‘Simple, but not easy’: New mental health center opens in Marysville
MARYSVILLE — For years, Gunnar Rauch felt like he was putting all his suffering out of sight.
He had been through a lot. He was recovering from drug addiction and had previously struggled with homelessness. Rauch was in a better place now, but sometimes he still felt like the only way to survive was to erase the bad memories.
“You know when you were a kid, and your mom told you to go clean your room, but you kind of stuffed the whole mess under the bed or shoved it in the closet?” Rauch said. “All you could do was hope your parents never looked.”
That changed when Rauch became involved with Reboot Recovery, a Christian faith-based nonprofit. His girlfriend Sandra Stringham discovered Reboot’s peer-led trauma support and recovery classes through the church.
Rauch admits he didn’t really see the point when Stringham first dragged him into Reboot’s new space in Marysville. But after a few weeks of classes, he said his eyes opened.
“And every week has gotten better and better since,” Rauch said.
On Monday, at a groundbreaking ceremony for Reboot Recovery’s new office at 221 State Ave. in Marysville, staff opened in an effort to change more lives. City leaders said the classes and support networks offered by Reboot are vital to Marysville and beyond. Services are offered in person and virtually. This office will be a hub for the Pacific Northwest.
Asked how many people have graduated from Reboot courses so far, co-founder Evan Owens put the number – 17,834 – without hesitation. By 2025, the organization hopes to have reached 50,000 people. That’s about the same number of people who die by suicide each year in the United States, Owens said.
About 30 people, including peer leaders, students and social service providers, gathered in the new Reboot space on Monday morning to celebrate its official opening. The unassuming location, in a strip mall next to the Marysville Albertsons, belies the welcoming, sunny atmosphere inside the office, decorated with a mural of mountain vistas in shades of blue and a miniature garden of moss and ferns. A notice board near the entrance was filled with local job postings and guides to food and housing programs.
Owens, who co-founded Reboot with his wife, Jenny, a decade ago, said the office’s open and welcoming design was a deliberate choice to challenge the stereotype of support groups meeting in damp basements. He described the organization as a mobilizing force, something “completely different” from how people generally view mental health treatment. Through weekly volunteer-led classes, Reboot aims to help people live with their trauma and build better lives for themselves, Owens said.
Classes are offered in person at Reboot’s offices, of which there are two more in Texas and Tennessee, or remotely via Zoom. While the programming incorporates Christian elements, Owens said the general program is “accessible to everyone”. Specialized courses for veterans and first responders are also offered. Once students graduate from the 12-week course, they are eligible to teach as peer leaders themselves, Owens said.
Reboot is not intended to completely replace mental health treatment from a medical professional. Still, Owens said it was an effective companion to the treatment. And it’s often one of the most accessible alternatives, he says, when therapy or psychiatric help is out of reach.
Owens said the group chose Marysville as a regional hub for three reasons. First, the funding was there; grants from the Washington Health Care Authority and the William E. Wockner Foundation helped Reboot get off to a quick start. Second, Owens and his team quickly found tons of local support for the project, a factor he says was key to reaching the right people.
And finally, it was clear to Reboot staff that there was a desperate need for services like theirs in the Pacific Northwest. But they didn’t want to put down roots somewhere like downtown Seattle, Owens said, choosing instead to focus on “neglected” areas that often lack the resources or accessibility to reach those with the no more help needed.
In a speech at the ribbon-cutting ceremony, Marysville Mayor Jon Nehring said the city needs accessible mental health services and suicide prevention resources.
“Our police would tell you that over the last two or three years the calls for this stuff have skyrocketed, and I mean a double-digit percentage that’s skyrocketed,” Nehring told the crowd. . “It’s very disturbing, whether it’s suicide, domestic violence or depression. It’s something that the whole country is grappling with, and especially in Marysville, I know it’s something that we’re very concerned about as a city.
Nehring said in an interview after his speech that mental health-related emergency calls have increased dramatically in Marysville during the COVID-19 pandemic. As restrictions have eased, first responders have seen those numbers “decline” a bit, Nehring said, but they remain significantly higher than the pre-pandemic baseline.
Kathy Jo Kahn, Reboot’s regional outreach coordinator for Washington, knows firsthand the barriers faced by those seeking help with trauma and mental health. She said she had been part of at least 13 different denominational recovery ministries over the years. But she knew when she first encountered Reboot’s work that there was something different about their approach.
“It’s simple, but it’s not easy,” Kahn said. “Any peer can learn to lead, no matter how broken they feel, and use that brokenness to help themselves and others. I’ve seen things happen here that I’ve never seen in other programs.
Kahn discovered Reboot through another recovery group she helped lead. She was so inspired by their approach and results that she immediately got to work helping the organization find its new home in Marysville. She applied for instrumental grants, made connections with key members of the community, and identified the location of the new office.
Kahn said she’s excited about Reboot’s potential to expand its reach in the Northwest, including possible integration with trainings for first responders and other professions that routinely deal with trauma.
That potential is also evident for Stringham, who plans to incorporate reboot classes into the programming of Esther’s Place, an Everett day shelter for homeless women where she is director. The possibilities are endless, she said, and she and Rauch both know firsthand the changes Reboot can bring to a person’s life.
“We both come from the bottom,” Stringham said. “But we found a family here. We apply what we have learned to the rest of our lives. And it’s as if a weight has been lifted from our backs.