Authority Magazine
Published in

Authority Magazine

Mental Health Champions: Why & How Kyle Ross of Intero Psychedelic Therapy Is Helping To Champion Mental Wellness

An Interview With Michelle Tennant Nicholson

As a part of our series about Mental Health Champions helping to promote mental wellness, I had the pleasure to interview Kyle Ross.

Kyle Ross is a passionate psychotherapist, educator, and advocate for mental health. He has been part of Intero Psychedelic Therapy as a Senior Director since its founding. He has focused his career on bringing innovative and creative ways to increase access to mental health, especially for those who struggle with complex mental health issues. Over the past five years he has focused his clinical practice Psychedelic Assisted Psychotherapy.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit. Can you tell us a bit about how you grew up?

I grew up in a small town an hour south of the Twin Cities in MN with my parents and one older and younger brother. I was always very interested in education and learning and initially went to college to become a high school history teacher because I was inspired by a remarkable history teacher Ben Danielson. I was part of a youth center in Northfield MN that encouraged my interest in music, which continues to be a passion of mine to this day.

You are currently leading an initiative that is helping to promote mental wellness. Can you tell us a bit more specifically about what you are trying to address?

My passion for working with and advocating for the use of psychedelics within therapy is due to the mounting evidence and research showing significant promise with individuals suffering from issues like PTSD and treatment resistant depression. Utilizing other treatment options such as psychedelics allows for healing that traditional talk therapy and medication management may not provide. I am passionate about the many ways the mental health system can widen its lens so that we include as many options for those struggling with health issues as possible.

Can you tell us the backstory about what inspired you to originally feel passionate about this cause?

I have always had an interest in learning about psychedelics as a treatment option, and initially learned about psychedelics use through reading. As I was in graduate school to become a therapist, I learned about the work being done at MAPS, NYU, and John’s Hopkins and began to follow psychedelic research more closely. With Ketamine being a legal psychedelic treatment option my passion for this cause only grew. The more work I get to do as a psychedelic therapist the more my passion grows because I get to experience first-hand when individuals find new and creative ways to manage their mental health. I am continuously inspired by witnessing the growth and healing that clients can experience when other treatment models have not produced the results they are seeking.

Many of us have ideas, dreams, and passions, but never manifest them. They don’t get up and just do it. But you did. Was there an “Aha Moment” that made you decide that you were actually going to step up and do it? What was that final trigger?

I am a person that strives to see measurable results and I have the wonderful benefit in getting to work with other amazing professionals within the Ellie Mental Health system. This team also shares a passion for finding creative ways to help others. I am grateful that I get to work with medical providers, therapists, and operations colleagues that all assisted in creating Intero Psychedelic Therapy as a Ketamine Assisted Psychotherapy clinic. The final “trigger” was recognizing that there was a need within the community for new ways to treat mental health issues and having the supportive environment to create Intero Psychedelic Therapy as an imprint brand within Ellie Mental Health.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company or organization?

It’s a hard question to answer because there are so many wonderful stories and interactions since beginning this work. What comes to mind is reflecting on an early staff meeting and later that night recognizing the most amazing part is the wonderful people/professionals that come together to create something larger. I believe each person has unique and wonderful skill sets, and it is my role to help foster a workplace that allows other professionals to do what they are most passionate about. Interest in psychedelics is making a resurgence in the US and as an organization we are continuously learning and focusing on doing this work to the highest ethical standards.

None of us can be successful without some help along the way. Did you have mentors or cheerleaders who helped you to succeed? Can you tell us a story about their influence?

I could not agree more that we all need help along the way! I am fortunate to have had several mentors throughout my career. During graduate school and to this day I have had two clinical mentors Deb Stack and Ruth Katz who have endlessly supported me. Each of them were mentors while I was learning to do therapy and I have continue to have wonderful friendships with them both. I have always said I would not be where I am clinically today without each of them. Additionally, the support I have had from Ellie Mental Health cannot be understated. Since joining this growing agency, I have been afforded many avenues to pursue my passions and that has led to the creation of Intero Psychedelic Therapy.

According to Mental Health America’s report, over 44 million Americans have a mental health condition. Yet there’s still a stigma about mental illness. Can you share a few reasons you think this is so?

I believe there are many reasons there continues to be stigma attached to mental health. The ones that come to mind most readily are the importance our culture places on the individual in our society. I was trained as an Adlerian therapist and much of that training focuses on our need as people for feeling safe, having a sense of security, and ultimately needing belonging. We need others in our life and at times there is a sense of needing others means we are unable or are weak if we need help. Some of the most encouraging things I have seen as a therapist is seeing more and more children and families seeking professional help, gives me great hope for a new generation.

