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October 7, 2021 60 mins

Trigger warning. This content includes references to suicide and other sensitive material. 


We need to talk about mental health. To talk about it is to understand it; to understand it is to remove the stigma, and removing the stigma provides a safe space for those suffering to seek help. Did you know that abuse, neglect, and adverse childhood experiences are considered the principal preventable causes of mental illness? In the presence of violence and absence of love, neglected children have chronic activation of the stress response system - something that will derail almost every aspect of their fragile development? Protecting and supporting our children emotionally and mentally from a young age is an urgent and non-negotiable need.


Look at mental health in the black community, and you will understand that the roots run much deeper, the abuse and neglect spanning generations. Black Americans are 20 percent more likely to experience serious mental health problems than the general population - with the stigma and shame of seeking help a massive barrier to protecting our communities.


In this episode, we hear from two important and influential guests. Charlamagne Tha God, co-host of the nationally syndicated show, The Breakfast Club, and Benjamin Perks, Head of Campaigns and Advocacy in the Division of Global Communications at UNICEF. Both Charlamagne and Benjamin share a personal passion and urgency for creating awareness around mental health. They may have very different audiences, but their message is clear there is hope, and the cycle can be broken.

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Episode Transcript

Available transcripts are automatically generated. Complete accuracy is not guaranteed.
Speaker 1 (00:04):
Welcome to Force Multiplier, a new podcast about leveling up
the impact we can have in the world through our relationships.
I'm barretton Day Thurston and in collaboration with I Heart
Radio and Salesforce dot Org, I sit with leaders from
across the public, private, and nonprofit world who are forging
partnerships to tackle some of the toughest challenges facing us today.

Welcome back to Force Multiplier. Today's theme is mental health.
To say I'm excited to talk about this topic, it
wouldn't be accurate. But i do need to talk about
this topic, and I'm very willing. I'm someone who has
loved sharing. When things are going well, I'm a performer,
always putting my best foot and face forward. When things

are hard, I suck it up by walk it off.
I use other metaphors for burying those uncomfortable feelings. At
least I used to do that by default. Now that
I've been in my forties for a few years, I'm
taking a more integrated approach to my health that incorporates
the physical, spiritual, and mental. I've benefited from a beautiful

relationship with a psychologist who helped me process the pain
of my divorce years ago. I've embraced breathwork, meditation, coaching,
all these things to become more attuned to my inner
self and make space for processing those uncomfortable feelings. It's
not always fun, I can't pretend that it is, but

it does make me healthier. I'm learning that investing in
my mental health is essential. I'm also learning just how
serious the effects of poor mental health can be on
all of us. One in seven adolescents aged ten to
nineteen is estimated to have a mental health condition, and

among adolescents, suicide is the fifth most prevalent cause of
death As students go back to school, seventies that identify
well being as a top challenge. Overall, less than half
of all Americans with the mental disorder get the treatment
that they need. The root causes of these mental health
challenges are often trauma and neglect we experience at a

young age. When we're loved at home, we go to
school to learn. When we aren't loved at home, we
go to school to be loved, and if we don't
have a deep connection with a parent or caregiver, we
feel a sense of threat, which impacts our emotional and
cognitive development. Just at the moment when we're most vulnerable.

If we take a look at the Black community, all
these indicators, they're just worse. In nineteen suicide was the
second leading cause of death for black youth age fifteen
to twenty four, and Black Americans generally are twenty percent
more likely to experience serious mental health problems than the
general population. Some of these root causes run deeper than

our individual childhood, and they span generations of neglect and
abuse based in a society and an economic system designed
precisely to neglect and abuse us. I've known and experienced
pieces of these facts my entire life. I've lost people
to suicide. I've lived in communities ravaged by neglect and abuse,

places where we distance ourselves from those who are hurting,
maybe because we fear it will highlight our own pain.
I'm still learning that the way to a healthier society
requires investment and participation by all members of society. Parents, educators, peers, policymakers, employers, everybody.

All of us must come together to support all of
us so we can all be healthier and whole. This
brings me to our guest, Charlemagne, the God co host
of the nationally syndicated show of Breakfast Club. New York
Times bestselling author and certainly one of the most influential
voices in modern culture. Known for his outspoken and brutally

honest rhetoric, Charlemagne is using his platform to amplify awareness
around mental health in the black community. Later in the episode,
we hear from Benjamin Perk's Head of Campaigns and Advocacy
in the Division of Global Communications at the United Nations
Children's Fund. In his role, ben leads public and policy
advocacy on issues related to the survival, development, and protection

of children. Two incredibly insightful conversations leaving us with a
lot to think about. Let's dive in. Charlemagne. I'm really good.
I'm really good. It's nice to be chatting with you
right now. Listen. You're you're so well known for the

