Skip to main content

In Focus

Someone You Know: Facing the Opioid Crisis Together – How Digital Tools Can Increase Inclusion in Recovery

By February 9, 2023February 14th, 2023Health Priorities
Someone You Know: Facing the Opioid Crisis Together - Murphy Jensen

In the first episode of season 3 of the Someone You Know: Facing the Opioid Crisis Together podcast, I invite former U.S. professional tennis player and French Open champion Murphy Jensen to discuss his experience with substance misuse, the life-changing moment when he decided to accept help after hitting rock bottom, and his motivation to create WEconnect, an online mobile service designed to help others in recovery.

Content warning: This post discusses suicidal feelings, opioid use, opioid treatment, and physical and psychological trauma, which may be triggering for some listeners. Listener discretion is advised.
 
Listen to our conversation here:

Icon: Listen on Apple Podcasts

Icon: Listen on Google Podcasts

Icon: Listen on Spotify

A full transcript of the episode is also available below.

Season 3, Episode 1 Show Notes

Below you will find some of our favorite quotes from this episode, sources that were mentioned, and a segment breakdown. Thank you for listening!

Quotes

On managing personal doubts despite experiencing professional success…

And my outsides were the best in the world in that moment. Everything that we had worked for as a family and my instincts to achieve these things. But in that moment, I felt really alone and really scared. Would I measure up? Was I enough? Did I have what it takes? I just proved I have what it takes…And I still get those feelings today, but now I have tools to deal with them.”

On hitting rock bottom…

“Another great moment was probably the greatest moment of my life. You know, at the time I didn’t think it was a great moment, was the birth of my first son, Billy, while playing the U.S. Open. I was at a jumping-off place and I was considering jumping out of the window of my hotel in New York City while playing the U.S. Open. And instead of doing that, I somehow crash landed and ended up in a hotel room on Sunset Strip. And my son was born in Los Angeles, and I didn’t think I had much to live for. And instead of the hotel manager calling the police, he called an interventionist at 3 in the morning, and he asked if I was willing to get help. And by the grace of some divine intelligence, I had the willingness to say ‘yes’.”

On his near-death experience…

“I am white as a ghost on the tennis court. The ambulance arrives, they throw me in, they shock me two more times. By the time I get to the hospital, there was a pulse. They induced me into a coma for seven days. And at that moment, with my brother and my wife sitting by my coma, I see myself and sometimes I am not sure if I’m really here…And so, I came out and I, I got that I have been given another chance and I am still here. My mantra is, I am here, I am home, I am alive, I am here in my body…The greatest gift of my life has been my recovery. I’m not saying it because of the context of this show, but it is. I have no family, I have no Murphy, I have nothing without my recovery. And organizations like the IBC Foundation saved my life.”

On how WEconnect helps those in recovery…

“WEconnect Health Management is a health care technology platform…it’s a mobile application that’s there to support anyone seeking help from mental health challenges, substance use disorder, anxiety, depression, you name it.”

On how Jensen’s personal experience shaped his desire to help others in similar situations…

“It’s got to be okay for things not to be okay. And I’m living proof that this is not only treatable, but these conditions are also preventable. Had I had access to services like WEconnect, where anonymously and confidentially in the workplace, you know, we are now serving employers. We’ve been serving health plans and health insurance companies and their members.”

Episode Segment Breakdown

0:00 – 3:18: Jensen talks about growing up in a tennis family in Northern Michigan, as well as his rise to international fame in the tennis world.

3:19 – 04:08: Despite his early success and fame in the international tennis world, Jensen wrestled with anxiety and insecurity that he didn’t measure up.

4:09 – 5:30: Jensen discusses the moment he hit rock bottom while playing the U.S. Open, and that pivotal moment when an interventionist asked him if he would accept help.

5:31 – 7:52: Jensen recounts his brush with death and how that experience shaped his outlook on life.

7:53 – 12:35: Jensen discusses the evolution of WEconnect, and how he and his co-founder leveraged technology to create a mobile app that supports those seeking help for mental health challenges and substance use disorder.

12:36 – 13:39: Jensen talks about his upcoming documentary, Born to Serve, which aims to destigmatize addiction and mental health concerns. He also reflects on his growth as a person and as an individual in recovery.

13:40 – 17:12: Jensen and I discuss the impact of the Someone You Know podcast.

Additional Resources

Catch the Latest Episode

The Someone You Know podcast shares personal stories of bravery, empowerment, and recovery. Subscribe now or download from your favorite podcast player to hear inspiring stories that challenge stigma and humanize the disease of addiction. Now available on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, and iHeartRadio.

