My name is Hannah Simms, and I am with Rise Alone Therapy. I am a licensed clinical social worker and I wanted to do independent therapy — I always knew that’s what I wanted to do. As a military spouse, I’ve identified a need within military families for mental health care. I know that we have resources available to us, like Military One Source, but I’ve had a lot of spouses say to me, “I went to a therapist; they don’t understand the military lifestyle.” I was at a spouse event, and one of the girls said, “I had to drive to the airport the other day and I had a really bad anxiety attack. I called my doctor and I asked for medicine and it really made me nervous because I really didn’t want to affect [my spouse’s] career.” I hear that so much because there’s a lot of fear, there’s a lot of stigma. One thing that I try to do is stay close with some of the psychologists here on base, and I basically bug the heck out of them. [I ask,] “can someone go on EFMP status if they are seeking psychological [help], if their spouse is seeking psychological help, and if they do, would it affect them getting an overseas assignment?” I try to get the answers to some of these questions so when I hear them, I can give an educated answer because there is a lot of fear.
There are a lot of statistics… it was estimated that one in four active duty military spouses could be classified as having an anxiety disorder. [Blue Star Families 2021 Military Family Lifestyle Survey Comprehensive Report]
I had a [client who is] a spouse and a child psychologist. She said, “people just don’t want to be associated [with mental health help] because they don’t want to get put on EFMP status.” She’s a psychologist herself and a spouse, and she’s saying that. So there’s a pervasive stigma and there’s also a pervasive need. That’s why I created Rise Alone therapy.
It took about two years to get this practice started. We officially opened in January, and my practice for my caseload was over halfway full in less than a week. I’ve gotten multiple requests for marriage counseling, and I am not a marriage counselor, so I would love to hire an LMFT [licensed marriage and family therapist], or a PhD, psychology, whoever can do marriage counseling … there are some pretty big statistics about divorce rates in the military too; they’re horrifying. I would love to get an LMFT to work. I’m actually licensed to practice in New Mexico and South Carolina, but the majority of my clients are physically in New Mexico. That’s where the majority of my business is coming from, so I would like to hire a therapist here in New Mexico and what would really be helpful is the [Holland & Knight LLP] legal assistance that comes with the [Second Service Foundation] grant, because things get complicated: you have to get a 1099 contract, you have to have that reviewed by the state that you’re in. Things get testy when it comes to hiring people and expanding into a group practice and that is my ultimate goal. I view the more we grow as the more lives we’re able to impact, so that would be the first thing. That’s my goal. That’s actually a goal that I would like to get done by mid this year is get someone hired.
HOW DID SHE HEAR ABOUT SSF
I followed you guys [on Instagram] when you did the big conference in Vegas last year. And I kept thinking, “this is so cool, I wish I could be like a part of this,” but the business wasn’t technically open yet. It took about a year to get licensed, credentialed and certified with Tricare.