Breakfast Club ten years. Congratulations on that. What does radio
mean to you beyond a job, beyond the source of income?
Oh man, I mean, that's what changed my life, is
what gave me a sense of purpose. You know, prior
to this, I was, you know, running the streets and
monks on the South Carolina doing a whole bunch of things.
I didn't have no business doing like I didn't. I

didn't know what my future was gonna be. My dad
was telling me that if I didn't change my ways,
you know, I was gonna end up in jail, dead
or broke, sitting under the tree. And you know, when
I started seeing people around me actually dying, when I started,
you know, seeing people around me going to prison, when
I started going to jail myself, I realized he was right.
And you know that that fear of literally being just

some dude sitting under the tree with nothing to show
for it but a can of bear every day, I
didn't want that for myself. And you know, I pride
myself on always being able to see, you know, what
life is gonna look like ten years from now. Anything
you do today directly impact what happens in your life tomorrow.
So I just started making the necessary adjustments. And so
for me, radio just gave me a sense of purpose

and it gave me a sense of of work that
I didn't have before. I can feel the energy of
that purpose and that worth shining through. It's still very
much present you. You've evolved, you know, from radio host
to author to activists and from the outside a lot
of people can see that trajectory and say, what a

smooth ride this brother has been on. Would have been
some of the hardest parts of building your career in
this way. Oh man, there's nothing been smooth. I mean
I've been fired, you know, four times. You have so
many ebbs and flows in this business, not really professionally,
but personally. There was a lot of things that I

hadn't dealt with, you know, as far as unresolved trauma,
and like, you know, I've been dealing with anxiety and
panic attacks my whole life. And in two thousand ten
was the first time the doctor said, you know, you
suffer from anxiety. And at the time, I have been
fired four times from radio. I'm like thirty two years old.
I'm back living at home with my mom. My first

daughter is now like one or two. My now wife
is back home living with her mom. We had to
pack up from Jersey and come back home. And like
when I had that really bad panic attack, I thought
I was going to die, and the doctor was like, no,
that sounds like you had an anxiety attack. He was like,
are you scratched out about anything? And I'm like, hell yeah,
So in my mind all I gotta do is get

another job, get back in position. That next radio gig
ended up being the Breakfast Club. Fast forward three or
four years, I'm having more success than I've ever had
in my life. I'm just really growing and evolving. But
I'm losing myself in the process because I started to
become a character to myself, because I was doing anything
to survive. I was really like pushing the limits on

that whole shock jock thing, you know what I'm saying.
And it was because I was getting rewarded for it. It
It was because I was getting right up since the
New York Times and all these different magazines and they're like, oh,
Charlemagne God is the hip hop Howard Stern and YadA, YadA, YadA.
So I'm like, oh, this is what they want. I'm
gonna give him more of that. And I probably was
being real and honest, but I was being real and
honest from a really bad place in space, because you know,

I was I hadn't done the work on myself. You
started getting more real with yourself and sharing that in
your book shook one anxiety planning tricks on me. And
one of the things you did in this book is
you know, I saw you describing it at one point
is you've gone to therapy for a while. You started
looking at your notes, and you decided to write from

those notes as someone who's been in therapy myself, but
came to it late in life because another black dude
friend of mine was like, you should talk to this person.
The idea that we don't have permission to that this
is something black folk don't do along with swimming and
eating mayonnaise, that the therapy is not for us, and
that there's a stigma associated with it for all kinds

of people, especially black people people in general, that you're weak,
that you don't have it, that you can't cut it,
that you can't hack it, and in the hyper competitive
industry like the one you're in. I guess that's a
long way of saying, did you realize what you were
doing to destigmatize conversations about mental health, to normalize conversations
about mental health? Absolutely not. I was just literally sharing

my experiences. That's why I tell people all the time,
I'm not an expert, you know, I mean, I'm just
a brother who was sharing his experiences. But to your point, Yeah,
when people started coming up to me, in the street
telling me they started going to therapy because of me,
when women were coming up to me saying my husband
started going because of you, or my brother, my uncle.
I remember Tracy and uh to Roger p Hinston. They

got the boards Lawrence Hinton Foundation, one of the only
other people out there speaking openly about mental health for
me and her used to do a lot of things together.
And remember somebody introduced me as a mental health advocate
and I'm like, nah, I'm not known mental health advocate.
And Tracy was like, brother, whether you want to be
or not, you are, and she said you need to

embrace it. You know, clearly God doesn't call the qualified,
He qualifies the call. And there's a lot of different
things that have happened over the past few years, you know,
along my journey of healing. That just makes me want
to dedicate my life to helping black people. Hell, just
my life's work. And so it's just like, man, I'll

be talking to some of these brothers. Not it's weird,
right because I'm still on my journey of healing, but
healed people here and see things differently. So it's things
I hearing brothers and seeing brothers and I'm like, I
don't judge them like I used to. I don't. I'm
not ready to critique them like I used to and
attack them like I used to, because I know that
brothers just dealing with unresolved trauma. I know that brother

is dealing with pain. I know that brothers dealing with hurts.
So I got a lot more empathy, you know, when
it comes to us as people, because of the work
I've done on myself, they're the saying hurt people, hurt people.
You kind of balanced that there with you healing people
in the process of healing, or at least bad are
able to be a part of someone else's process of healing,

all right, And the snap judgment and the willingness to attack.
It's a big opening to be able to see that
that comes. You know that that pain and someone else
maybe not be personal, may be historic, maybe intergenerational, may
be built on some trauma from earlier in their life.
We both love black people, and I can feel that love,

and I see it in a lot of your work.
And there are times when the size of what we've
been through as people overwhelms me. Right, I look at
all the beautiful things we've done but I also look
at all the ugly things we survived, and I'm just
amazed we're even here at all. How do you think

about the unique power of black people achieving a state
of mental health? What what would that mean for us?
And why is it such an important mission to you?
I recently heard Will Smith say, paraphrasing, basically, it doesn't
matter who broke it's it's up to you to fix it.

