project and started her journey. She later went to work for that non-profit and went on to build multiple projects like it to help more families.

More about Rebecca Lewis-Pankratz

Today Lewis-Pankratz works with communities and schools across the US to solve poverty and heal trauma. She does this by helping caring leaders create sustainable ecosystems of resilience based on building better relationships.

In 2015, Lewis-Pankratz started working with public education and ignited a trauma-informed schools movement in her state and beyond. From her experience of trauma and poverty, and by accessing buffering relationships, Lewis-Pankratz healed from both poverty and addiction and continues to light the path for others.

Lewis-Pankratz and her team have partnered with Youth Core Ministries out of Greensburg, Kansas, to establish and sustain poverty resolution projects across Kansas and Illinois. Currently, they are working with over 200 families who are systematically building their paths out of poverty. Lewis-Pankratz is widely known in Kansas and across the United States for her extensive work in building trauma-informed schools.

Tune in Thursday at 1 p.m. PT; 4 .m. ET.

  • 5/26/2022: Caleb Campbell : Mental Health Awareness Month Coming Soon
  • 5/19/2022: Rebecca Lewis-Pankratz : Mental Health Awareness Month Coming Soon
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  • 5/5/2022: Dr. Bob Sege: Mental Health Awareness Month Listen Now


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There must be a point at which the status quo — where already large corporate profits are maintained or increased while many people are denied even basic shelter/income — can/will end up hurting big business’s own monetary interests. I can imagine that a healthy, strong and large consumer base — and not just very wealthy consumers — are needed. Or could it be that, generally speaking, the unlimited profit objective/nature is somehow irresistible, including the willingness to simultaneously allow an already squeezed consumer base to continue so — or even squeezed further?

[It brings to mind the allegorical fox stung by the instinct-abiding scorpion while ferrying it across the river, leaving both to drown.] When it comes to unhindered capitalism, I can see corporate CEOs shrugging their shoulders and defensively saying that their job is to protect shareholders’ bottom-line interests. The shareholders meanwhile shrug their shoulders while defensively stating that they just collect the dividends and that the CEOs are the ones to make the moral and/or ethical decisions.

As for emotional/psychological trauma from unhindered toxic abuse, it typically results in a helpless child's brain improperly developing. If allowed to continue for a prolonged period, it can act as a starting point into a life in which the brain uncontrollably releases potentially damaging levels of inflammation-promoting stress hormones and chemicals, even in non-stressful daily routines. I feel it’s a form of non-physical-impact brain damage.

The lasting emotional and/or psychological pain from such trauma is very formidable yet invisibly confined to inside one's head. It is solitarily suffered, unlike an openly visible physical disability or condition, which tends to elicit sympathy/empathy from others. It can make every day a mental ordeal, unless the turmoil is treated with some form of medicating, either prescribed or illicit.

Owing to the Only If It’s In My Own Back Yard mindset, however, the prevailing collective attitude (implicit or subconscious) basically follows: ‘Why should I care — my kids are alright?’ or ‘What is in it for me, the taxpayer, if I support programs for other people’s troubled families?’ While some people will justify it as a normal thus moral human evolutionary function, the self-serving OIIIMOBY can debilitate social progress, even when social progress is most needed. And it seems this distinct form of societal penny wisdom but pound foolishness is a very unfortunate human characteristic that’s likely with us to stay.

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