Full Transcript

Season 3, Episode 1 Transcript: How Digital Tools Can Increase Inclusion in Recovery

Heather Major:

Opioid addiction is a National Public Health crisis. That affects individuals and their families regardless of their age, race or income

The statistics are overwhelming. More than 130 people die from opioid addiction every day, but there is hope that recovery is possible. The information contained in these podcasts is solely for informational purposes and should not replace advice from a medical provider when making health care decisions.

This podcast contains opinionated content and may not reflect the opinions of any organization this podcast is affiliated with. We will discuss opioid use and opioid treatment which may be triggering for some listeners. Listener discretion is advised.

In season three we will be exploring the meaning of inclusive recovery and today on someone you know we are joined by Murphy Jenson. Murphy is a former professional tennis player, substance use disorder advocate, and co-founder and Executive Vice President of corporate development for We Connect Health Management.

On this episode we discuss murphy’s background and recovery journey, Murphy’s experience and how he is using modern technology to encourage and support people in their recovery journey via his company We Connect and the importance self-care plays in one’s recovery journey. I’m your host Heather Major, and this is “Someone You Know.”

I thought I’d start with some maybe a look back to a go forward.

Heather Major:

Great moments in Murphy Jenson’s life, want to run me through them?

Murphy Jensen:

Great moments in my life. First I got to I can’t say that can’t miss out on being born. I mean that was that was a starting place. I was raised on a Christmas tree farm in northern Michigan. I had an older brother named Luke and twin sisters that were younger, Rachel and Rebecca. Some say that I was raised by wolves, but the truth is, I was raised by amazing parents and an amazing community in northern Michigan.

Murphy Jensen:

That’s important to say, because I believe the success, I’ve had in life is a direct result of the community I was raised in. And in my first life, I was, I became a tennis player.

Murphy Jensen:

I think one of the greatest moments that I did not even know was we ended up being tennis players, our whole family. All of us played on the grand slam level, and tennis at a young age was taking me places. It was taking me on a national level by the age of 11, on an international level by the age of 13. I was one of the best in the world by 18 in the game of doubles and top five in the world.

 Murphy Jensen:

And as a singles player, my peers were Agassi, Sampras, Courier, Chang, Wade and Washington, MaliVai, Washington. We had Boris Becker, Stefan Edberg. These were all guys that I was competing with and having fun with at a young age. We’re all children and that grew up to do some cool things. And in 1993, my brother and I won the French Open and it was a childhood dream that we play together as a family and we did it.

Murphy Jensen:

One of my first calls from winning that was from Andre Agassi. And why that was monumental to this discussion is, I sat in the locker room and my hands were shaking and I didn’t know why.

Murphy Jensen:

And my outsides were the best in the world in that moment. Everything that we had worked for as a family and my instincts to achieve these things. But in that moment I felt really alone and really scared. Would I measure up? Was I enough? Did I have what it takes? I just proved I have what it takes.

Murphy Jensen:

And I still get those feelings today, but now I have tools to deal with them. Another great moment was probably the greatest moment of my life. You know, at the time I didn’t think it was a great moment was the birth of my first son, Billy, while playing the U.S. Open. I was at a jumping off place and I was considering jumping out of the window of my hotel in New York City while playing the U.S. Open.

Murphy Jensen:

And instead of doing that, I somehow crash landed and ended up in a hotel room on Sunset Strip. And my son was born in Los Angeles, and I didn’t think I had much to live for. And instead of a hotel manager calling the police, he called an interventionist. And at 3:00 in the morning, they asked if I was willing to get help.

Murphy Jensen:

And by the grace of some divine intelligence, I had the willingness to say yes. I was beat, broken, bloodied. Enough. And I was so alone and so afraid and I got to say, those feelings didn’t just show up at the French Open or in that hotel room or a big moment. I think they started as a little boy.

Murphy Jensen:

and six months ago. You know, I have never had more to live for in my life and I had the best physical shape of my life. And I was helping my brother out in Colorado Springs.

Murphy Jensen:

And I was about to serve a tennis ball in an exhibition tennis match. And I smile at him and the lights turn off and I have a cardiac arrest. And I go back and I and I hit my head really hard on the tennis court, fractured my skull pool of blood around my head. Luckily, there are some off duty medical professionals there that rushed to my assistance.

Murphy Jensen:

They broke my ribs and sternum, gave me CPR and compressions, and my brother was screaming, “This is not your time. This is not your time. Jensen’s never quit. Jensen’s never quit. Duke needs you. Billy needs you. We all need you, Murphy.” And I’m gone. And my heart stopped for 18 minutes. So they shocked me four times with the AED, they lose me four times on the tennis court.