My talk show to God's on His Truth on Comedy
Central World Mental Health Day is Tintin. I'm doing a
mental health episode this week, and I'm talking about healing
as a black person. And the question I'm asking is
whose responsibility is it for you to heal? And the
answer is you, nobody else, nobody else. So yes, I

feel like man, there's so many things that we can't control.
There's so many things that we're all fighting to change,
you know, as far as systemic racism in this country,
but as far as us and dealing with our traumas,
it don't matter who broke us, It's up to us
to fix us. And I really truly feel like man,

when we become a generation of people who really go
out there and seek healing, I think we'll see such
a change in our communities because I think there's so
many different things that can be directly attributed to unresolved trauma.
You've created this beautifully titled Mental Wealth Alliance with a

mission to teach, and train and treat in part because
you experienced this gap in resources, uh, and you've witnessed
it in the black community. Share with our audience a
bit more about the gap you witnessed and how you've
designed programs with the Alliance to address it. Yeah. Well,
you know, um, teach, train, treat our three pillars. And

I just was looking at a lot of people who
are already out there during the work, you know, like
an organization out of Philly called Black Men Hell. And
you know, I donated some money to Black Men Hill
back in the day. And what I when I when
I saw what they were able to do, you know,
with the ten dollar donation I made, I was like, Wow,
they were able to provide free therapy for all of

these different black men. And I was like, man, how
can we do this on a mass level? Because I'm
able to raise more money than a you know, Black
Men Heill can, So why not create a hub to
where we get the funding and distribute the funding to
the people that need it. And you know, that's that's
our mission statement. We want to provide you know, free therapy.

And you know, when you look at the the amount
of mental health care workers and clinical workers, I think
we only make up like three or four percent. So
it's like, I want to at least get that to
where it reflects the population of black people in America.
And the way we do that is through scholarships and
through paying for training for individuals. So I'm just trying
to use my platform and use my voice to to

do the right things. You know, I mean, I see,
I see who needs the funding. I see where the
funding is going. So if I'm able to raise more
capital and get it to those people, why not. You
have the a beautiful array of founding partners with the
Mental Wealth Alliance. What did it require in terms of
partnerships to get this group off the ground? Man, it

was an idea actually that my man um Tim Striver
actually hit me. And Tim Striver was like, man, you
should really think about opening up your own foundation. And
I was like why I was? You know, I'd rather
be out here supporting, you know, the boys Lawrence Nston Foundation,
you know Project three seventy five, you know that Brandon
Marshall's Foundation, and he was like, it gives you a

different since the purpose, you know, and you know people
may want to support what you're doing faster than you
know some of those those other organizations. And I'm like,
you know, why not everybody that's involved in just people
that I've met over the past four or five years
in my journey of healing. You know, people like my
my home girl, Debbie Brown. Debbie Brown, Me and Debbie

been cool for damnit seventeen years. So you know, I've
watched Debbie evolved to become this powerhouse in the mind
fulm this space, you know, working with Deep poc Choper
and everything else. So it was sisters like that who
helped me go out in and find a sense of
healing and find a sense of purpose. So now that
we're all in these great positions, why wouldn't I want

somebody like Deviie Brown involved on the board? Yeah? Can
you talk one more moment about this pillar of training
the treatment. It's the most obvious people need help, and
you're helping facilitate and provide places where they can get
that help. But what's the training about and why is
that such a central pillar in your mission. We need

people who are culturally competent. We need, you know, black
people to be these these mental health professionals, you know,
we need we need culturally sensitive mental health services period.
If we can encourage people to go into that space,
to go into that field, people that look like us,
that talk like us, that sounds like us, that come

from the same backgrounds as us, that's what we need.
There's a place in Armington, Michigan called Inception and it's
rand by my man David mccullor. David mccullor is a brother,
you know, from that area. When people go there and
they go to Inception and they do brain training, or
they do float therapy, or they do magnuts fear, it
immediately opens you up and makes you want to talk.

And David is a brother that they can talk to.
He's a brother, you know what I mean. He listened
to the same music we listen to and he talks
like us. But he's just really educated when it comes
to the mental health space. That's what makes you want
to open up even more because David understands things that
somebody who's not from the environments we come from. Wouldn't

understand when you got somebody who's from the hood and
understands that your black people were not inherently evil. We're
not trying to just be out here doing criminal stuff
because that's who we are. Like, it's a set of
socio economic conditions that caused some of us to move
a certain way. Sometimes that that can only come from
somebody who's culturally competent, and you don't have to spend

some time explaining yourself, your people, your history to their
theoretically to help you understand yourself. On October tenth, you've
got an expo coming up. That's a mental wealth expo.
I've heard of a wealth expo and how you can
get rich and do all these wonderful things with their finances.
I've never heard of a mental wealth expo. What can

people expect from this? Who's involved? How is it different
from the other types of expos that a lot of
us are familiar with. It's not different from other expos,
you know what I mean. It's a day of mental
health education and the day of healing. Like you always
hear people say things like, you know, where do I
start where do I start, you know, when it comes
to like going on a healing journey. So for me,

this is just like an entry point, you know. So
what I've done is I put together. Man. We got
so many different panels. Man. We gotta panel on Black
men's mental health, black women's mental health. We gotta spiritual
intelligence panel. You know. We got all these different breakout
rooms that are specifically for things like anxiety, PTSD, depression.
We got rooms for people who are you know, dealing

with family members who are bipoland skitz apriendic, because nobody
ever talks about those individuals and what and what having
somebody in your family with those kind of mental health
issues does to your mental health. And so I got man,
people that I just respect, like like deVie Brown, she'll
be doing her dropping Gym's podcast. They're live. Michelle Williams.

