“Healing Through Mainstream and Alternative Means” is the fifty-fourth episode of The College Handoff. The episode features Julie Cope, a BYU alumna and nurse practitioner who founded BetterThink, focused on client-centered medication management for mental and behavioral health conditions.
Julie’s inspiration for BetterThink originated with the COVID-19 pandemic. “The pandemic has been so rough for so many people, particularly for mental health. The lockdowns and isolation were a gift in slowing the spread so that we could get vaccines and other medications and other public health interventions on board to prevent a lot more loss of life. Still, it created so many mental health struggles for people,” she explains. “We need our community. We need people. We need to be connected, whatever that looks like, so social isolation has been difficult for people. We’ve had so many people with increased use of substances, increased use of opiates, alcohol, anxiety, depression, increased suicides, etc. We’ve had a lot worse mental health outcomes. At the same time, many of our mental health providers and other medical providers have just been burnt out. The ones who are left are just stressed and overwhelmed from caring for a lot more sick people. So I created BetterThink to offer direct access to people to get that medication and mental health support that they need.”
Despite the fact that the relief and aid medication can bring to those suffering from mental health conditions, medication is highly stigmatized. One of Julie’s missions is to break down this stigma. “I’m just going to start by looking to kind of break that stigma with some self-disclosure: I am currently on medication for depression and anxiety. I take medication for sleep. I’ve had a prior diagnosis of bipolar disorder. I don’t currently fit those criteria, but I was hospitalized in inpatient psych in my late teens and early twenties. So I just want to start by looking at that stigma there and helping to break the stigma of mental illness,” she expresses. “And then, for folks who think that medication might be an option for them, we have this amazing tool called GeneSight Genetic Testing. And you know, some meds work, some meds don’t for some people. Some patients I’ve given a hefty dose of medicine that you would think I could have killed a horse, but it didn’t really touch them. Part of that is how we metabolize these medicines to our liver. So everyone inherits different enzymes that metabolize the medicines through their liver and the reason why we all process meds differently is because we all inherited different enzymes. Before we had this genetic testing, it was just kind of like throwing darts and hoping it hits the target. Now with genetic testing that is covered by insurance, we can figure out exactly how a person is going to metabolize and process each medicine, and it’s a really good guide to help us know which one is going to have the best chance of helping them.”
One of the most unique qualities of BetterThink is the emphasis on patient-led treatment as Julie believes patients know their mental health the best. “For me, this philosophy developed out of my experiences serving the Native American community. So this community has a history of white people, either well-intentioned or not well-intentioned, coming in and dictating things, changing things, taking away things, mandating things, which had some bad consequences for this population. So I found that the first few months I started working there, I wanted to tell people what to do, and I felt upset if they didn’t do what I said. But then I had this really beautiful experience where I went to a pow wow, and I saw these people just dressed in their regalia, which is this beautiful ceremonial clothing that’s usually handmade, doing their dances, being present with their family, and I saw these beautiful, powerful warriors. I realized that I need to be a guide and an assistant and support their sovereignty and support their ability to make their own choices and to direct their own health,” Julie says. “So at that point, I realized that just getting information, sharing, listening, being open, and being a guide is what everyone needs. Nobody wants to go to a clinician and have them dictate ‘if you don’t do this, then blah, blah, blah’ or ‘if you don’t stop eating, that you’re going to have a heart attack.’ Nobody wants that. Fear-mongering strategies don’t work. Everyone responds better if they feel heard and understood and like it’s really their choice. I’m not the one who has to live with medication side effects. I’m not the one who’s living that. I think that everyone needs to have the opportunity to get more in tune with their intuition to feel what really is best for them.”
In addition to Julie’s interview, episode fifty-four features an interview with Andrea Withers, an EFT practitioner who discusses alternative methods for physical and emotional healing. If you’re interested in listening to Andrea’s interview as well as gaining more insights into Julie’s holistic approach to mental health treatment and perspective on the Healer’s art, go to https://thecollegehandoff.podbean.com/e/healing-through-mainstream-and-alternative-means/