Murphy Jensen:

I am white as a ghost on the tennis court. The ambulance arrives they throw me in, they shock me two more times. By the time I get to the hospital, there was a pulse. They induced me into a coma for seven days. And at that moment with my brother and my wife sitting by my coma and I see myself and sometimes I am not sure if I’m really here.

Murphy Jensen:

And so, I came out and I, I got I have been given another chance and I am still here. My mantra is, I am here, I am home, I am alive, I am here in my body.

Murphy Jensen:

I’m alive, I’m awake.  The greatest gift of my life has been my recovery. I’m not saying it because of the context of this show, but it is I have no family. I have no Murphy. I have nothing without my recovery. And organizations like the IBC Foundation saved my life so.

Heather Major:

You are you and then you are you through the things you do. If you want to share with folks like what’s We Connect all about? I mean, the name is great. It certainly speaks to some of the functionality of what it does, but what is We Connect and, and take us through sort of the journey because you understand it better than most, you know, with your own lived experience and with the people on your team of I’ve also had the privilege of meeting but you also you don’t quit so you’re so Luke’s right the Jensen’s never quit.

Heather Major:

You know, a global pandemic comes and there’s more to this, this story. So, I don’t know if you want to let our listeners know what is We Connect, they need help how do they access it and then tell us about its evolution.

Murphy Jensen:

We Connect Health Management is a health care technology platform it’s a mobile application that’s there to support anyone seeking help from mental health challenges, substance use disorder, anxiety, depression, you name it.

 

Murphy Jensen:

For me, that was a monumental gift to have connected as a direct result of me being of service to my mother in law, who asked me if I’d be willing, willing to take a family friend who is in an outpatient program to a support group meeting. And I could have said, Margaret, you know what, I’m going to eat turkey.

Murphy Jensen:

It’s Thanksgiving. I’m not taking this guy to a support group meeting. He’s covered in his outpatient program. But something that really serves me is to be there for others when anybody reaches their hand out for help in spite of pumpkin pie and pumpkin pie, can wait. And I and I take this gentleman and he says, after the meeting, where did you get your tan?

Murphy Jensen:

And I said, Well, I was at Richard Branson’s island for a tennis fundraiser. And he said, a girl in my outpatient program was there who you need to meet. And so we met and she was there. Richard Branson has a bunch of entrepreneur programs. My co-founder worked in the tech space, did some work with Microsoft building out system engineering teams and things like that.

Murphy Jensen:

Things I knew nothing about. She shares with me on the whiteboard this whiteboard in wireframes how we can leverage technology. When she got out of treatment, they handed her a piece of paper. Do these 25 things for the rest of your life. And then her counselor says there’s a 95% chance you’re going to have a reoccurrence and a relapse within the first 90 days.

Murphy Jensen:

And she’s like, oh, my God, this isn’t good, because she’s in treatment and in an outpatient program herself and she doesn’t have a relapse in her head is telling her. And she used her genius brain and said, what are the drivers of relapse, lack of accountability to that piece of paper, that care plan, lack of connection, all the support she got in that inpatient program, in that outpatient program was going to leave her when she went back to the scene of the crime, went back to her home. What did her environment look like, what did her work, you know, transportation, all those things.

Murphy Jensen:

That ladder up to one’s social determinants of health. And it’s funny. Everything felt overwhelming for me. So how can we leverage these phones that everyone is using and utilizing to get through their day? And so We Connect is a platform, a mobile application.

Murphy Jensen:

And speaking of the pandemic, Daniella was genius again. She said, you know, all the support group meetings and all the places where you can get support and services are being shut down in person. So we stood up online, actually in app support group meetings and on the website and through the app. We then launched Access for All during the pandemic, which is a free version of the app that gives you access to all these news.

 

Murphy Jensen:

I think 10 to 12 meetings per day covering everything, family, grief, suicide prevention, mental health concerns. So I use this phone for everything. Why would I use it to support my recovery.

So this has been an amazing journey the last seven, eight years all I thought I had a talent for was playing tennis and my mess in so many ways and words has become my message.

Murphy Jensen:

You know, the last 12 months I’ve been doing a documentary film called Born to Serve, Born to Serve, and I’m working with an amazing production company called High Watch Media. It’s about destigmatizing, normalizing the conversation, destigmatizing addiction, mental health. You know, if I had shown up with bone cancer to the tennis world, they’d have named a court or a stadium after me.

Murphy Jensen:

We it’s got to be okay for things not to be okay. And I’m living proof that this is not only treatable, these conditions are preventable. Had I had access to services like We Connect, where anonymously and confidentially in the workplace, you know, we are now serving employers. We’ve been serving health plans and health insurance companies and their members.