You know, she has a great podcast called checking In
when she really just checking in with people to see
how their mental health and emotional well being is going.
She's there, my man, Jay Barnett, Mr. Jason Wilson is
gonna be there. David McCullough, Dr Rita Walker, I got
Res Dominican, I got him in Angela Rye or be
in conversation with each other and so man, it's just
a day for us to love on each other from

eleven am to four pm. And it's free and open
to the public, you know what I mean. That was
very important to me to make sure that it was
free and open to the public, because to your point,
I not nobody for what they do. I just think
that some of this information, if we're really trying to
help people, if we're really trying to empower people, I

can't charge for it, you know what I mean. I
just I just simply can't do that. I don't not
nobody for what they do. You know, everybody's got an
area of expertise, get your money, do your thing. Me personally,
I'd rather stick up some of these corporate people and
get these sponsorships and let them pay for everything, you
know what I mean. All of these companies that say

they want to invest in black people and they want
to empower black people and they want to help black people, Okay,
will help us unpack some of our traumas, then, you know,
and sponsor this event. Yeah, that's what we're doing this Sunday,
and I can't wait. That's the Jesse Jackson method right there.
The corporate stick up if the truth though, and you know,

like we're gonna have, it's gonna be different booths there.
You know, people are gonna be able to come there
and get so much different information. Man and all. I'm
hoping that people leave there with the wherewithal on how
to start their healing journey. They at least nowhere to begin.
They know if they need to talk to us psychiatrists,
a therapist, a grief counselor whatever it is, they know

what to do on their healing journey. You might get
into meditation. You might get into yoga, because we got
all of that there, you know, so you might get
into crystals. We got a lot of different things. You
basically just described my mother as you rest in peace.
All yoga, meditation and crystals. That are three strong memories
I have of her during my childhood. I wish I
could actually be there, um, but I will definitely tell

everybody about it, and certainly this this show is going
to help tell everybody about it. We call this show
force Multiplier because we think that there are some things
you can do to have an outsize effect and outside impact.
If you're a bit of leverage. What would you say,
the force multiplier is enclosing the mental health gap in

the black community, some of those few things we could
do that have an outside the impact. That's a great,
great question, man. I think, honestly, just continuing to have
the conversation because when I put out my my second
book shook one anxiety playing tricks on me. I didn't
know it was gonna start so many different conversations. But
one of the conversations that it really sparked for me,

which gave me a whole new understanding of the person,
was the conversation that started with me and my father.
You know, one thing I realized about therapy was going
to therapy was like my father was a source to
a lot of my trauma. You know, my father was
a source to a lot of my insecurities, my lack

of self worth. He was a good father, but he
was more so disciplinary And the reason I ended up
having a lot more grace with him because I used
to go to therapy and be in tears, like he
used to punish me because I didn't know things he
didn't teach me. I always tell his one story in particular,

I remember I was fifteen, sixteen years I think was
six beause have my license, and so I'm driving behind him.
He told me to follow him. He runs the stop sign,
so I run the stop sign. He pulls over. I
pull over. He gets out the car. I wrote a
wind down. He smacks the ship out of me and
he's like, wake up, pay attention, and I'm like, I'm
following you. He's like, you didn't see that stop sign.

I'm like, did you see the stop time? I'm sixteen
years old. I just got my life. But that's how
it constantly was. I would always get disciplined, do as
I say, not as I do. Oh, I hated that.
I hated that line. I hated that line. But yes,
I ended up having a um better understanding of him

because he read my book and when he read Shook One.
I also had a cousin. He was twenty five. He
had tried to kill himself four different times. November was
the weakly things given. He finally completed suicide. And between
that and my dad reading my book, my dad's and
may you know I've been reading your book and you
know he's like, you know, you know what just happened

to your cousin? And he was like, man, he said,
I went to therapy two and three times a week,
you know, back in the day. And you know, I've
been on tend the twelve different medications throughout my life.
And I tried to kill myself thirty years ago. Only
reason I killed myself because of you and your sister.
And so when he said that, I just realized, like, yo,
Pops was just doing the best he could with with

with with with the resources he had at the time.
And I think we take that for granted. We don't realize, man,
we're probably the first generation of black people who have
the luxury of healing. The generation before us, our parents,
they were scratching and surviving like good times, you know
what I mean, Like like they were just trying to
make it. You know, they were too busy working keeping

the roof of our head to have to deal with
their mental and emotional issues. And then I remember even
having conversations with my mom. I used to think my
mom was so cool because she would be in her
room listening to the Lord Hill X Factor over and over.
I to be like, damn, mama's mama's hip, you know
what I mean. Come to find out that's when my
mom and dad were going through a divorce and she

was sad and she was going to therapy at the time.
None of them told me that until I was a
late thirties, almost forty year old person. So imagine if
they would have told me all of that much much earlier,
I would have understood where my anxiety stems from. I
would understood when my PTSD, you know, stem from. I

would have understood what my depression stem from. If I
had the language for what they were going through. If
I even knew they was going through these things back
in the day, when these things started impacting me, I
would have known how to deal with him a lot better. So,
you know, to you answer your question, we just got
to continue to have these conversations, man, because these conversations
sparked more conversations, and we can finally get to the

root of why we are the way we are. There's
so many of us and of all people who think
of freedom in terms of external factors physical freedom, uh,
maybe financial freedom, but the freedom to kind of be
at peace and the freedom to to look at your

