Community leader says people shouldn't be afraid to seek help when it's needed
- on May 8, 2017
Note: Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center will observe Mental Health Awareness Month in May with stories of hope and recovery.
Brad Burnside considers himself an introvert.
“I think some people are surprised by that,” said Burnside, who is the market president of US Bank in Lawrence and the incoming chair of the Bert Nash Governing Board of Directors.
The demands of his job and the associated civic responsibilities often put him in public positions that are not necessarily a comfort zone for someone who has built business relationships by getting to know people.
“I am in those positions by virtue of what I do, but it’s not natural for me,” Burnside said. “I accept them as part of my role, but also welcome the opportunities I have to connect with people as individuals while in that role.”
A third-generation graduate of the University of Kansas and a second-generation banker, Burnside loves his job, and he is proud of his bank’s involvement with community groups, including the Bert Nash Mental Health Center.
“I was originally the banker for Bert Nash,” said Burnside, who was a commercial team leader before becoming market president. “Bert Nash is a longtime client of US Bank, and a valued relationship.”
Burnside originally was appointed to the Bert Nash Endowment Board, before joining the Governing Board as treasurer. He will assume his duties as chair of the Bert Nash Governing Board in April 2017 at the organization’s annual Pioneer Celebration.
Not only has Burnside been involved with Bert Nash as a volunteer board member, he has also been a client.
“I became a client of Bert Nash about two years ago, after the board members participated in an educational training curriculum on mental health issues,” Burnside said. “My mother had mental health challenges, and my dad probably did, too, but he didn’t do anything about it. I was disappointed he wouldn’t try to get some help. Being on the Bert Nash board helped me understand that everyone can benefit from some professional insight into even the most everyday situations and interactions.”
When Burnside was dealing with some issues, he wasn’t afraid to seek help. His reasons for coming to Bert Nash as a client involved his children.
“My relationship with my boys is what got me into therapy,” Burnside said. “I went through a difficult divorce and my relationship with them was altered and not in a good way. I had an unsatisfying relationship with all three of them. I wasn’t willing to accept that.
“I think a lot of people find it shocking that I am willing to admit that I’ve gone to Bert Nash,” Burnside said. “I’ve had people say, ‘Aren’t you afraid someone will see you there or recognize you?’ I believe there should be no stigma associated with mental illness. I haven’t felt embarrassed about it or any shame about wanting to improve my mental health.”
At Bert Nash, Burnside was connected with a therapist who helped him work through those issues.
“She got me to think about things in a different way,” Burnside said. “I learned a lot of things. We would just talk, but she knew what she was doing. It got to the point where I was really looking forward to the sessions, and I missed them when they were over with. But I haven’t felt the inclination to do it again. It doesn’t mean I wouldn’t go back for other issues.”
Bert Nash CEO David Johnson commended Burnside for his leadership example and for not being afraid to ask for help.
“I have always believed strong leaders know when they need help and are not afraid to get it,” Johnson said. “Brad's story shows that trait can carry over into your personal life. His leadership at Bert Nash is an example of the strength of the Center in our community and in mental health.”
Burnside hopes by sharing his story it will encourage others and let them know help is available.
“One of the things I wish we could do a better job of is to let the community know this is where you can go to get help,” Burnside said. “It was probably one of the most important things I’ve ever done, to acknowledge that I needed help.”