OYM Andrew Pleener, MD | Mental Health Conversation


Have you been through a stressful challenge in your life that’s impacted your body? Today’s guest is Dr. Andrew Pleenerthe Founder and Director of #SameHere Psych Alliance. In this episode, Dr. Pleener discusses with Timothy HayesPsy.D. how mental health should not be a topic limited to the 1 in 5 labeled with mental illness, but for 5 in 5 because owing to the fact that we all face challenges in life. If we don’t pay attention to our mental health, our physical health will be impacted as well. Are you ready to make mental health a part of everyday conversation? Then this episode is for you. Tune in! 

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Same Here Global: Why Mental Health Should Be Part Of Our Daily Conversation With Dr. Andrew Pleener

Dr. Andrew Pleener is the Founder and Director of #SameHere Psych Alliance. Prior to his work with #SameHere, he had been involved in humanitarian efforts, including co-creating and directing a makeshift psychiatric trauma center on the island of St. Martin during hurricane Irma in 2017. His clinic served as the main source of medical treatment and shelter for two cities, from the time of impact through military evacuation. He was featured in Newsday and Central Florida Lifestyle Magazine for these efforts. Dr. Pleener in 2019 founded Regional Psychiatry to serve Central Florida with an integrative approach to patient care. Dr. Pleener is a Diplomat of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, and a fellow of The American Institute of Stress. 

Dr. Pleener, thank you for being here. It’s great to talk to you.  

Thank you so much for having me here, Timothy. I appreciate it.  

As with physical health, we all have mental health. We should be proactive about it. Share on X

The Journey’s Dream seems very aligned with #SameHere. I’d love to hear how you got into the work you’re doing and what drives your passion for it.  

A little bit of my background. I’m an Integrative Psychiatrist. I have a practice out in Central Florida. My real motivation to get into this space came about from childhood experiences. My father is a functional family practitioner who had an emphasis on lifestyle medicine and weight loss and nutrition. He’s always telling me at a young age, I used to chat with him frequently, people would come into his practice overweight. They would be on cholesterol-lowering medications. They would develop insulin resistance due to the weight and maybe put on diabetic medications. They would develop sleep apnea. They would feel fatigued and eventually be diagnosed with depressive symptoms and start being put on multiple psychotropics. They would come to his practice.  

He used to always tell me, “Does anybody help get the weight down and work on the lifestyle medicine so that they don’t need all these medications in the first place?” They always resonated with me watching him coach them to weight loss and put them on nutritional plans. He was big into the whole brain-gut connection back in the ’80s when this was something that nobody was ever thinking about. He would start to take people off the medications or at least lower the dose. I used to watch the mood symptoms start to change. It made me aware even at a young age that there’s a big connection between lifestyle and the way we think, feel and function. When I was a little bit older, we took a trip to Africa. We went to Kenya and Tanzania on this amazing trip.  

On the way home from that, my mother got sick. She wasn’t getting better. She was having indigestion and an upset stomach. We took her to a doctor. She was diagnosed with a parasitic infection and was put on anti-protozoans. We thought she started to get better. For the next 2.5 years, she lost tremendous amounts of weight. It didn’t matter how much she ate, she kept losing weight. She was fatigued, malaise, couldn’t get up out of bed, brain fog. I watched her deteriorate. She got every single test in the book medically and every single test was coming back normal. She was diagnosed with mental health issues. She started seeing practitioners and was prescribed medications. Nothing seemed to be getting better. I was watching her struggle to do anything.  

Eventually, we got in touch with the African consulate. They put us in touch with a doctor who used to oversee the United Nations Tropical Disease Program. He saw her and on that same day, he diagnosed her with another parasite that went undiscovered all those years. She ends up being treated for that. I slowly watched all of her symptoms get better and resolved. There was this amazing connection between how physical symptoms can cause mental health issues, and how stress and trauma can cause medical issues. As I was going into medical school, I made up my mind that I wanted to be a psychiatrist. I wanted the focus to be on the mind-body connection. Watching all those struggles that I’ve gone through, watching my mother get sick, my parents separated as I was going into college, the weight of all that, I started to experience physical health issues myself, light sensitivity, fatigue, brain fog and loss of interest.  