Murphy Jensen:

I’m learning and I’m growing and who I was when we met four years ago has grown.

Heather Major:

I’m so lucky, first and foremost to know you and to get to continue to learn from you and grow next to you. You know, I feel like one of the greatest gifts of being the host of this podcast is certainly getting  on a platform that helps amplify the message to help break down the stigma of addiction and really dive into people’s personal narratives, which, you know, not everybody wants to go there, right?

Heather Major:

But to have yourself and others, other guests who’ve been willing to sort of be like, hey, listen. I’m going to tell you everything, you know, and I’m going to tell you a little more, because you want to reach people. And that’s been a great gift, but also a great gift in this process has just been growing my own mind, growing my own self and really figuring out me in all of this, too.

Heather Major:

And so it’s both a self-serving and selfless act, I guess, in many ways, without it being intentional that way. I mean, the intentionality is obviously to get the message out there, right? Let’s start talking to people, let’s start making sure that folks can tune in somewhere and maybe hear themselves in a story or hear something about a story that connects with them, that resonates with them, that makes them want to think differently, act differently, engage differently, speak about addiction differently see addiction differently.

 

Heather Major:

But it’s also for me, you know, getting down to these places of acceptance and of, you know, faith and spirit and help and just letting people know that there’s, there’s so much more out there than what we’re ever going to cover on this podcast. But through this podcast, you can open your mind to the next step, the next thing, the next day.

Heather Major:

The next morning. Right. Doing a Monday with us.

Murphy Jensen:

Yeah.

Heather Major:

And also just get take the small things, right? Take the small things from this. Like when Murphy Jensen reaches out. I never question what it’s for. I don’t know that it’s necessarily to keep yourself accountable for your recovery, but I know it makes me happy. Right?

Murphy Jensen:

It makes me happy, too. That’s a good deal.

Heather Major:

And I know that it’s important. Otherwise we wouldn’t you know, we wouldn’t be chatting. Right. And so it doesn’t matter where it comes from. It doesn’t matter what it’s for necessarily. It just matters that, you know, we’re there. And I think those are some of the smaller things that I hope that our listeners can take away from any of these conversations is if the big thing feels too big, then maybe it is right now.

Heather Major:

And maybe the next thing is what’s the small thing that connects with you? What’s the small thing that you can do? And rather than live that isolation and that’s a real lonely place to be and reach out, you might be surprised at who you get to connect with and where that goes.

Murphy Jensen:

Congratulations on three years this is the third year right?

Heather Major:

That’s right

Murphy Jensen:

So, let’s go, let’s make this year a Picasso of a podcast. I love you guys. Thank you

Heather Major:

Love you too, see you guys

Murphy Jensen:

Bye Heather

Heather Major:

Bye Murphy

Heather Major:

If you or someone you know is suffering from opioid addiction, please visit ibxfoundation.org/syk. The link is in our show notes below.

Disclaimers
This podcast contains opinionated content and may not reflect the opinions of any organizations this podcast is affiliated with.
This podcast is solely for informational purposes. Listeners are advised to do their own diligence when it comes to making decisions that may affect their health. Patients in need of medical advice should consult their personal health care provider. The purpose of this podcast is to educate and to inform. It is not a substitute for professional care by a doctor or other qualified medical professional.

Heather Falck Major

As the first executive director of the Independence Blue Cross Foundation (Foundation), Heather Falck Major is responsible for advancing the Foundation’s thought leadership and grantmaking to drive equity and impact health in communities across southeastern Pennsylvania. With nearly two decades of healthcare experience, first as an underwriter and more than ten years in corporate philanthropy, Heather has helped shape the strategy and programmatic direction of the Foundation since its launch.

Heather has day-to-day oversight of the Foundation’s grants administration, operations, and programmatic initiatives and the Foundation’s Institute for Health Equity, a $15 million commitment to advance health equity in our region and nation. She is responsible for Foundation communications, including managing editor and contributing author of its award-winning publications and is the host of the Foundation’s internationally reaching podcast, Someone You Know®. Heather is a member of the Corporate Engagement Advisory Committee at her alma mater, the Pennsylvania State University, and serves in advisory and committee roles for the PA Action Coalition and Urban Affairs Coalition. Heather is an inaugural member of the Leonard A. Lauder Community Care Nurse Practitioner Fellowship Advisory Board at University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing and was recently appointed to the Board of Consults for the M. Louise Fitzpatrick College of Nursing at Villanova University.

Heather resides in Philadelphia with her husband, son, and their Great Pyrenees dog.

Leave a Reply