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Episode #311: Pandemic Mental Health Strategies and Beyond, with Kristy Menage Bernie

the best practices show podcast Jun 18, 2021

According to the World Health Organization, one in four people will suffer from mental illness in their lifetime. Since COVID-19, that number has nearly doubled! To explain why that is and how we can better prepare for the mental health pandemic, Kirk Behrendt brings in Kristy Menage Bernie to talk about ways to manage mental illness and eliminate the stigma attached to the subject. For resources to help improve your mental health, listen to Episode 311 of The Best Practices Show!

Main Takeaways:

  • According to the WHO, about 25% of people will suffer from mental illness in their lifetime.
  • On average, people wait 10 to 11 years to seek care for mental illness.
  • Taking care of yourself is an obligation, not a luxury!
  • Yoga can improve your mood more than walking and vigorous exercise.
  • There are many apps that can improve anxiety and depression.
  • Have compassion for those with mental illness, and also their children and caretakers.


“Pre-pandemic, according to the World Health Organization, one in four of us will suffer from some type of mental illness in our lifetime. And then, recently released from the Center for Disease Control, that figure has nearly doubled. And that study ended at the end of February. So, we’re seeing this staggering impact. In fact, you'll find many experts who are saying we have a concurrent pandemic, and it’s mental health. The mental health pandemic is real.” (07:02—07:43)

“What I think is just so fascinating is that we’re hesitant to talk about mental well-being, and rightly so. In fact, I thought, ‘Our family is so unique. There's no one like us out there,’ when in fact, it’s much more prevalent. And the World Health Organization says 25%, that's of what they could qualify, but what we know about mental health, on average, most people will not seek care for 10 to 11 years.” (08:51—09:26)

“Another interesting statistic, Candy Crush is probably one of the most utilized app games in the world. I wasn't necessarily a fan. But as the pandemic hit, I started to realize that I was playing more — full disclosure, I think I'm on level 8,700. Gah! Why? Why was I so engaged in it? Well, first of all, it has a very addictive quality. But secondly, it takes you out of your current circumstances for a brief moment of time and gives you the opportunity to figure out an issue or a problem and solve it, and then level up. You get rewarded for that.” (12:50—13:33)

“Candy Crush gave me some control back. I play it way too much. But get this, there are app technologies that will improve anxiety and depression. And Personal Zen is the one that really has the most science behind it.” (14:18—14:37)

“Taking care of yourself, it’s not a luxury; it’s your obligation. So, don't feel bad about taking care of yourself.” (19:51—20:00)

“At the end of the day, again, write down or think about it, ‘What did I do today that really impacted someone’s life?’ And I can't think of a profession more that does things every day for people than dentistry. But acknowledging that for yourself builds your self-esteem, helps release your own anxiety, and keeps you from slipping into depression.” (21:03—21:33)

“Yoga increases GABA [gamma aminobutyric acid]. And that's the chemical that helps us feel better, aside from the obvious ones. GABA prevents the negative thoughts from coming in . . . So, we know that yoga increases that more than walking and vigorous exercise. And it’s that neurotransmitter that keeps us from thinking negative thoughts about ourselves.” (25:21—25:58)

“Dentistry can shift. And what I like to say is, we can replace confusion with compassion. And not only those that may be facing a mental health challenge, but those who are children of those individuals, or those who care for those individuals, because it is a huge ripple effect that's pretty profound.” (29:49—30:14)

“[Dentists] see people more than any other healthcare provider. And wow, I know we’re busy — right now, especially. Which, my heart goes out to every practicing clinician. I cannot thank you enough. You are on the front lines. You're making a difference. Take care of yourselves. That, I can't emphasize enough. It’s not a luxury. Go get that foot massage or pedicure. Take care of you. You've got to take care of you.” (33:23—33:58)


  • Kristy’s background. (04:24—06:19)
  • The pandemic’s impact on mental health in dentistry. (06:59—07:43)
  • Why this number has doubled in the last year. (08:08—09:26)
  • How to navigate and make sense of this. (10:30—12:14)
  • Candy Crush and other apps for mental health. (12:49—15:25)
  • Parents and social media. (16:25—17:42)
  • Basic Psychosocial Skills: A Guide for First Responders. (18:40—23:52)
  • Other tools in navigating mental health challenges. (24:01—26:00)
  • Other thoughts/data on this subject. (27:28—30:29)
  • Trends in the dental community. (30:48—31:28)
  • Last thoughts, Kristy’s seminar, and contact information. (31:50—34:30)

Reach Out to Kristy:

Kristy’s website, Educational Designs: https://educationaldesigns.com/

Kristy’s Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kristymenagebernie


Further Reading:

Personal Zen app: https://personalzen.com/

Calm app: https://www.calm.com/

COVID Coach app: https://mobile.va.gov/app/covid-coach

Basic Psychosocial Skills: A Guide for First Responders: https://www.who.int/news/item/01-06-2020-basic-psychosocial-skills-a-guide-for-covid-19-responders

NAMI: https://nami.org/Home

Mental Health America: https://www.mhanational.org/

Indian Health Service: https://www.ihs.gov/

Kristy Menage Bernie Bio:

Kristy’s career in dental hygiene has exceeded 30 years and includes a diverse and unique set of experiences. Clinician, change agent, educator, and advocate include a few of the roles she has embraced. Although Kristy practiced clinically after graduating with honors from the University of Maryland, she was soon ‘discovered’ at an evening study club by a hygienist involved in sales. She excelled at sales, and after relocating to California, she co-founded Educational Designs, Inc. (EDI), an oral healthcare industry consulting company focused on evidence-based marketing strategies, expanding the role of the dental hygienist in the oral healthcare industry and lifelong learning.

Kristy graduated with honors from the master’s program in 2015 at the University of California San Francisco, where she is also an Assistant Clinical Professor, Oral Epidemiology and Dental Public Health, Preventive and Restorative Dental Sciences, and a course director for the MS-DH program. She received a research grant in 2015 from the American Dental Hygienists Association and is currently on the Editorial Review Board for the Journal of Dental Hygiene.

As a member of the American Dental Hygienists Association, American Dental Education Association, the Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, the Organization for Safety and Asepsis Procedures, and the American Academy of Dental Hygiene, she has received a variety of accolades and awards. Kristy has held numerous leadership roles over the years with a focus on future colleagues, and has contributed to numerous publications over the years, as well as having authored a chapter on oral malodor in the 2nd Edition of Mosby’s Dental Hygiene textbook. She has been quoted in Esquire Magazine, Women’s Health Magazine, interviewed by ESPN Radio, highlighted in digital media, and featured on the cover of RDH Magazine.

Kristy has been an international continuing education facilitator for over 25 years on major dental and dental hygiene conventions, as well as an invited guest speaker to dental hygiene programs throughout California. Her interactive style demonstrates a commitment to implementing outcome-based teaching through humor, innovative use of technology, and participation. As a career-long advocate for future colleagues, she enjoys collaborating with graduates to expand their professional horizons. 


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