We start with our Program Director, Melanie Vann. She is air traffic controller, podcast co-host, and host of her own show Memoirs of Madness on the network.
A trained behavioral health expert who’s innately intrigued by all that people come to endure during their lifetime, Melanie Vann has been working with Mental Health News Radio and everythingEHR since May 2015. Over the years, her role with the MHNR team has evolved considerably.
Whether she’s on-air co-hosting or behind the scenes vetting guests or writing her next blog post, Melanie draws on her years in private practice as a counselor, life coach, and equine therapist to bring to light the hottest topics of behavioral health today. For more on what makes Melanie tick—and what’s to come regarding her role at MHNR.
MHNR: Do you have a personal connection to mental health topics? From where does your passion for behavioral health topics stem?
Vann: I have always been intrigued by the human condition. I remember being sensitive to others’ emotions even in preschool. I have also had an insatiable desire for “understanding” of not just peoples’ actions or behaviors but of the world in general. I love people in general: how we interact, how we think, why some of us are artists while others architects.
Abnormal psychology was my favorite class in graduate school. It was so incredibly stimulating to me to study the DSM-V. I also befriended students who were quiet or picked on. I enjoyed getting to know them too! People are just so interesting and I love communicating with others!
MHNR: Are there any behavioral health “soft spots” that you most love talking about? If so, what are they and why are they so close to your heart?
Vann: I think I love philosophy more than psychology—I like to discuss the “human condition” as opposed to any specific diagnosis. I specialized in eating disorders for a while when in private practice. It is a difficult diagnosis to treat, but I like the challenge. You have to eat; you have to face something head on that sustains your very being.
I also like a developmental approach or psychoanalytic perspective. I love piecing the puzzle together of what has gotten a person to where they are when they come into my office. While a diagnosis is helpful, I don’t focus on it in treatment modalities. We are people and human before we are bipolar or anorexic. I liked to focus on building self-understanding and knowledge as well as self-confidence so one can get themselves out of their mental crisis. In short, tools are incredibly important to me.
MHNR: What was your anticipated role when you first joined the team?
Vann: Early on, I was expecting to do some simple social media work. I had been wanting to take a different direction in my field for years but didn’t have the skill set to do so, as I always seemed to go back to the counseling side of things. This small opportunity to do social media work has led to more than I ever anticipated.
MHNR: Has that stayed pretty true to the role you’ve played? Or has your role evolved since you’ve been at MHNR?
Vann: Immensely! I started with small marketing tasks, soon after sitting in on consulting calls with everythingEHR, where I learned more about the technology side of behavioral health. It wasn’t long before I was writing blogs, scheduling and networking, even researching and vetting guests for MHNR. Now I cohost and have a permanent role in the Empowered Empath show, and my role continues to grow to this day. I’m excited to note that I’ll soon be expanding on my already created Counselors Corner, where I will do my own interviews and blogs surrounding a more clinical side of behavioral health topics.
MHNR: Most important or otherwise beloved topic you’ve helped spread awareness on—and why?
Vann: I want to continue to spread awareness about mental health stigma. No one should ever suffer alone, and mental illness does not define you as a person. Some of our greatest artists, authors, and inventors have had some sort of mental illness. With support and appropriate care, those with mental illness have so much to offer us all. Some of my favorite topics to educate our audience about include equine therapy, autism (which my youngest son has), and overall wellness.
MHNR: Favorite part of working with the folks at MHNR?
Vann: Two words: Kristin. Walker. We have great chemistry and our personalities clicked from day one.
MHNR: Most surprising part of this gig?
Vann: The many ways in which mental health affects all areas of business, the consulting and technology side of things, is so interesting to me. The business of psychology is just as important as the clinical side when it comes to reducing stigma.
MHNR: What’s your biggest aspiration for your role here at MHNR?
Vann: I want to make a concrete contribution to the world. If one interview or sentence helps someone through their day or mental health crisis, I’ve succeeded. I would love to be able to contribute more but am waiting for a natural unveiling of things. Perhaps a book one day, or more radio shows—who knows what the future has in store.
MHNR: What’s something most readers (or listeners) might be surprised to learn about you?
Vann: I love coffee, a good book, and clothes. I grew up on a 200-acre farm in Virginia, and most of my maternal family still farms very successfully. And I’ll go to the ends of the earth to find the right gift for a friend.
MHNR: What brings you joy, both inside and outside of your professional pursuits?
Vann: Many things, really: my horses and watching my two boys in personal pursuits; having peace and balance in my home and with friends; and beauty in and of itself, whether that’s found in a person, a sunset, or a bird singing. I love Christmas and Easter, and my faith is my center.
Professionally speaking, I want to be a light and bring kindness and compassion to others. I love learning, period. There is no truer joy than true connection and conversation with others who have passion.
MHNR: And lastly, what would you most like readers (or listeners) to know about who you are and what you seek to accomplish in your role with MHNR and more broadly in your career?
Vann: I hope it comes across to listeners and readers that I’m a diplomat. I see all things from all angles, always. Of course I believe in universal truths, but rarely do I make a decision without considering all sides. I have my personal opinions, but I easily see other viewpoints and always respect those. Again, I seek out balance and harmony but will stand like no other in the purpose of justice. For readers and listeners: look for my voice to grow stronger at MHNR.
Listen to Melanie’s show on Mental Health News Radio Network here.