My grades were on par. I was getting all A’s and got into medical school and still did extremely well. I didn’t meet these criteria for the disorder. I was functioning but I was having all these physical health symptoms. When all these tests came back negative, I assumed that it wasn’t mental health-related. As I started studying the mind-body aspect and learning the impact that stress and trauma have on psychological processes, and how that leads to hormonal imbalances and inflammation and changes to the neurocircuits and how that impacts the way we think feel and function, I started to realize that it’s stress-related. I started going on a mission of wellness, lifestyle, diet, exercise and getting into modalities, whether different styles of breathing and mindfulness. It started me on my whole journey towards an integrated path. I took certification courses through the Leslie Korn Institute. I started to recover. Those are some of the common stories that you hear among integrative providers. Everybody has their own story. Hopefully, that gets a little bit of my background as to why I got involved with this space.  

It’s exactly the kind of story that we’re used to hearing from integrative providers. Not all of them have their own illness. Dr. Mark Hyman tells a similar story where he had all kinds of physical problems that the current medical model couldn’t provide any solution for. That’s what drove him to get into the functional and integrative medicine area. It’s wonderful to hear that you were able to turn it around and the situation for your mother was able to turn around. Now you’re practicing as a Functional Medicine Psychiatrist. Can you let our readers know, in your definition, how you would give meaning to that? How do you talk about that in a direct way with patients? There’s a difference between you and somebody who doesn’t call themselves a functional psychiatrist or integrative psychiatrist.  

I refer to myself as an Integrative Psychiatrist. I utilize a lot of the principles of functional medicine as well. The main difference is that for speaking from the conventional model, the conventional model has been heavily based on diagnosing, based on the DSM criteria. If you have 5 out of 9 of these symptoms, you have this diagnosis. If you have 4 out of 9 of these symptoms, you do not. You’re perfectly fine, healthy and nothing is going on. Medication management has been one of the primary sources of treatment. The integrative model looks at the whole person and how medical conditions impact mental health and how stress and trauma can impact the body causing medical issues. Learning mind-body connection about how challenges that we go through in life on top of genetics and lifestyle, how does that impact psychological processes, affecting things like ruminating thoughts and cognitive fusion and lack of psychological flexibility.  

OYM Andrew Pleener, MD | Mental Health Conversation

Mental Health Conversation: Stress and trauma lead to hormonal imbalances and inflammation and they impact the way we think, feel, and function.


What does that do to the body? What does it do hormonally to the body? What does our body start releasing when that happens? What happens when we start shifting the balance between the normal balance of fight or flight, and the rest and digest response towards fight or flight response? When the nerves in the body that wants to slow everything down start to become neglected and shrunk, that leads to consequences. That starts to impact our digestive rhythms, circadian rhythms, ultradian rhythms and absorb the proper nutrients. We can’t make the proper neurotransmitters anymore. They could explain all these different concepts to the clients. When you start looking at it that way, you realize that mental health is not a binary topic of sick versus healthy.  

It’s not this straight line where you either have a disorder or you’re perfectly fine. It’s a continuum. Maybe the stress and trauma start to change your nervous system in your body to the point of getting a disorder. Maybe it’s manifesting in low reaction time, poor decision-making, fatigue, missing free throw shots. What are all the different ways that we can help push these processes back towards pretrauma states using various non-medication modalities in combination with conventional modalities? It’s about knowing that there are other ways to get to the source, whether we’re talking about diet, lifestyle, micronutrients or alternative ways outside of the meds to regulate sleep. It could be as simple as recommending blue-light-blocking glasses to help increase melatonin at nighttime.  

We’re on all these screens all the time and how we can start utilizing B complex vitamins or B12 in the morning. What are the different botanicals that we can use as alternatives to medications that are a little bit more natural? To me, it’s looking at how the underlying medical conditions are affecting our body, how we can start to treat that to improve our mood, learning how nutrition affects our body and how stress and trauma impacts the nervous system. Working on all three of those buckets and utilizing conventional tools and tools beyond pharmacology.  

