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Lived Experience Informed Workplace Mental Health Strategies – Part 2: How to Co-Design a Comprehensive Approach Interview with James Hill |

In this “Part 2” episode, he talks about his work helping the energy sector develop a comprehensive mental health promotion and suicide prevention strategy — through the lens of his lived expertise.

In the previous “Part 1” episode James Hill shared his story of surviving suicidal intensity and becoming a national change agent for workplace wellbeing.

About James Hill
James Hill is a passionate Mental Health Advocate, by using his own lived experience and education he has influenced positive change regarding mental ill-health and suicide prevention in both the workplace and broader community. His background was in the electricity industry before he changed his life direction to follow his passion, developing and successfully implementing a workplace Mental Health Advocate role. He is also a public speaker for a mental health charity and Ambassador for the Australian and New Zealand Mental Health Association.

His achievements in the mental health sector have earned him the Individual Contribution to Mental Health Award in Queensland Australia, along with the Large Workplace Mental Health Award. In addition, he was a finalist in the LiFE Suicide Prevention Awards and a Finalist for the Queensland Local Hero category in the Australian of the Year awards.

Lived Experience Informed Workplace Mental Health Strategies – Part 1: Interview with James Hill | Episode 109

About James Hill
James Hill is a passionate Mental Health Advocate, by using his own lived experience and education he has influenced positive change regarding mental ill-health and suicide prevention in both the workplace and broader community. His background was in the electricity industry before he changed his life direction to follow his passion, developing and successfully implementing a workplace Mental Health Advocate role. He is also a public speaker for a mental health charity and Ambassador for the Australian and New Zealand Mental Health Association.

His achievements in the mental health sector have earned him the Individual Contribution to Mental Health Award in Queensland Australia, along with the Large Workplace Mental Health Award. In addition, he was a finalist in the LiFE Suicide Prevention Awards and a Finalist for the Queensland Local Hero category in the Australian of the Year awards.

Strengthening Suicide Prevention Efforts through Caring for the Caregivers: Interview with Johanna Louie | Episode 108

Did you know?

More than half of all adults know someone who has fought suicidal intensity (Harris Poll). When it comes to caregiving – suicide is different. Ample research about caregiving stress exists, but often this is underestimated when the caregiving role is about suicide. Thus, there is a gap in awareness, support and resources.

Our guest, Johanna Louie and her co-founder Daniela Zanich sought to fill that gap with www.SuicideIsDifferent.org — free digital resources that put the needs of the caregiver at the center of the conversation.

About Johanna Louie

Johanna Louie is a licensed social worker passionate about caring for caregivers. She holds Master’s Degrees in Social Work from Columbia University and Applied Psychology from the University of Southern California. In 9+ years of working in suicide prevention, she has served in roles like crisis line manager and mental health therapist, and directed clinical training programs. In 2018, she co-founded Suicide Is Different with Daniela Zanich which aimed to address gaps in resources for caregivers who are supporting someone experiencing suicidal thoughts. To date, Suicide Is Different’s online modules have been used by over 18k people in 15+ countries. For more information on this episode go to https://www.sallyspencerthomas.com/hope-illuminated-podcast/108

Opportunities in Intersectionality – Race, Gender, Sexuality, Ability & Mental Health: Interview with Emily Unity | Episode 107

We all have multiple identity markers that make us uniquely us and that shape our lives and experiences. When it comes to understanding our experiences with mental health, appreciating these influences helps us better understand our strengths in well-being, our disparities in exposure to harm, and differences in barriers to and opportunities for support. When we see mental health in this context, new frameworks and needs emerge:

Intersectionality is an identity strength rather than being an “other” or “not being enough” of one identity

Representation in and accessibility to mental health services and supports matter greatly>

Exploration and self-investigation into identity is often key to personal and community resilience.

When people identify as “bi” (e.g., biracial, bisexual) or “multi” or are moving in between identities (e.g., immigrants, refugees, gender transitioning) can also have unique challenges and opportunities to well-being. When they sometimes find themselves in a “betwixt/between” state, they find they are not fully embraced by one identity or even rejected outright. This experience of disconnection can cause distress.

