Headstrong Executive and US Army Bronze Star Medal Recipient Dustin Shyrock on Supporting Veterans Mental Health

What is one key message you want people to take away from the mental health conversation?

Dustin: I think the general misconception is that PTSD means you are permanently broken. It is just not the case. We know that we can save someone’s life. The only thing they need to do is show up.

“The Truth About Broken” Author and Activist Hannah Blum on Respecting People with Mental Illness

“The most crucial part is finding the right psychiatrist. There are not enough good psychiatrists in the mental health field, and that is just the truth. Find someone who sees you as an individual and will listen to your wants and needs. Many psychiatrists would put me on meds that sedated me to the extent that I could not work. I started voicing my concerns around that and did not give up my search.”

Martha Dorn, Executive Director of The Art Therapy Project, on Art Making and Talk Therapy as Medicine

“With the country in lockdown due to COVID-19, there has been an enormous increase in discussions around mental health, mindfulness and self-care. The coloring book phenomenon, while not art therapy, stems from people experiencing how using coloring books can be therapeutic in alleviating stress. The uptick in people embracing creative pastimes during this crisis, whether making art, cooking or knitting, is very encouraging as these activities help us manage our stress and improve our mood.”

Kevin Dedner, CEO of Henry Health, on the Sociological Factors and Microaggressions Impacting Black Male Mental Health

“Beyond the factors that commonly trigger mental health issues, Black men must also carry the day to day stress of being a Black man, which often presents itself unconsciously in normal activities. Black men report experiencing racial microaggressions —insults, invalidations, and interpersonal slights (subtle and sometimes unintentional) – which are linked to symptoms of anxiety and depression. Black men also suffer from impostor syndrome, a psychological pattern in which an individual doubts his accomplishments in professional settings and has a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a fraud….. My general belief is that human beings have long held the answers to how to live well. Somewhere along the way, we lost our knowledge of the importance of self-care and restorative practices that help us cope with stress. I think the loss is wrapped up in a myriad of reasons, including western work culture and increased exposure to technology. The bottom line is that we were not designed to be as busy as we are.”

Vanessa Smith, Mental Health Advocate and Urban Planner, on Using the Arts & Cross-Disciplines to Challenge Stereotypes

“One of the biggest challenges I see is how can we promote wellness alongside policies, programs, and design that address climate change? The effects of climate change and disaster response affect people differently, and communities that have been historically marginalized will feel the effects of climate change more dramatically.
I think about a scene in the movie Parasite during a heavy rain storm. One family’s home is flooded, they lose their possessions and have to spend the night in a gym with hundreds of other people affected by the storm. Another family is able to enjoy watching the storm in spacious comfort on higher ground. How does the trauma of dealing with the rain, loss of your home, and the uncertainty of tomorrow burden people? How do our urban systems, design and policies affect our wellbeing and support (or hinder) us?
hinking about the first family’s experience we could incorporate a lens of mental health into: new policy around rapid response after a disaster, retrofitting public infrastructure and housing, flood mitigation, urban design, and new types of place-based services and programs we can develop in and with our communities.”

Ayesha Barenblat, CEO of Remake, on Sustainable Fashion and Remake’s Mission to Improve the Lives of 75+ Million Women

“sustainable fashion suffers from its fair share of socioeconomic, race, and body image issues. For all of its unethical production, fast fashion brands make fashion accessible and affordable to the masses. In this way, they fuse the division between classes. Sustainable fashion, on the other hand, can be prohibitively expensive due to higher base costs that include sourcing costly eco-friendly natural materials and paying people a fair wage for sewing garments.
I am also struck by how non diverse sustainable fashion conversations and conferences are. Even though the people and communities most impacted by fashion’s decisions are people of color. While it’s encouraging to see so many of the fashion industry’s who’s who come together to talk about sustainability at these summits, we are all remiss in addressing a core truth: that the fashion industry is built on the oppression of black and brown women, an institutionalized form of racism inherited from a colonial past. “