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A Conversation with Jason Kander on Mental Heath

Election Administration

Mental health is a critical issue when it comes to a person’s overall health and impacts people just as much as physical health. With the increase in harassment and threats against election officials, staff, and their families, mental health awareness is more critical than ever in the elections community.   

Commissioner Hovland interviewed Jason Kander, a veteran and former Missouri Secretary of State. Kander currently works to raise awareness about mental health, based on his own post-traumatic growth after his service in Afghanistan as a military intelligence officer.  

In this interview, Kander shared his story dealing with untreated post-traumatic stress disorder. Kander emphasized that everybody has their own stories and struggles, noting that one person’s experiences really can’t be compared to another’s. 

He shared how he had to be ready to seek out help and the importance of talking about and sharing your experiences with others. “You have no idea the likelihood that you are granting a cultural permission slip to that person that they needed at that time to go ahead and go get help for themselves, and you might save their life... A positive approach to mental health can be contagious, and the more you speak openly and normalize the idea of treating mental health exactly the same as physical.” 

Link to Self-Care Resources 

Crisis Support Hotlines  

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 1-800-273-TALK (8255)  

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration – 1-800-662-HELP (4357)   

The National Center for Victims of Crime Help Line – 1-855-4-VICTIM (1-855-484-2846) 

The Carter Center’s Taking Care of Yourself to Serve Others: A Well-being Resource Guide for Election Officials