I spoke to Jackson about the many conversations she had with lawmakers and staff members who had been – and is going to live again – infamous and terrifying events. If one thing stands out, it’s mental health the stigma still exists across the country and everyone needs to know that help can be sought when they need it – especially those who were there on January 6.
W + G: From your report, what story about the Capitol riot stick with you?
Hallie Jackson: There are many stories since January 6 that I have heard in my career and then in my personal life. Some stories are well known. For example, some of the things we heard in impeachment court – stories about the lawmakers lack the trendists as they burst into the building, and stories about Capitol Police officers who are doing their best to contain this rioting mob. Images are the thing that attaches most to you.
What are some mental health problems that Capitol staff are reporting to you as a result of that day?
One thing we continued to hear again and again along the way report this series on mental health impairment It wasn’t just January 6th. It’s been reminiscent of many people on television, because there’s an impeachment trial, there are news stories … every time one of the rebels is caught, there are clips again. revolt again. And so people go through an initial trauma on January 6, then they talk about how they feel when they’re going through it, they’re reliving it over and over again, even 100 days later.
I interviewed a lot of members of Congress, but I never interviewed a member of Congress to sit with his therapist. That’s what happened, however, as Congressman And Kildee (District 5 D-MI) from Michigan extended us on the post-traumatic stress he experienced after January 6th. I spoke with his therapist. James Gordon, MDWho is the author of the book named Injury transformation and run Body-Center Medicine Center here in Washington, and he says that Congressman is experiencing symptoms of prolonged combat or flight, basically, and something called vigilance. These were things that would have disappeared, but for Congressman Kildee, they did not. According to his account, he experienced symptoms, such as extreme discomfort, chest pain, nervousness and a lot of stress. He was not himself, and he reached out to Dr. Gordon and started having therapy sessions every Saturday.
I spoke to another woman in my report who works for a member of Congress in one of the office buildings on the Capitol complex. She was in her office [January 6]And she was scared about what would happen so she texted her friend what she was wearing in case she needed to identify her and where her car was parked in case someone needed to pick it up. . That’s how she’s scared. And she told me that even now, sometimes she would start crying without knowing why, and then she realized it was because she was reliving those moments from January 6th. many times. She’s also having repetitive nightmares – she talked about how she would wake up panting from these nightmares and she had never experienced it before. Therefore, she contacted the advisers provided by the Office of Staff Assistance of Congress on both the House and Senate sides.
In our report, we see a surge in demand for those mental health resources. There are already over 11,500 mentors or trainers in mental health and we find that on the House side, for example, they are at a busy pace 200% this year compared to a regular year. This includes counseling sessions, training and counseling. And that is largely due to January 6th. They actually bring in almost double the number of consulting staff. I had a source in Congress telling me that the Senate was also bringing in more advisors.
Part of that increase is due to the pandemic. People already feel stress and anxiety, and then you add on January 6, and they notice that the need for mental health care increases. The same goes for the Capitol Police. It’s another group that was equally affected, not only by what happened on January 6 but also at the beginning of this month in April, when there was another attack leads to the death of officer Billy Evans.
Who seems to be affected the most?
According to anecdote, it is very diverse. Due to privacy concerns surrounding the advisory services provided by these congressional resources, I cannot tell you more than 11,500 advisory interactions involving individuals, but we do know that these that service not only assists members of Congress and senior staff, but also assists everyone. Members of the Capitol Police are also looking for help.
There have been several suicide deaths in the Capitol Police force since the January 6 event, right?
It’s correct, and those events are clearly affecting a lot of people in the Capitol community. That’s part of the really important reason for us to focus on awareness of what’s being done within the mental health support here.
How has stigma surrounding mental health affected the Capitol’s recovery efforts?
We have heard from many people who feel there is still stigma surrounding mental health support and mental health care, and all the people we spoke to on camera said it was important. Best of all, helping to remove the stigma, letting people know it’s okay to contact and ask for help.
Congressman Rodney Davis (R-IL District 13), for example, began holding regular Zoom sessions with colleagues – completely informal – so people could talk about their experiences. He has an interesting story because he was the one who did on that baseball field in 2017 when Rep. Steve Scalise (District 1 R-LA) and others were shotSo he’s someone who has suffered injuries on Capitol Hill before and he talked about the importance of being able to open up a space for people to share their stories. That’s why he started doing these very intimate sessions on Zoom, just to be able to let everyone in his orbit know they could talk about it. And he told everyone that if there was a need for more mental health resources, he wanted to hear about it. And then there is congressman Jason Crow (D-CO District 6) was in the House’s showroom when the uprising happened and he has a string of texts with the other members of Congress who are in the showroom where they regularly Touch the grounds just to make sure they are all right. .
Reminiscing about our interview with Congressman Kildee is really interesting. Feedback has been largely positive, but he recently posted some really annoying things that people have been saying, calling him weak for seeking mental health assistance and calling him ones names that i won’t repeat We talked about that when we did the interview. I said, “You’re a member of Congress setting here with your therapist, what do you think the reaction would be?” and his feedback that it may not have been all positive, but he described hundreds of people calling, texting or emailing support for him. His attitude was, “Hey, I can do it, but if I can really help someone know that they can contact for help and that’s okay, and you don’t need to. be ashamed of it. [it’s worth it]. “
For many people, it’s hard to ask for help, but we’re still at a point where there’s a very clear stigma and backlash to it when it happens.
Are there any permanent changes made to the Capitol Palace mental health system due to the January 6 events?
There is a requirement for one [approximately] Raised $ 250,000 in funding for some Congressional advisory support. And law enforcement at the Capitol is developing an in-house colleague support system to ensure that police officers have some of the assistance they need in the future. It is expected to be rolled out later this year.
If gaps remain in care, there are no consulting resources for contract staff; however, a group of bipartisan lawmakers did indeed call for more support for those who are not full-time employees but work on Capitol Hill. There was an urge to try to make sure those people had the resources they needed, and that is now being passed through the system.
The question is whether what they’re doing is enough and I don’t yet have an answer to that. I don’t think anyone has done that, and that’s why we will continue to light it up. Because what often happens is that there is a lot of attention given to something as soon as it happens that subsides and then disappears. Therefore, for many people who want to see more sources of mental health become available, it is important to maintain the energy around it.
What do you think the takeaway from this report is for ordinary Americans?
Seeing people talk openly about their mental health struggles and what they’re doing to get over it, can be very important for people across the country and not just in Washington. Especially when someone like a member of Congress comes out and admits and admits that they have sought help because they needed help. I saw that response, even when our story was broadcast, such as those who said on social media, “I watched [the insurrection] I was at home and even felt affected. People who weren’t even in Washington were extremely worried about what they saw happening on January 6th. I think this story has a resonance with people all over the country and we saw it. In that response, this is extremely gratifying.
Do you feel like safety has been restored to the people at the Capitol?
It is difficult to answer that with a “yes” or “no” blanket. I can tell you, based on the conversations my colleagues and I have had, that there are some people who still feel very anxious and stressed getting into work. Until recently, there was a giant barbed wire fence surrounding the Capitol – a very clear reminder of what happened on Friday. Much of that has dropped now, except right around the Capitol.
One of the young women we talked to on the one hand felt like: “That’s what I do, I work, and that’s how I can feel a little bit normal of being able to go to work. and focus on your work. “But at the same time, when your workplace, where you always feel safe -” one of the safest buildings in the country “is a phrase we’ve heard a lot when reporting this – When that is violated, it will prolong the effect.
Need someone to just listen? You can contact us SAMHSA national hotline at 1-800-662-4357 24 hours a day, seven days a week.