Somewhere along the line, you’re decided to be the Founder and Director of #SameHere Psych Alliance. Can you tell us about that entity and what you’re hoping to do with that?  

The mission of #SameHere is to change the way mental health is perceived in practice on a global scale. We’re a collected entity of celebrities, influencers, everyday people, CEOs, practitioners, star experts, and advocates. They are all holding hands saying that mental health is not a topic just for the 1 in 5 that are labeled with mental illness. It’s a topic for 5 in 5. This is something that we all go through because we all face challenges in life, whether it’s divorce, breakups, job losses or what everybody’s going through right now with COVID-19. These experiences impact us on this continuum to the point of disorder or lack of wellness. As with physical health, we all have mental health. We should be proactive about it.  

We’re all holding hands with all these different advocates chanting #SameHere, which is the American Sign Language sign with a thumb to the chest and pinky pointing out. I’ve been through a challenge that’s impacted my body. You’ve been through a challenge that impacts yours. They relate to each other. The way a soldier’s neurocircuits are impacted is so different from the way my neural circuits were impacted watching my mother deteriorate. When I went through my own struggles when my parents separated is not so different from somebody that loses a child from SIDS or a boxer that’s 11-0 and gets knocked out for the first time and is having ruminating thoughts every time he steps into the ring. Maybe it manifests differently but the circuitry involved is rather the same. We’re part of the same tribe but we didn’t know it, hence this concept of #SameHere. 

It’s a movement that’s spreading across the US and global that’s showing that this is a topic for everybody. That’s what breaks down the stigma. It all was derived from a personal lived experience. Eric Kussin is the Founder of the Same Here Global Mental Health Movement. He’s a sports exec. He had worked in the sports industry for many years with the New Jersey Devils and the Phoenix Suns. Eventually, he landed his dream job with the Florida Panthers, an NHL hockey team out in South Florida. He’s brought in to become the CEO of this company. All of a sudden out of the blue, he was stopped in his tracks with debilitating physical issues, which we now know as mental health that he had no idea. He never had any past “mental health” history. He has never seen a psychiatrist or therapist.  

He had no idea what this topic was. All of a sudden, he was having brain fog and malaise and couldn’t put together sentences. He couldn’t have a single original thought as he states it. He couldn’t remember the middle names of his siblings. His automatic thought was that he was having a brain tumor and he ended up stepping down to get the medical workups thinking that they would find something. Everything came back negative. He was referred to a conventional practitioner and ends up leaving that first appointment with five different psychotropics. Thinking what we see in commercials, you’re sick, you take an antibiotic, you get better. Antidepressants sound quite similar. He thought that this was the normal way to do it and that he would get better.  

Let's bring awareness to non-medication healing modalities. People want this. Share on X

Two and a half years go by and he’s spent over 50 different psychotropics thinking that he’s doing everything that there is to work on this, laying in bed, staring at the ceiling, going through all these side effects of these medications, seeing doctors, doing a four-week washout, trying new combinations. Two and a half years go by as he permanently leaves his position. Eventually, he told that he has a treatment-resistant mental illness. He ends up getting TMS therapy and going to a hospital. He was told by the head of the hospital that he has tried every single thing that there is. His last resort is shock therapy. This is a big part of our movement because he was terrified to hear that the last resort is to look in shock therapy. It was this idea that when shock therapy didn’t work out for him, he believed that his life was over. There was no hope.  

When you tell somebody, “This is your last resort,” you take away hope. When you tell people that there are all these different modalities out there that can get to the source, it gives hope. Part of our movement is to make sure nobody ever has to hear those words ever again. He ends up leaving Florida. He’s living with his parents out in New York. His parents are in the school industry. His father is a principal and his mother is a teacher. They got connected to an integrative psychotherapist and blown away by the work that she does. She says, “Eric, you have to try this.” He was skeptical. He ends up giving it a shot. She’s the first one that explains this concept of breathing and how when we’re stressed for such a long period of time, there’s this nerve that starts to lose tone.  

