Position/Job title: RN, LPCC, Owner/Clinician Ripple of Hope, PLLC Perinatal and Family Wellness
What prompted you to get involved with mental health causes and why do you continue to do this work?
I have been a nurse for many years and have worked in healthcare in various positions even longer. My favorite part of the job has always been sitting and talking with my patients, learning about their life. The only problem was, there was never enough time to spend with them. That was my first reason for continuing my education and becoming a counselor. The second, like many in the mental health field, I have also struggled with my own mental health especially following the birth of our first child. At that time, it was very difficult to find help. I struggled to find specialized support and resources in my area that were accessible and affordable. Often the focus is on the new baby, but it is so important that the parents and the family as a whole are cared for and supported as well. I continue to do this work because I believe in it wholeheartedly. It is true that it takes a village to raise a family, not just the children. I love being even a small part of those villages.
What has doing this work taught you?
Firstly, this work has taught me that all parents are amazing! This work has also taught me that moms are some of the strongest people I know. True strength is not “white knuckling” it or “sucking it up”. I hear so many times that clients have felt they must be “strong”, and the result of that are suffering in silence. Strong means reaching out, asking for help, building up supports and resources, and thriving.
Secondly, I’ve learned to be human. Embrace my flaws. Cliché, I know. But I feel it’s such an important and vital piece of the work I do and for the clients I serve. This may not be true for every mental health specialty, but I’m very candid about my own mental health and parenting struggles. I feel that the only way for me to personally combat the stigma is to practice what I preach. I learned from a very wise and seasoned therapist that appropriate self-disclosure goes a long way in connecting with clients on a deeper level and it is in that space, transformation happens.
When it comes to the work you have done in the mental health field, what do you feel most proud of?
I have to be honest, at first this was a hard question for me. When I think of the word proud, it brings to mind achieving a specific goal or accomplishment. I really just feel blessed and proud that I can do the work that I love. I’m proud to be a part of the process with my clients, the work they put in is phenomenal! I’m proud of connections I have made with other professionals in the field and that I have the ability to connect families to specialized resources surrounding parenting, pregnancy, and birth. I love having the ability to educate, increase awareness, participate in advocacy, and be involved in the community.
What is the biggest misconception(s) people have about mental health and/or mental illness?
One of the biggest misconceptions I hear is that seeking help for mental health concerns means that you’re weak, something is “wrong” with you, or you’re “broken”. That seeking help for mental health concerns is less important than physical health. None of this is true of course, but for these reasons many times mental health gets put on the back burner. The problem is, mental health issues aren’t like a common cold. Typically, they don’t just resolve themselves and over time can get worse if left untreated. The mind and body are inherently connected, so it would stand to reason we give them both equal attention. In our society, this is not always the case. To function optimally both the mind and the body must be cared for. Practicing this type of self-care and self-love is, in my opinion, respectable and far from weak.
What is your greatest hope when it comes to your professional mark/legacy?
My hope is that moms and families will get better mental health screening and treatment as a part of routine health care both during pregnancy and postpartum. This also includes those who have struggled with miscarriage or infertility. While this has improved over the last decade, there is still more work to be done.
I also hope that there will be higher levels of care available in all states that are specifically dedicated to maternal mental health. At last check, there are currently only 2 states with perinatal specific inpatient mental health units, and less than 15 states with perinatal specific PHP (partial hospitalization program) and or IOP (intensive outpatient) programs listed on Postpartum Support International’s resource list. I’m very excited that some of these new programs will be opening in Colorado this fall! Early and intensive intervention when necessary might just be the support someone needs to successfully “get over the hump” and every family deserves access.
What is your simplest joy?
My simplest work-related joy is just having the unique honor of hearing other’s stories. Personally, my simplest joy is a cup of hot tea and beautiful fall weather.