internal self and really know yourself is a real high
level of freedom. And I like the way you talk
about our generation's opportunity, you know, versus the ones that
came before. We have you called the luxury. I think
of it as freedom in a different way, but very similar.
So thanks for opening up and sharing that we are.
We're coming up on time, but I want to get

a few more things than one. Is what advice would
you share with somebody listening to this who wants to
get involved, wants to help support around mental health, black
mental wealth in their own local community. Where would you
point them? How can they get started? I would, you know,
go to the Mental Wealth Alliance dot com because we
fully have a directory up there of you know, different people,

different organizations in different locations that you could, you know,
be a part of. Do your Google's man, go Google
Google local mental health organizations wherever you're from. You know
what I mean I'm talking about in your town, put
your town naming and google mental you know health organizations
and and I can't think of too many cities who
don't have, you know, a black mental health organization. They

may not be getting the funding they need, they may
not be getting the attention they need, but they exist.
So you know, reach out to these people, man, and
you know, find out how you can help them continue
to grow, and you know, just shine a spotlight on them,
whether it's just with a tweet, whether it's with an
Instagram post, whatever it is. You know, So I would
just tell people, man, do your Google's. I guarantee you

there's an organization in your city that is helping black
people be more mentally healthy. But you just got to
search them out. When I was a kid, they say,
go to the library. Today, Charlotte many says, do your Googles.
Do your Googles for somebody who is who's working in
the corporate world. Maybe maybe they run the company, Probably

they don't. Most people in the corporal don't own the company.
But what can they do to lend their support or
the support of their companies. They need to let their
companies know the importance of investing in their employees mental health.
You know, if you want the best out of somebody, man,
you got to make sure that that person is there mentally,

that that person is there emotionally, that that person is
there spiritually. Spiritually really may not be what corporations are
there for, but mentally and emotionally, man, you've got to
create these environments to where the people who work for
these corporations can thrive, you know, And I think that
it's a I think everybody should be pushing for mental
health days, work life balanced days. You can't just be

working people to death. Like you can't just have a
person on a job for you hours a week, however
many weeks a year and you're not giving them no breaks.
You know, check in with your employees. That goes a
long way to just reaching out to one of your
employees and say, Yo, how are you? When I ask
people how are you nowadays? I really truly mean it
because I want to know, and sometimes you're being an

employee hearing that from your employer are simple how are you?
That puts the battery in your back, makes you feel
good about working for said company, you know, makes you
feel like this company is seeing you outside of something
other than being just a number that we can get
called to be fired. I just think, man, it goes
back to what I said earlier about you just really
doing unto others as you would have them doing to you.

We hear so much about toxic work environments. A lot
of these work environments are toxic because these corporations don't
look at these people as anything but workers. They're humans.
They have the same feelings you have, they have the
same emotions you have. They probably have the same breaking
points that you have. So you know, make sure you're

not scratching people too thin. Make sure that when you
are scratching them, you're scratching them because it's an opportunity
for them to grow and and staying in touch with
their own humanity and the process too. I think a
lot of us are able to to dehumanize others because
we've in some way detached ourselves from our own humanity.
That's right. Is there anything else you wanted to add?

Given everything we've been talking about, man, I just want
people to come out to the Mental wealf ex Bol
this Sunday tent tent from eleven am to four pm,
and to marry out Marquee tom Square in New York
City is free and open to the public, and it's
the day of healing and education. And I really want
people to tune into my my late night show, The
Gods on His Truth every Friday night at ten pm

on Comedy Central. You know, I'm really getting an opportunity
to talk about a lot of things that you know,
matter to me. You know, first episode we talked about
the de gratification of America and how the de notification
in Germany that model could really be applied here in
a real way in regard to white supremacy and racism
and Big Tree. And you know, second episode we talked
about Jack Gohover and the FBI, and you know, asking

the questions like, how can we ever expect these institutions
that were founded before black people had civil rights and
women had civil rights? How can these institutions that would
show up for us? And the last episode we discussed
critical race theory, which I called critical racist theory because
we know this is just the latest example of them
trying to keep black people dumb, deaf, and blind because

that Turner, a brother like Nat Turner, showed America the
power of an educated Negro and from that point on,
that's when they, especially in the South, they got rid
of slaves being able to read and slaves being able
to write. So like, don't think that you know this
whole keep critical race theory out of schools and keep
the sixteen nineteen project out of schools. That's systemic, and

it's been systemic for a long time. And you know
this this week we're talking about mental health and more
so about healing. So just you know, just tune in. Man.
I'm just I'm really getting the opportunity to talk about
things that I really care about. So, like I say,
the evolution will be televised, evolution of Charlemagne, but Nord

mcklby will be televised. Well, Charlemagne, thank you for your care,
your love, the use of your power and energy toward healing,
not just for yourself, before all of us. It's been
such a pleasure getting this time with your brother. Thank you,
Thank you, Barn. They appreciate you. King. You're listening to

a podcast called Force Multiplier, Action meets Impact. Now you've
probably grown to expect ads inside your podcast, but we're
gonna do something a little bit different to walk the walk.
We're gonna take a quick break and hear from one
of the organizations featured in this episode. Be right back.
Fifteen months and counting into the COVID nineteen pandemic, the

world faces a difficult for reality, an unprecedented education crisis.
More than half of all students worldwide have been affected
by school closures, putting their learning and development at risk,
denying them contact with their peers and trained caring teachers,
making them miss out on essential healthcare, nutrition and protection services,