We could stimulate this nerve by doing these rhythmic breathing exercises. We can start communicating with our brain through these rhythms to tell our brain that everything is safe, and how we could improve digestion and lower heart rates and reducing inflammation. She was the first person to explain it. She’s also the first one that started the conversation with Eric, “Tell me about your life,” instead of “What are your symptoms?” He ends up explaining this concept about how his brother, his whole entire life was in and out of hospitals with cancer. His older brother had leukemia, went into a coma, came out of the coma and went into septic shock. His father had to donate a kidney. Cancer kept coming back and he was deteriorating. Several of his friends later on in life died of heart disease.  

The thing is he had zero idea that this was ever a topic that was impacting him because he thought that stress and trauma are only for military soldiers. It was his brother that was going through everything. He had no idea that every single time he was driving home that he was having automatic thoughts of what if the cancer is stage four. That was doing something physically to his body. He had no idea that every time he would see an ambulance drive by, having automatic thoughts of, “Is that going to my house,” instead of, “Is that going to somebody else’s place?” He had no idea that this was starting to build up in him. Over time, he was having this breakdown. This is the first person that opened up the door for them, that even watching somebody else go through a challenge could impact you physically.  

These are modalities that we can do outside of medications that help strengthen certain circuits in the body that are impacted by this. This is the reason why you feel the way that you do because of all of these accumulated experiences. Hwas taking the Art of Living course founded by Ravi Shankar. He was doing it for three days and learned about the Sudarshan Kriya and multiple other breathing modalities. He ends up sticking with this for about 30 days. The course is for three days. He sticks with it for about another 30 or maybe 40 days. 

He got connected with Dr. Richard Brown, a pioneer in the space. He’s faculty over in Columbia’s program, author of The Healing Power of the Breath, a must-read. He went in to explain the depths of the mind-body connection and how it physically changes the body, and then educated him on multiple ways to heal outside of prescription medication, various supplements and dietary and lifestyle changes. He was able to lower his psychotropic medication and put him on various supplements and then taught him ways to heal outside of breathing. He taught him the concepts of qigong meditation and various styles of yoga. He learned about tension and trauma releasing exercises, EFT and various non-medication healing modalities, otherwise called complementary alternative. We call them STARR exercises. He ends up going on this retreat to Indonesia. He goes into more depth about all of this and starts to feel better.  

OYM Andrew Pleener, MD | Mental Health Conversation

Mental Health Conversation: When you tell somebody, “This is your last resort,” you take away hope. When you tell them there are different modalities out there that can help, you give hope.


When he comes back, he connects the dots on three concepts. One concept is for 2.5 years, every single person was telling him all about medications. When that doesn’t work, you have PMS and shock therapy as your last resort, only to then find out that there are a million other options out there that nobody had ever explained to him before. The second concept, even watching somebody else go through a challenge can impact your mental health directly. Who on this planet isn’t impacted in some way when we think about watching others go through breakups, job losses and divorces? We’re all going through here with Corona. If going through a challenge directly or watching somebody else go through a challenge can impact you on a physical level, then why do we see nonprofits all around the world that 1 out of 5 have mental health issues? Why isn’t it a 5 and 5 topic? Why aren’t we learning about all these non-medicated ways to heal that are safer and much more effective? Why aren’t we doing this at a young age for resiliency purposes? 

We only do that with physical health. We don’t wait for plaque to build up in our bodies before we start exercising and eating right and organic. Why aren’t we doing that with our central nervous system? He shared his story on LinkedIn a few years ago. It gets read over 150,000 times within three days. He gets over 500 missed calls from as far as New York to China. The commonality in all these calls is nobody was talking about the disorder. Everybody was talking about a lived experience that they had been through. Whether it was watching somebody go through an illness to having a breakup and getting remarried but still not truly feeling they’re over their ex. Regardless of what their physical symptoms were, they were all talking about the root underlying causes, the challenges in their life. That may be manifested later on to the point of disorder anywhere on that continuum.  

