Like for so many, 2020 has been one of the toughest years of Tanner Krause’s life. But there was one event in particular that left him irrevocably changed.
On March 15, at a Kum & Go in Springfield, Missouri, a shooter killed four people, including a store associate and police officer. Another store associate was left permanently paralyzed. Krause, the president of Kum & Go, flew to Springfield to meet with the families and express his condolences. It was one of the most difficult periods of his life.
“Running the company, you take responsibility for everything that happens,” Krause said. “It sticks with me that on my watch, we had something so terrible happen.”
“My therapist has been everything to me in 2020."
A week later, the pandemic shut down the world. The stress and emotions drastically affected Krause’s mental health.
“I found myself depressed and confused,” Krause said. “For the most part, I was able to keep it together at work, but when I wasn’t working, I was really distraught.”
RELATED: Learn about common mental illnesses
Even before all this, Krause was coming to understand the importance of mental health, which he calls a “recent awakening.” Pursuing his MBA in 2014, Krause took a statistics course, looked through management data, and showed the positive benefits for people who underwent therapy and counseling.
“That stuck with me,” Krause said. “I’m a data guy, and there’s really strong evidence that shows this improves people’s lives.”
In 2019, he decided to seek out therapy, and after just the first few visits, the benefits were noticeable. Since then, Krause regularly visits his therapist. Krause said he’s lucky he made that connection when he did. With unprecedented challenges in 2020, Krause was able to navigate those tough times, in part, because of therapy. It has also led to better relationships with people close to him, including his wife and young child.
RELATED: Tips for talking about mental illness
“My therapist has been everything to me in 2020,” Krause said. “I was severely unequipped to handle what the world threw at me — and so many of us — this year. I was tempted to make irrational short-term decisions because of the pressure and stress I was under. My therapist helped me work through those moments, putting me in a better emotional state before making serious life decisions.”
Krause also had some words of advice for others: Mental health is something we can all consciously improve.
RELATED: Read more stories like Tanner's
“We all deal with mental health, it’s our state of being,” he said. “Good mental health is critical for our happiness, our relationships, our productivity. Putting effort into improving your mental health is something I encourage everybody to do. That could be more sleep, more fresh air, or talking to somebody about your life. It could be a friend, coworker or a professional. It takes strength to open up to people. But it’s crucial to remember this: you are not alone. There are a lot of people out there who want to help you — more than you think.”
Make It OK is community campaign to reduce stigma by starting conversations and increasing understanding about mental illness. Start by learning what a mental illness really is. Then, find out what to say and not to say when someone opens up to you. You can also help others by sharing your own story to help people know they aren’t alone. Learn more about how you can get involved at MakeItOK.org/Iowa.