and affecting their mental health and well being. A recent
Units of survey across seventy seven countries found the children
and adolescents are reporting dramatic increases in stress, anxiety, irritability,
and substance abuse. The longer children are out of school,
the worst the mental health impacts, impacts that make them

vulnerable to abuse and exploitation, impacts that can last a lifetime,
especially for those children who are already disadvantaged by poverty
or children with different abilities. While COVID nineteen has closed schools,
it has also decimated support services like mental health services

and school counseling, leaving millions of children and their families
without this critical support when they need it most. As
countries prepare to reopen schools, UNISV believes that this is
also a moment to strengthen mental health support across education systems,

which is why we have joined the World Bank and
UNESCO to launch our Joint Mission to Recover Education. UNASF
sees this as a critical moment to reimagine education and
mental health systems in the years ahead to help the
world's youngest generation through and beyond what has been a

devastating moment for them. As a global community, let us
rally around their needs and let us make sure that
they returned to schools where they can get their learning
and the mental health back on track. Hey you, it's
Baritone Day, host of the podcast you're listening to right now.

When I was a kid, my mom told me to
come up with a system we could live under after
democracy had failed. Yeah, my mom was intent. I haven't
finished that assignment, but I did make a podcast. It's
called How does Citizen? With Baritune Day. It reimagines citizen
as a verb and reminds us how to wield our
collective power. Find seasons one and two and whatever podcasts

app you're using right now, and season three, all about tech,
drops in October. Learn more at how does Citizen dot com.
You know, I've worked for most of my working life
on what I would call the human rights of children
all over the world, and that work has really accompanied
my own kind of recovery from a tough background children's homes, poverty,

homeless nurse the threat of crime as a child, And
so for me, I have a real sense of urgency
about this. You know, I truly believe that if we
could invest in strengthening parenting and helping parents who are
affected by intergenerational transmission of trauma, if we can disrupt

that cycle of transmission, then we can imagine a world
where abuse and neglect is a thing in the past.
So if we took a simple parenting program, if we
invested saying in every new parent having four or five,
maybe six home visits in the first year of life
to work on attachment between a parent and a child,

to teach the basics, and to help them with coping skills.
If we did that across populations, and then we gave
boosters a key moments during charge food, very simple intervention
similar in scope of vaccine coverage through health systems or
other systems, I think you would see a huge decline

in abuse and neglect, adverse childhood experiences, and you would
see the generational decrease in things like addiction, violence, and
noncommunicable diseases. I think the world is waking up to
the fact that abuse and neglect is preventable. So that
could be the legacy of our generation is to leave

this for future generations. Just in the same way that
people who came before us left things like clean water
and vaccines and sanitation and so on. So I think
we have an opportunity and a responsibility and we can
really make a massive difference in the world on this agenda. Now.
Ashead of campaigns and advocacy at the Inanimation as Children's Fun,

Benjamin Perks has seen firsthand how abuse, neglect, and adverse
childhood experiences are the primary causes of mental illness. He
shares their back strengthening parenting and helping those affected that
intergenerational transmission a drauma. We can disrupt that cycle and
imagine the world where abused and neglect is a thing
of the past. So abused and neglect, adverse child and

experiences are perhaps the principal preventible cause of mental illness
and many other connected poor life outcomes obesity, addiction, community
and those type of things. It's really important to ensure
that children and young people are able to flourish emotionally

and mentally. We know that when children are born their
biologically programmed to seek the connection with the parents or
a kere giver, and when that is absent, the child
sees it as a threat, and that has a direct
impact on their emotional development, their cognitive development at the

moment when most vulnerable. I think over the past two
to three decades, we've had this proliferation of evidence and
research at the intersection of psychology, neuroscience, sociology, biology, pedagogy,
and it tells us a couple of really important things. Firstly,

it tells us that the prevalence of abuse and neglect
and dysfunctional parenting is much more prevalent than we ever
thought it was before. Across countries, between five and six
out of ten of any given population have had at
least one form of adverse to other experience, and between

ten and tw have had four or more. And when
we look at adults that have had four or more
adverse to other experiences, we see that they do much
worse throughout the course of life in terms of mental
and physical health, in terms of learning and job outcomes,
and also in terms of things like noncommunicable diseases, obesity, addiction,

those kind of issues. So when researchers saw this, they
realized it was a major social problem that was much
bigger than we ever thought it was before. So they
then began to work with neuroscientists and others to try
and determine what explains this link between adverse childhood experiences

and poor life outcomes, and they came up with the
concept of toxic stress. We all have stress right before
an interview. You can have stress. When you lose your
wallet on the way to work, you can have stress.
It's something that affects all of us. You know what
happens to your body. You become tense, Adrenaline pumps through

your body, and then when you find the wallet, your
body comes down again. What happens with toxic stress. This
is not the conditions in place to allow that calming
down of the body. The threat is not something you
can hide from or move away from, because the threat
is at home. And for children, it's not just a
threat to have the presence of violence. It's also a

threat to have the absence of love. So children who
are neglected have an activation or chronic activation of the
stress response system. And these derails almost every single aspect
of their fragile and fledgling development, including their cognitive and
emotional development, but also their physical development. And I think

the point is this is a theme that is to
Boo and people don't necessarily talk about, but it's something
that's very much experienced by everybody on some level. If
people have not had adverse to other experiences themselves, they
love somebody who has, or they leave next door to
somebody who's still struggling with that. So this is very

much a human store eat. So what we're trying to
do with all of this is bring these very complex
issues to the level of human understanding and to the
conversation to make them policy relevant, because the good news
is that we can actually end adverse to other experiences,
we can end abuse and neglect in the world and
reap huge benefits for society. UNISEF as a flagship report

that we launch across the hundred ninety country offices that
we have around the world in partnership with regional bodies
like the EU World Health Organization, at the global level
African Union, and it's the State of the World's Children Report,
and this year, for the first time in our history,
it's about mental health. One in seven adolescents is estimated

to have what we call a mental health condition, that's
ad lessons between the age of ten and ninety. Suicide
is the fifth most prevalent cause of death adolescence after
road injury, tuberculosis into personal violence. It's one of the
leading causes of death for children of adolescence and according

to some research that will be sharing when we launch
the States of the World Children next week. The fifto
year olds in twenty one countries self reported often feeling
depressed or having little interest in doing things, and we
think these are feelings that have been amplified by the