In this podcast, Emily Unity invites us to sit in the in between and get comfortable being uncomfortable.

About Emily Unity
Emily Unity (she/they) is a mental health professional, software developer, and multidisciplinary creative. They are also a queer, culturally diverse, and neurodiverse young person. Emily endeavors to use both their professional and lived experience to help design a world for all people, regardless of background, identity, or neurodiversity.

https://www.emilyunity.com/

https://www.emilyunity.com/mentalhealth

For More information on this episode please visit https://www.sallyspencerthomas.com/hope-illuminated-podcast/107

People with Disabilities and Suicide Prevention — A Human Rights Conversation: Interview with Sheryl Boswell and Lisa Morgan | Episode 106

Mental Health, Social Justice, Suicide Grief, Suicide Prevention, Well-Being
People who live with disabilities (e.g., physical, intellectual, mental health and neuro-divergent) often face a range of social and economic adversaries including discrimination and prejudice that impacts their ability to work, get educated, and live in safe homes and communities. These disadvantages consequently impact the mental health and well-being of this diverse community. In this episode I interview two international leaders in the conversation on suicide prevention among people living with disabilities. Sheryl Boswell, from Toronto, is the Director of Youth Mental Health Canada and Lisa Morgan is the Co-Chair of the Autism and Suicide committee of the American Association of Suicidology.

MILNER ET AL (2019) THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN DISABILITY AND SUICIDE
Mental health speaker, suicide prevention speaker
About Sheryl Boswell
Sheryl Boswell is an educator, teaching elementary, secondary, postsecondary, and adult education students in Canada and Africa. She is the Director of Youth Mental Health Canada, a charitable nonprofit organization focused on youth, family, and community engagement for mental health education, support, advocacy, and change. She is a suicide loss survivor who has contributed to provincial and national change in education to support students with mental health disabilities.

About Lisa Morgan
Mental health speaker, suicide prevention speaker
Lisa Morgan (she/her/hers) is a self-advocate and consultant in crisis support and suicide prevention for autistic people. Lisa is founder and co-chair of the Autism and Suicide committee of the American Association of Suicidology. She is a community council member of AASET (Autistic Adults and other Stakeholders Engaged Together). Lisa has a master’s degree in the Art of Teaching and is a board certified autism specialist. She is a peer reviewer of the online journal, Autism in Adulthood, feature writer of the online magazine, Spectrum Women, and the author of several books about crisis supports for autistic people. Lisa owns Lisa Morgan Consulting LLC at www.autismcrisissupport.com. For more information about this episode please go to https://www.sallyspencerthomas.com/hope-illuminated-podcast/106

Poetry as an Antidote to Burnout: A Nurse's Perspective on Healing Practices

Burnout – Causes and Cures
Burnout is costly to employers in several ways:

Employee turnover

Increased risk of worker injury or error

Deteriorating culture as energy becomes misdirected toward scapegoating

Contrary to conventional wisdom, burnout is not solely related to workload, it’s also related to feeling like “a cog in a machine.” When an unsustainable workload becomes even more stressful due to a lack of clarity, lack of control and an effort-reward imbalance, relationships become strained and people become siloed.

According to leading researchers, burnout is identified when three psychological states exist:

High levels of cynicism: an indifference, negative perspective

High levels of exhaustion: emotional, spiritual and physical

Low levels of professional efficacy: the belief in ones ability to make a difference.

Burnout can creep into a workplace and worsen over time. It often starts with an erosion of engagement. Work shifts from important, interesting and meaningful to exhausting. Next comes the erosion of emotions, where cynicism, anger, anxiety and depression start to surface. Finally, burned out workers comes to experience a mismatch between themselves and the organization. They lose faith that the organization has their best interests at heart.

In this episode, I have a delightful conversation with Susan Farese, RN – a healthcare worker and mentor, a Veteran, a poet and photographer and the owner of PR firm “SJF Communications.” We talk about how burnout is taking its toll on our healthcare teams, and how she uses poetry, among other tools to cope.