In your experience, what should a) individuals b) society, and c) the government do to better support people suffering from mental illness?

As individuals, I believe that we need to seek out professional help earlier in the treatment of mental illness and can help those in our circle be more open to professional help. The sooner mental illness is diagnosed and treated the better the outcomes are. Family can be defined in many ways, and often those closest to us notice symptoms and issues first. As a society, I believe that the more we know and understand about mental illness the less we with stigmatize and judge it. In my work with individuals suffering from severe and persistent mental illness, unfortunately, one of my largest takeaways is the degree to which individual are isolated. As a society I believe we could collectively offer more compassion and understanding to those struggling with mental illness and not see it as something they are choosing or interpret it as an issue with their character. For government, often mental health is spoken about in terms of needing more funding, which is true in many areas. MN has many wonderful programs such as ARMHS and CTSS that assist those most in need, so expanding those programs would be a great start. Investing in access to mental health is one of the single greatest uses of resources as a society we can do. Not just investing in treatment of mental illness but also investing in mental health and wellness initiatives for children and families.

What are your 5 strategies you use to promote your own well-being and mental wellness? Can you please give a story or example for each?

Music: I listen to music throughout the day every day. For me it is a source of calmness and listening to other people’s creativity is inspiring to me on many levels. Music can transcend words and convey complex feelings in artistic ways.

Podcasts: I listen to many different podcasts on a variety of subjects. Often when I am working on tasks or cleaning my house, I listen to podcasts on subjects I do not know much about like history, and true crime. I enjoy the act of learning things I would otherwise not be exposed to, and often get ideas on things to listen from the clients I see. When they talk about their life passions, I am curious and want to learn more and podcasts are a great way to do that.

Reading: I spent a lot of time reading as kid and throughout high school/college. Reading things like philosophy or history promotes wellness for me because of the learning aspect. Deep diving into a subject is a wonderful way to get out of our own thought processes and be exposed to a new way of viewing life or learning about something someone else has a passion for.

Playing Guitar: I greatly enjoy listening to music, I also enjoy playing guitar and engaging in something that is purely creative from myself. My playing waxes and wanes but playing guitar has always been a source of peace for me and helps clear my mind.

Time with Friends/Family: While I am naturally and introvert making dedicated time for friends and family that support is crucial for wellness. Being around those who support us the most and accept us for who we are helps bring a sense of people. I have a wonderful wife Heidi who is extroverted and pushes me to develop a larger community network of colleagues, family and friends.

What are your favorite books, podcasts, or resources that inspire you to be a mental health champion?

I have many favorite books and podcasts for different areas of my life, but for mental health my favorite book is Understanding Human Nature by Alfred Adler. As mentioned, before I am an Adlerian trained therapist and one of the reasons, I enjoy Adler’s work is its practical use for everyday people. Adler has a wonderful way of taking complex ideas and breaking them down into usable understandings.

I experienced a significant loss in my life over the past year and found the podcast Healing by David Kessler and would recommend it to many people. The podcast is a wonderful exploration through what loss can mean for different people and is not just for someone dealing with a loss. We all experiences loss in our lives and learning ways to cope is crucial for our mental wellbeing.

If you could tell other people one thing about why they should consider making a positive impact on our environment or society, like you, what would you tell them?

As corny as it may sound one of the people I look up to as a person is Mr. Rogers. Like many in my generation as a late millennial, I grew up watching Mr. Rogers Neighborhood. As an adult I have gone back and watched his episodes as well as the wonderful documentary and movie with Tom Hanks with a different view. Mr. Rogers once stated that there are three ways to achieve ultimate success, and they to be kind, be kind, and be kind. When we greet our life situations with acceptance, compassion, and kindness, life for everyone is much easier. It allows us and others around us to be who we truly are and share the unique talents each of us has with the world.

How can our readers follow you online?

You can find/follow Intero Psychedelic Therapy on our Facebook page

Learn more about Intero Psychedelic Therapy on our website at www.intero-psychedelic.com

You can find/follow Ellie Mental Health on our Facebook page

This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!

About the Interviewer: Inspired by the father of PR, Edward Bernays (who was also Sigmund Freud’s nephew), Michelle Tennant Nicholson researches marketing, mental injury, and what it takes for optimal human development. An award-winning writer and publicist, she’s seen PR transition from typewriters to Twitter. Michelle co-founded WasabiPublicity.com.

--

--

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store