Eric decided to form this organization to get away from focusing on disorder and more on the root underlying causes and the challenges. He was able to get various people in the sports industry because that was the background. Major League Baseball players, NFL, NBA players, musicians, DJs, actors and actresses all share a vulnerable story of a challenge that they’ve been through or watch somebody else go through. We call it the #SameHere Stories. Collectively, they’re referred to as #SameHere Celebrity Alliance. People started tuning into our website to read the stories of celebrities. Our audience began to climb over social media. Eventually, we let everyday people share stories. They’re called #SameHere Heroes. They started to reach out and say, “We understand and we’re starting to get this that maybe this is a topic for everybody, 5 and 5. We all go through these challenges, but how do we learn ways to build resilience so that this plaque doesn’t build up in the arteries, so the stress and trauma don’t build all the way up in the central nervous system? At least we can use these ways to complement the medication ways.  

That’s when I got connected with Eric. I was practicing Integrative Psychiatry out in Florida and then doing work with somebody that was connected to the organization. A mutual friend ends up connecting Eric and me. We had a 2.5-hour conversation and realized that we’re both from the same town in New York. I went to the same high school about six years apart. We never knew each other in high school but it was a serendipitous feel. We wanted to bring awareness. We had this idea of, “Let’s bring awareness to these non-medication healing modalities. People want this.” Eric had no idea that any of this existed. It’s not taught in medical school and residency. There are seven billion people on the planet. We seem to be getting an audience. How do we bring awareness that these modalities exist? We wanted to get away from calling these modalities complementary or alternative because some people will say, “I don’t want to try something complementary or alternative or holistic. I want to go to where the science is or where the medications are.” 

People should be made aware of all these different healing modalities so they can build a mental health toolbox. Share on X

The word alternative also bothered us because these modalities have been around a lot longer than conventional modalities. We came up with this acronym called STARR, which stands for Stress and Trauma Active Release and Rewiring exercises. We call it the gym for the brain. We all know all the various exercises for your physical health. These are the exercises for the central nervous system. We were able to get the leaders in the space of specific STARR modalities to come, join and be part of our organization, whether Stephen Hayes, the inventor of ACT, representing ACT for our organization, or Amy Weintraub representing yoga, or the founders of Accelerated Resolution Therapy, or the founder of the Othmer Method of Neurofeedback, or the inventor of Alpha-Stim, CES, aromatherapy and qigong. 

People can click on these profiles and read the bio of the STARR expert, but then learn the science behind why these modalities help. How does integrated breathing modalities help the nervous system? How does it impact the vagus nerve? What is the vagus nerve? How does that help improve digestion and reduce inflammation? What does havening do on the amygdala? What does qigong do in Meridian points? What is a Meridian point? Why should we start utilizing all of these things? If you think about physical health, if you live a sedentary lifestyle for years, multiple muscles in the body would atrophy. We should do a singular modality for the rest of our life like go on a treadmill every single day. What about biceps and triceps and cardio? Multiple parts of your body need to be worked on. What about nutrition?  

It’s the same thing when we undergo these challenges for so many years, multiple architectural pathways are disrupted. Why should we learn about a singular modality? Why aren’t we learning about many different modalities? Even if they’re the same, I might prefer bench press. You might prefer pushups. Let’s show all these modalities. People can build a mental health toolbox. We kept reverse engineering these concepts where the next step was how are people going to be connected to providers that understand these concepts? Dr. Richard Brown had this understood to Eric. He has such a long waitlist to get in. How are people going to be able to connect with providers around the world that can educate them on these things that they don’t have to wait 2.5 years staring at a ceiling as Eric did from day one? They can learn about the mind-body connection, total patient care and ways to get to the source, whether they’re at the point of disorder or they’re trying to maintain wellness, and looking for a place to turn to learn about mental health. 