About Susan Farese

Susan J. Farese, MSN, RN, a native of New Jersey, is the owner/ president of SJF Communications, San Diego, CA.

SJF Communications, originally established in 2002 in San Jose, CA, provides communications services including Public Relations, Publicity, Marketing, Websites, Filmmaking, Acting, Social Media, Writing and Public Speaking, Photography, Mentoring, Coaching and Legal Nurse Consulting services.

Ms. Farese has diversified experience in health care/communications, including clinical nursing practice, management, education/training, research and consulting.

She has a Masters Degree in Nursing in Adult Health from Seton Hall University (NJ) and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing from Widener University (PA).

Susan has presented numerous continuing education classes, seminars, and keynotes. Susan is the author of the book Poetic Expressions in Nursing…Sharing the Caring (1993 and 2021), currently teaches ‘Capturing Your Creativity with Haiku’ workshops and has published poetry and articles on a variety of topics.

In addition to her being on the advisory board of San Diego Film Week, Susan is a member of SAG-AFTRA, American Legion Post 43, Veterans in Media & Entertainment, San Diego Writers Ink the San Diego Press Club, the Southern California Writers Association, and the Army Nurse Corps Association.

Since 2017, Susan has been a Volunteer Mentor in the San Diego State University Aztec Mentor Program. for more information on this episode please go to https://www.sallyspencerthomas.com/hope-illuminated-podcast/105

Shoebox of Memories — Reflections on Hierarchies of Grief, Decades after Losing a Classmate to Suicide: Interview with Candace Opper | Epis

What do we mean by “disenfranchised grief.” It’s when your experience of grief is different than the general cultural attitudes about “justified” pain regarding death and loss or “acceptable” mourning practices. Being out of “the norm” in your grief experience often tend to exacerbate the pain as people can feel very alone.

In this conversation, Candace Opper talks about her experience losing a childhood acquaintance to suicide and how this event stayed with her for decades.

About Candace Opper
Suicide Prevention, Mental Health, Keynote Speaker, Depression, resilience, burnout, grief, psychological safety, training, strategy
Candace Jane Opper is a writer, a mother, and a visual artist. She is the author of Certain and Impossible Events, an investigative memoir about the lasting impact of adolescent suicide, selected by Cheryl Strayed for the Kore Press Memoir Award. Her writing has appeared in Guernica, Longreads, Narratively, Literary Hub, Brevity, Creative Nonfiction, Bright Wall/Dark Room, and Vestoj, among others. She holds an MFA in creative writing from Portland State University and is the recipient of a Creative Nonfiction Fellowship. She grew up in the woods of Southern Connecticut and now lives in Pittsburgh with her husband and son.

Workplace Violence Prevention – A Holistic Approach: Interview with Faith Kohler | Episode 103

Where were you on April 20th, 1999?

Many of us watched in horror that day as the news unfolded about of the Columbine School shootings. At the time I was working for a police psychology private practice about two miles from Columbine. What many don’t know about me is that before my brother died, my area of expertise was violence prevention because of this tragedy and our group’s response. My mentor Dr. John Nicoletti, I and others subsequently published two books:

Violence Goes to School

Violence Goes to College

After Carson died by suicide in 2004, I distanced myself from this work as the general public’s connection between mental health conditions and community violence was one I did not want to reinforce.

When I met Faith Kohler, however, the conversations about violence prevention, specifically workplace violence prevention resumed. In this conversation Faith Kohler talk about a holistic and multidisciplinary approach to mitigating and preventing workplace violence and our belief that trust and psychological safety are essential in any effective process.

About Faith Kohler, JD

Faith Kohler, J.D. is a licensed attorney and former federal agent with vast experience in risk and harm prevention. Throughout her law enforcement and private sector career Faith received national recognition for the creation of innovative, prevention-focused programs. The organizations she served include the U.S. Postal Service as well as cross-industry Fortune 500 companies. Her work enables organizations to address risk and build safer workplace culture using a holistic, multi-disciplinary approach. Her program architecture factors in enhanced employee experience, from physical to psychological safety; interventional response; improved collaboration between departments that reduces organizational and human risk; improved organizational mindset and employees behaviors for a safer, more preventive workplace culture.