COVID nineteen situation. COVID nineteen has certainly deepened inequalities on
all aspects of child well being, including mental health. We
know that school relationship with teachers, access to peer groups
is a really important and very simple, straightforward protective factor

for good mental health. We know that has affected children
in situations of poverty and exclusion much greater than other
sections of society. So we've been calling very passionately for
schools to be reopened as soon as possible, and that's
for three reasons. The first one is the learning gap

is particularly hard to catch up for children in poverty,
children affected by adverse child and experiences. Children whether in
society is whether a racial, gender, or disability or other disparities. Secondly,
we know that for children living in poverty, Things like school,
nutrition and other services that come through school are really essential.

And thirdly, we know the children that are a risk
of violence and neglect or harmful practices such as early marriage, trafficking,
and so on, are much more likely to be at
risk when they can't attend school to our protection services
are much less likely to be able to access them,
and children who are living with abusive or neglectful parents

have been locked up with those parents for quite a while.
The mental health and the overall well being of children
now returning to school is crucial, and that needs to
be put at the heart of all the planning for
that return. But it's also a moment for us to
reimagine education. How can education systems end the inequalities that

existed before the pandemic, the ones that have been worsened
by the pandemic. How can we use this kind of
global pause to really reimagine an education system where every
child is connected, where every child has means of digital learning,
and schools in which children can flourish and are not

affected by learning poverty, and when they're able to build
up the skill set to be able to have meaningful
citizenship and to have awarding life of work when they leave.
One of the challenges when you talk about mental health
is the taboo and the confusion about the issue, the

stigma and shame and what we've said with the state
of the world's children and the On my Mind campaign
is that we all have mental health at any given time.
We all sit on a spectrum of mental health and
in one should be okay to talk about it without shame.

It's something that we all need to understand much more about,
and it's something where we should be able to turn
our attention away from judgment and towards solutions and how
do we build our societies and our families and communities
in ways that people can have good mental health and flourish.
So the idea of On my Mind as a campaign

is that we need to build to talk about what's
on our mind. We need to be heard and to hear,
to have the language to communicate about it. But we
also need to recognize that this single biggest protective factor
any person's mental health is to know that they are
held in the mind and in the heart of another person,

that their life is cherished, that they are valued, and
then it matter as an individual and if we can
ensure that every child on the planet has this message
and has this understanding of self, and if we can
make sure that every society is able to ensure that
every child is valued and every family member is able

to talk about mental health, then this is going to
be a real game changer in the whole area of
well being. I think there's three really important relationships I'm
just going to highlight. The first one is pair parents.
Parents have got to be able to keep the lines
of communication open with understanding and empathy as children go

through the very complex process of brain transformation that happens
in adolescents, and parents need to be able to communicate
with kids. Would also be supported to have the knowledge
about what's going on, what's going on in terms of
brain development, and what can you do to ensure a
child is protected, avoids risk, dangerous risk, and flourishes. The

second one is teachers and other community leaders, whether they
be health workers, please or other people that they interact
with young people. They need to make sure that young
people are seen and safe and sooth, but also understood
and listen to. So one of the things we're talking
about in schools is that, for example, is a teacher

needs to look at a class of fourteen year olds
and recognize that a good proportion of those kids are
going to be coming from difficult backgrounds, difficult home situations,
and they are particularly at risk. But you never necessarily
know who they are, So you need to provide supportive
environment for all the children in the class, and to

make sure that environment is psychologically safe and that the
teachers emotionally and tuned and it's trauma informed. So we
need to mainstream that in the way that teachers think
about teaching, the way that schools think about school policy.
And I think that kids don't learn if they don't

feel connected to a teacher. The third important relationship is peers,
because adolescents care much more about peer relationships than anything else.
That's a normal part of adolescents. So we need to
create healthy environments in which strong peer bonds can flourish,

where risk behaviors such a is isolating kids from groups,
and all of that is prevented and minimized, and children,
to add lessons, have a space to grow and flourish safely.
When you think about technology, what's really important is the
other things in the kid's life. Technology is often a

reflection of the other vulnerabilities the child has. That said,
we also think that the social media platforms must ensure
that safeguarding measures are in place to prevent things like
bullying online pr isolation, which is a form of bullying.
All of these things really need to be governed properly

by the social media organizations. I think that that's really important.
I think we have to also remember that the proliferation
of social media and other technology took place so quickly
that society didn't really adapt to keep up with it,
and a lot of the vulnerability comes from that. So
we need to have a very clear understanding of where

responsibility sits. I go to many countries and a big
question that people ask is about who's responsible for our
children's safety online? And often parents think it's teachers, teachers
think his parents. We need to have stronger collaboration between parents, teachers,
and others to protect our kids. We work with such