We came up with the name the #SameHere Psych Alliance to be inclusive of integrative psychologist, psychotherapist, psychiatric nurse practitioners, psychiatrists that all studied the mind-body connection. Several of the members in our alliance you know very well like Lila Massoumi, the Chair of the American Psychiatric Association Integrative Caucus. Dr. Richard Brown, his wife, Patricia, our founding members. Will Van Derveer who was on the IPI Institute out in Colorado, the most comprehensive integrative training program globally. Noshene Ranjbar who directs the Integrative Training Fellowship Program out in Tucson, Arizona. Leslie Korn, a world pioneer in integrative modalities and our continuing education courses, and Nishi Bhopal who you interviewed. Through this, it became this mission to form a global directory.  

We’ve been putting together integrated providers all over the United States. We’re about to launch the International Psych Alliance with leaders out in the Netherlands, Portugal, Norway, Guatemala, Canada and various countries. To be consistent with this 5 and 5 just like all the celebrities, the influencers and everyday heroes share vulnerable stories. All the members of the Psych Alliance also share a challenge that they’ve been through or have watched what somebody else has gone through. Wherever anybody in the world is looking for total patient care, they can come right to this network that’s being built and get straight to the source.  

The website, SameHereGlobal.org that contains all of these things like the STARR Alliance and the STARR exercises and those experts is beautifully laid out and easy to navigate. People can go there. Even from the front page, especially on the mobile app, it loads up with the #SameHere Heroes and Heroes Today. I love the inclusive nature of it. I love the idea that you’re pulling together these major resources for some of the traditional medicines and integrated them with the scientific validation. This is downright exciting. How long have you been putting together the STARR Alliance?  

The organization as a concept was developed several a few years ago. That’s when Eric shared his story. It became this movement based on the vulnerability of the story that he shared and how he laid it all out. It became about forming these networks of celebrities and everyday heroes. I got connected several years ago. We started working on building up the STARR Network. The STARR Network is still evolving and growing. We’re still introducing. We got an Ayurveda specialist that’s going to be up on the website. We featured Bonnie Kaplan representing micronutrients through the work that she does out in Calgary. This is still a growing network as we continue to hold hands and get leaders in this space to come together. As far as the Psych Alliance goes, we launched it in May 2020 as founding members. We’ve been growing out the directory ever since. It’s been all word of mouth.  

OYM Andrew Pleener, MD | Mental Health Conversation

The Healing Power of the Breath: Simple Techniques to Reduce Stress and Anxiety, Enhance Concentration, and Balance Your Emotions

People are reaching out to get involved. What’s exciting is that we’re laying out a pathway now where conventional practitioners can learn about integrative techniques and be featured on the website. A lot of conventional practitioners are calling and saying, “We would love to be involved. How do we get on the website? How do we learn about this? We love what you guys are doing.” We now have resources where they can get training, whether it’s through the IPI, whether it’s through Dr. Leslie Korn’s Institute, whether it’s through Noshene Ranjbar’s fellowship program. They can get the training in these models and be featured as part of the network. From growing out these networks together, it’s led to collaborations with numerous organizations all about culture change, 5 and 5 continuum model integrative modalities to be used for resiliency purposes.  

We have a K-12 program where we’re partnered out with 30 school districts out of New York. Our programs and curriculum are in many different countries overseas through our partner program, Belouga. These are all culture-changing programs where we get celebrities and influencers to share vulnerable stories, work the belts student-led mental health clubs. We are using our scale app technology to improve social and emotional communication between teachers and the students, not just for the 1 or 2 students that seem to be acting differently. They get referred to a guidance counselor but to make it part of health in general. We are asking everybody, “Where do you feel on this continuum scale? Are you thriving? Are you gliding? Are you struggling?” Being able to, within this program, share things that are going on in your life that might be contributing to that.  

You can start to form connections as I go through challenges in life directly or indirectly. It impacts where I am on this continuum. We work to build out STARR exercise rooms in schools for people to learn about pushupsjump rope and situp for heart health. You can start to learn about breathing, tapping and havening for mental fitness. We partnered with the Department of Defense. We’ve been in collaboration with numerous colleges from USC all the way through Cornell. We have partnered with the NBA. We announced our partnership with the Golden State Warriors’ Building a Warrior, the Mind, Body & Spirit Series. We’re getting multiple members of these alliances to show the science behind how these challenges impact us and share a STARR exercise with the players, the fans and the communities.  