Faith is a mom to three grown sons and a feisty Jack Russell Terrier. She is also a published author, visual artist and social practice filmmaker. A frequent panelist and speaker on issues related to homelessness, violence prevention and other critical social issues, Faith uses her art as a platform to spark community conversations and change. She holds a B.A. from Wellesley College and a J.D. from Marquette University Law School. When not traveling she divides her time between Miami, FL and Milwaukee, WI.

Faith Kohler’s Violence Prevention Website: http://www.faithkohler.us/

Faith Kohler’s artwork: https://www.faithkohlerartist.com/

Emotionally Naked — How Can Caring Adults Prevent Youth Suicide?: Interview with Dr. Kim O'Brien | Episode 102

Did you know “adverse childhood experiences” (otherwise known as “ACEs”), are connected to later life suicide. According to the CDC, the following potentially traumatic childhood experiences are connected to many life threatening health risks:

experiencing violence, abuse, or neglect

witnessing violence in the home or community

having a family member attempt or die by suicide

substance use problems

mental health problems

instability due to parental separation

household members being in jail or prison

About 61% of adults surveyed have experienced at least one type of ACE. The more ACEs a child experiences, the more likely they will have later life consequences like “injury, sexually transmitted infections, maternal and child health problems (including teen pregnancy, pregnancy complications, and fetal death), involvement in sex trafficking, and a wide range of chronic diseases and leading causes of death such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and suicide.” ACEs are what are known as “social determinants of health” and cause toxic stress in young people that impact their ability to pay attention, make decisions and form stable relationships.

The Good News

The strongest buffer for kids is a relationship with at least one loving, caring, responsive adult – a family member, a teacher, a coach, a mentor.

Having a source of reliable nurturing protects them from further harm and helps them develop self-regulation skills. In addition a healthy child-adult relationship gives them a sense of safety in the storm and a glimmer of hope for things to come.

In this episode I speak with Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, Dr. Kimberly O’Brien about how our youth can feel “emotionally naked” and how caring adults can help provide does of support that fuel resilience and self-esteem, and ultimately prevent suicide.

About Kimberly Hayes McManama O’Brien, Ph.D., LICSW

Kimberly O’Brien, PhD, LICSW is a Clinical Social Worker in the Sports Medicine Division and Female Athlete Program at Boston Children’s Hospital, as well as a Research Scientist and Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.

She is also the co-author of Emotionally Naked: A Teacher’s Guide to Preventing Suicide and Recognizing Students at Risk with Anne Moss Rogers.

Her research focuses on the development and testing of brief interventions for suicidal adolescents with and without substance use and their families, with an additional specialization on interventions which utilize technology. She has co-authored over 50 articles and book chapters related to adolescent suicide, substance use, and mental health, and was awarded the Young Investigator Research Award from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention in 2019.

She recently started her own private mental health practice, Unlimited Resilience, LLC, which was designed for athletes by athletes.

For more information on this episode go tp https://www.sallyspencerthomas.com/hope-illuminated-podcast/102

A Different Drummer — Mental Health, Diversity and Inclusion and Corporate Wellness: Interview with Mike Veny | Episode 101

Did you know?
9 our of 10 employers are investing more in mental health benefits than they ever have before (source: https://www.aihr.com/blog/workplace-wellness-trends/).

Concerns about burnout, employee churn, and psychological emergencies have led workplaces to developing a more comprehensive and proactive mental health and suicide prevention strategy.

Benefits like coaching, tele-mental health, personalized wellness plans and stress management tools are becoming increasingly popular for large employers.

In addition, workplaces are starting to shift away from reactive, downstream approaches to more proactive prevention. They are focusing on building caring cultures and psychological safety and they are connecting the dots between DEI (Diversity, Equity and Inclusion) work and mental health.

In this conversation, I speak with Mike Veny, a man who has been living these connections and is now training workplaces on how best to support their workers.

For more information on this episode go to https://www.sallyspencerthomas.com/hope-illuminated-podcast/101

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