a wide set of partners. We work very closely with
World Health Organization who like us sorry the U n
Body so for example, together but What Health Organization UNITSEF
will be launching a Call to action on Global Parenting
support in November. We worked very closely with some private

sector companies that are really interested in children. So we
worked with Lego and Sesame Street, for example. These are
very big partners important partnerships for us. But this is
really in some ways very early on in a mental
health journey for us, and we're hoping to expand those partnerships.
So we hope to work even more closely with the

wider range of private sector partners and to expand the
networks of governments and academics coming together really around these
very sharp focused calls to action, around parenting, investments in
mental health, changing the conversation on mental health to really
bring focus, because the problem that's happened in previous decades

is a whole agender on mental health has been very fragmented.
So we're trying to bring a range of partners together
around that sharp focus and often people say this is
just impossible, but you know, people said exactly the same
thing about vaccines forty and fifty years ago. In two
only t of the world's children under five were vaccinated

against the major five Charter diseases. Those is easis were preventable,
and when the world put its mind to it and
massively increase the policy priority of vaccines. Within a decade,
it increased dramatically reducing child mortality. What was a game

changer there was to have a very sharp focus that
every child would have vaccines and one or two other
very simple health interventions, and that became a galvanizing force
for transforming all aspects of child health. As a result
of that investment, public health system strengthened, rural services for

children strengthened. But it was that very sharp focus. I
think when we talk about things like mental health and
adverse childe experiences, which we have targets on for the
sustainable development goals, it's hard to see progress for those
targets unless we have a sharp focus on three or

four or key caused to action, which you bring the
full weight of the U N. Private sector, partner, governments,
and civil society behind to really drive the agenda forward.
We also have a word like force multiplier. We use
the word accelerator. So when we say accelerator, we mean

the thing that will massively speed up the campaign but
also is likely to achieve the highest number of results
and impacts for a very focused intervention. So for us,
the four force multiplayers are the governments need to invest.
They dramatically under invest. Mental health is thirty percent of

the non fatal disease burden, but represents less than one
percent of many governments overall health expenditure. In the content
and of Africa, there is one mental health professional per
hundred thousand population, so there needs to be a massive
increase in spending. Second force multiplier for us is parenting.
If we can get very minimum package of support to

help parents learn some of the basics where needed, and
also become more self aware as parents, that can transform
the situation of children, prevent abuse and neglect. Certainly, schools
where every chance is connected, has a sense of belonging
and can access help enforcefully a transformed conversation. These are

our four main force multipliers and mental health. I say
to people who you know what you want your legacy
to be? You know, do you want to contribute to results?
Do you want to transform something? And if you do,
you really need to focus on that. It's so easy
in our careers to get locked up in process in bureaucracy.

I advise people if they can, to cut out the
noise and to go direct leave for that thing that
will be a force multiplayer. I think the second thing
is do what you love. When I work on recruitment,
if the person is really passionate about the issue, you
know they're going to perform. And thirdly, be flexible, you know,

to have the ability to completely change career, to innovate
and try new skill sets, because that's what keeps you
young and fresh and engaged. In two thousand and two,
we had this huge campaign in Afghanistan to try and
get millions of kids back into school. We say back,
but it was mainly for the first time for most
of them. You know. We brought in millions of tents

and school books and then often they had to be
delivered to remote villages through donkeys and camel trains. It
was an incredible, exhausting engagement. The first day of that
new school. Yeah, to look out of your window and
to see kids going to school for the first time
in their life was amazing. So I'm going to then

fast forward fifteen years later when I get a call
from somebody at Oxford and they told me they were
sitting next to somebody on their program and they told
me about their life journey and how, you know, how
they've learned in a tent and ended up in Oxford.

That's the real reward of the job, you know, is
knowing that this is really transforming lives. And I think
that if things sometimes seem to go backwards, you know,
in terms of children's rights, often it's a momentary thing,
the thing that you've invested, I believe it stays and
it remains. I hope that UNI Sev's legacy, wherever it is,

never ends, because if you invest in children, that continues
to come back in return, generation after generation. There's so
much unacknowledged hurt in the world. We see it in

children around the world through organizations like UNI SEF and
what Benjamin is working on. We see it in many
American communities, but especially the Black community, these trauma that
we have not been shown a way to acknowledge or
talk about. But there are weights, and there are people
like Benjamin and people like Charlemagne, the network of folks
that they work with who are helping us see that

a love child shows up to school ready to learn
and to love. As Benjamin shared, that a healed person
can show up with more graceful another person and be
a part of their healing the way Charlemagne said undoing
that trope that is too true that hurt people hurt people.
So we've got so many places to start around the

world and in our neighborhoods. Please find a resource for
you near you, and contribute to one for somebody else.
We do this better when we do it together. Thanks
for tuning in, Thanks for listening to another great conversation
how we can multiply our force. Do you want to

dig in more on today's guests and the work they're doing,
or maybe you want to understand what action you can
take in your community. Either way, go to salesforce dot
org slash force multiplier. That's one word, force multiplier. Force
Multiplier is a production of I Heart Radio and Salesforce
dot Org hosted by me Barritton Day Thurston. It's executive

produced by Elizabeth Stewart, produced by Von Chien, and engineered,
edited and mixed by James Foster. Join us next time
for more stories of how we can change the world,
one relationship at a time. Listen to Force Multiplier on
the I Heart Radio app, Apple podcast, or wherever you
get your podcast. M HM
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