These aren’t one-and-done events. These are ongoing, year-long culture-changing of programs. We partnered with the NFL Players Association. A lot of awesome things are starting to go from a movement. Our goal is that one day, as I believe you agree with, mental health will be looked at the same way we do physical health. When it comes to physical health, there’s a gym on every single corner. People work out. We learned from our dentists and our primary care physicians what happens if we don’t brush our teeth. Plaque is going to build up and eventually lead to periodontal disease. We learned about all these different wellness modalities. We learn about what happens if we eat bad food and what it does for the body.  

When people start coming together and working collaboratively, that's when changes happen. Share on X

We don’t wait. We don’t just learn that there’s this thing called periodontal disease. If you don’t have this, you do not need to do anything. Keep living your life fine. That’s the message that we’re telling the 4 out of 5 groups, the 80% of the population that feels they’re not at the point of disorder. They feel that’s not a topic that applies to them. Even though their circuits are being impacted, they might be operating at 70% capacity, but why even settle for that? Our goal is to make it so that one day, we’re as proactive about our mental fitness the same way we are about our physical fitness.  

I remember years ago running across a TED Talk by a psychologist. The whole idea was emotional hygiene. He made the same point you did. It’s an idea that time has come and hopefully, catching on like wildfire. We’ve given the website, SameHereGlobal.org. People can find out all they need to know about you on that website. I want to thank you so much for this interview. It’s one of the easiest I’ve had to do. You’re well versed in this. I’m looking forward to getting the Journey’s Dream founders connected with the #SameHere founder. Let’s make sure we make that happen. I can’t thank you enough for the work that you do and for taking the time to talk to us here on the show. It’s delightful. I look forward to following your work and perhaps getting Journey’s Dream and #SameHere to collaborate in the near future.  

Thank you so much for having me, Tim. I love the work that you’re doing. This is an important part of the mission, bringing awareness to all of this. I’d love to collaborate with Journey’s Dream. To get this message out there, we have to hold hands with people with like-minded philosophies. Your organization is very much aligned. I would love to see this happen.  

OYM Andrew Pleener, MD | Mental Health Conversation

Mental Health Conversation: COVID has brought so much awareness to the fact that we are impacted. It’s one of the few times where we all went through a global trauma together.


The idea is coming from one of the people who was a seed for the Journey’s Dream organization, Dr. Michael Ryce. He’s been saying for years, “We want to get these tools into the minds, hearts and hands of every human being on the planet. That’s not something one person is going to do. 

When we start coming together and we started working collaboratively, that’s when we’re going to be able to make this change. It’s so important. COVID has brought so much awareness to the fact that we are impacted. It’s one of the few times where we all went through a global trauma together, every single person on the planet. Now we have all these splinters from this trauma that’s inside of us. Even if it goes away, how do we get these splinters out? These are the tools.  

Thank you so much for your time. I look forward to our next connection. Blessings.  

Thanks a lot, Timothy. Thanks for having me. 


Important links


About Andrew Pleener, MD

OYM Andrew Pleener, MD | Mental Health ConversationDr. Pleener is the Founder & Director of #SameHere Psych Alliance. Prior to his work with #SameHere, he had been involved in humanitarian efforts including co-creating and directing a makeshift Psychiatric Trauma Center on the Island of St. Maarten during Hurricane Irma in 2017. The clinic served as the main source of medical treatment and shelter for the cities of Cupecoy and Maho from the time of impact throughout military evacuation. He was featured in Newsday and Central Florida Lifestyle Magazine for these efforts.

In 2019, he founded Regional Psychiatry to serve Central Florida with an Integrative approach to patient care. Dr. Pleener is a diplomat of the American Board of Psychiatry & Neurology (ABPN), and a Fellow of the American Institute of Stress (FAIS).


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