Tell us a little bit about yourself! You can speak about your identity, your interests, your background, the things that make you tick, the people in your life, or whatever else feels empowering for you to share so people can get to know you.My name is Emily and I'm a self-published author, mental wellness blogger, yoga teacher, and school psychologist. My favorite days are spent sipping some decaf coffee (hello, anxiety!), making an elaborate at-home brunch, hiking with our dog, reading, and watching some quality HGTV. The people in my life are very much members of what many would call a modern family. My (technically former) stepmom and my mom are the best of friends, I have one sister and several step siblings and step dads whom I love more than anything. And I am lucky enough to have friends that I call family too.
If comfortable, tell us how/why you got into the mental health field or mental health advocacy.
When I was younger, I struggled with Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder, and Major Depressive Disorder stemming from growing up in a home with a psychologically and emotionally abusive parent. I felt stuck and helpless in my situation and therapy helped me first and foremost to vent, then introduced me to empowering concepts that I had never understood applied to me before. Things like setting boundaries and being my own person outside of the roles I was assigned like child, student, girl, etc. I started to learn who I was and build myself up from what felt like complete rock bottom and I never would have thought that was possible before therapy.
I also took an introductory psychology class at my local community college during high school and loved learning about nature versus nurture, or the impact of our genetics versus the environment we are raised in, and how to help people struggling with different mental health needs. In college, I origininally planned to become a therapist myself, but after volunteering on the national suicide prevention hotline for a few months I realized that I am someone who has a hard time leaving work at work, and I found myself feeling very emotionally overwhelmed. So I pivoted and pursued school psychology. In my day-to-day, I get to help kids and their parents understand different learning styles and educational disabilities and I also aim to have a positive impact on school systems as a whole to have more equitable outcomes for all students. And I also write! (More on that in the next question)
If you are leading an organization/company in mental health or working in the field of mental health, tell us about the work you do.
In my current role as a contracting school psychologist across several districts, I primarily do special education testing and am not involved in direct mental health services for students. However, the good news is the buildings I work in all have social workers who are able to do this work with students, so rest assured kids have a great resource. However, I do make sure to write trauma-informed reports that include a student's background history and its potential impact on their learning needs. It's common for students who have significant trauma histories to be identified as having learning disabilities, when many times they need accommodations and mental health support at school to be successful.
Through my blog, MissMagnoliaSays.com, I write stories from my life that aim to inspire a sense of connection or "ah-ha" moments for the reader. I have gained so much from reading the stories of others when I was dealing with things that I had a difficult time processing or even describing, and it felt so validating to see that I wasn't alone. A portion of the sales from "Write it to Right it: The Guided Journal for Serious People with Scattered Brainthoughts," also go to different organizations that support mental health. Currently, that organization is The Loveland Foundation, an organization that aims to bring accessible therapy to black women and girls.
What is something you do or use that benefits your mental health that you want to share with others?I do a lot of things to maintain and support my mental health because I know what it feels like to feel mentally unhealthy. I do yoga, journal, pay attention to what I consume (everything from caffeine to the internet), spend time doing things that make me happy like talking to family or friends on the phone, cooking, hiking, and reading. I also don't try to fit myself in places that I'm uncomfortable in, like going to a nightclub (just writing this sentence makes me feel silly) when my natural vibe is a brewery patio and in bed by 10:30PM. That part has taken me the longest to learn - that mental health isn't always about pushing yourself to do the things others deem "normal" or "healthy," but simply figuring out what feels good to you and then doing that.
Is there anything else you want to share with the readers of this email that they would find valuable?
Yes, a very big thing: Even when the world seems unpredictable and angry and hateful, most people are good. Most people care. Most people are doing their best and it's okay to distance yourself from whatever, or whoever, drains you. People can change, I do believe that's true, but it's never your responsibility to sit and wait for change or endure bad behavior just because you remain hopeful. Do what makes you feel alive and joyful. Nix all the other shit.