From Susan’s Desk
March 10, 2022

Depression is twice as prevalent in women as men.  Common risk factors that contribute to this include domestic violence, sexual assault, lower socioeconomic status due to income disparities, the constant stress of being a care giver, and other life events.  March 8th was International Women’s Day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women, but at Josselyn, we laud some amazing women and for their work to advance Josselyn’s mission of Mental health for all.

 

Michelle Obama is an advocate for Mental Health First Aid, the evidence-based training and certification that teaches participants about the signs and symptoms of a mental health crisis and how to refer people to help.  First Lady Obama stated, “I went through some of this training [MHFA] a few weeks ago…and I saw just how useful it is. It really gives you the skills you need to identify and ultimately help someone in need. Because you never know when these kinds of skills might be useful.” Josselyn is a certified training site for MHFA and we are most grateful to Michelle Obama for her advocacy. ©World Bank Photo Collection

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Carrie Fisher was Hollywood’s most outspoken spokesperson before her death in 2016.  I admire her because she destigmatized mental health through jokes and humor, often poking fun at herself and her illness in a disarming way that helped others realize they were not alone.  I once met Ms. Fisher at a fundraiser for bipolar disorder research, and she had the room in stitches as she regaled all the great things about bipolar disorder.  When WebMD asked her how it felt to be a “poster child” for bipolar disorder, she replied: “Well, I am hoping to get the centerfold in Psychology Today.”

I had the honor of working with Glenn Close when she launched her anti-stigma non-profit Bring Change to Mind in 2010 with the release of her PSA in Grand Central Station, directed by Ron Howard.

A dozen years ago, it was considered incredibly brave for a celebrity of her stature to step out in such a public way.  It was her love for her sister that compelled her. Her advocacy has helped so many people.

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©Secretaria Especial do Esporte

I wrote about Simone Biles back in the summer of 2021 and I sing her praises again.  She endured sexual abuse while pursuing a sport that let her and hundreds of other women down as it ignored for years the horrific abuses of its pedophilic team doctor.  She had the bravery to say enough! Prior to the Summer 2021 Olympics, the thought of stepping back to take care of one’s mental health was rare and inconceivable to many, but 18 months later she is even more respected for her ground-breaking decision.

Kay Redfield Jamison, Ph.D., is the Dalio Professor in Mood Disorders and Psychiatry at the John Hopkins School of Medicine and is the recipient of the MacArthur Foundation Genius Award.  Her many books include, An Unquiet MindTouched With Fire and Manic-Depressive Illness, co-authored with psychiatrist Frederick Goodwin, and considered a classic textbook on bipolar disorder.  Her insight and genius on the subject are attributed not only to her intellect, but as a trained scientist and someone who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder as a young adult, she was able to astutely study and articulate the illness quite unlike others before her.


©Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions

Last, but certainly not least, I want to celebrate all the women at Josselyn!  I’m truly honored to work with such passionate and compassionate people.  People like Pam Martin, Board Chair, who leads our organization with grace and intellect, and is a constant source of support for me.  Laci Gatewood, COO, is one of Crain’s 2022 Notable Executives of Color in Healthcare. Maggie Nash, aka the Energizer Bunny, runs our Mental Health First Aid training, Camp Neeka, the Junior Board, AND is a therapist.  Wanda Irby-Coleman, Revenue Cycle Manager, fights for every last dollar we are owed by MCOs… and I mean EVERY LAST CENT!  Ana Ferraz, Clinical Supervisor, CEU Coordinator and Therapist, is one of the most thoughtful, conscientious women of the highest integrity that I have ever met.

Thank you to these and all the many other women bringing us a bit closer to our vision of Mental health for all, each and every day.

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