Routine exercise: It’s critical for me to stay in shape and active. I run 2–3 miles daily and lift weights every other day to stay in conditioned shape. This goes a long way to helping me stay mentally balanced.
I had the pleasure of interviewing David Scotney. He was born and raised on the brackish waters of the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland. He developed as a visual artist in his early teens and studied painting and graphic design at the Maryland Institute College of Art & Design and eventually graduated from the University of Maryland with a BA in the Arts. After moving to Chicago his band, Janus further developed their songwriting skills working with producers and touring locally. Meanwhile, David worked for several of the top advertising agencies in Chicago as an art director and eventually started his own firm called Reach Creative which still exists today. Janus eventually signed with Warner Brothers Records and released two albums and garnered radio attention for singles on both whiles constantly touring. David took a hiatus at the end of the second album cycle and explored his passion for the art and hand-crafted tradition of Neapolitan pizza making and launched the brand Oakfire Pizza Napoletana in Lake Geneva WI. The brand is expanding to more locations and meanwhile, David has re-ignited the Janus brand with a laser focus on raising money and awareness for good causes. Ranging from mental health awareness to social problems within the Native American community to name a few. David has always been an artist and putting his passion behind bringing art, music and now real social change through music to the world is his focus in 2019.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to this specific career path?
So I started Music For Good to bring together my passion for music and my passion for giving back to the community to make a difference. I love how music has the power to story tell and inspire people. I was motivated to bring the two together because by giving my music inspiration a surgical type of focus on a topic I care about allows me to be creative and at the same time shine a light on something that has the potential to benefit humanity. The opportunity to raise money for charity is another huge opportunity I’m excited about. That has the power to also make real change in the world.
According to Mental Health America’s report, over 44 million Americans have a mental health condition. Yet there’s still a stigma about mental illness. Can you share a few reasons you think this is so?
I believe there is still a stigma out there because changing the human perception around topics that don’t have a lot of focus within our education system takes time. Until mental health is taught in our school systems the same way other health and other sciences I think we’re going to continue to face the challenge of changing perceptions.
Can you tell our readers about how you are helping to de-stigmatize the focus on mental wellness?
My hope is to shine a light on some statistics that people may not know about and simply start a conversation. I’ve found that within my own circles of friends and colleagues that when I start telling people about my experiences and this effort that almost everyone has a story they share with me. “Oh yea, we’re all pretty sure my uncle had it…” or “Yup my father was a horrible alcoholic and we think it’s because he was bipolar..”. So just the fact I can make someone comfortable to talk about it starts to move the needle. The more it’s discussed the more we have an opportunity to educate ourselves and the better chance someone might get diagnosed that may have gotten overlooked.
Was there a story behind why you decided to launch this initiative?
I actually took a break from playing music after the last iteration of Janus and was focusing on studying the craft of Neapolitan pizza making as well as running a design firm. I had lost a client and was pretty depressed about it right around the Holidays and just simply picked up my guitar after not playing for quite a while and channeled that emotional energy into the start of this project.
In your experience, what should a) individuals b) society, and c) the government do to better support people suffering from mental illness?
I keep going back to education. It would be ideal if mental health and wellness were given the same attention in our schools as other sciences and health topics so that we bring up the next generation with a strong foundation of the fundamentals of mental health.
What are your 6 strategies you use to promote your own wellbeing and mental wellness? Can you please give a story or example for each?
I’m not sure I have 6 specific strategies but I have learned a lot about what’s important for me to stay balanced.
1. Routine exercise: It’s critical for me to stay in shape and active. I run 2–3 miles daily and lift weights every other day to stay in conditioned shape. This goes a long way to helping me stay mentally balanced.
2. Diet: I try to eat very healthy and only consume the number of calories I know I can burn. Diet is a big part of staying mentally balanced.
3. I have to stay creative, either drawing or singing or songwriting or making hand-made Neapolitan pizzas. I’m an artist and keeping the faucet running is critical to my happiness.
4. Freewriting is sort of journaling except it’s all disposable and deleted as soon as it’s completed. It’s a way to let your mind expel any garbage and allows you to purge feelings, complaints whatever and not have to worry who might read it. It’s very liberating and cleansing.
5. Organizing and planning my day the night before is key to keeping my days organized and my mental state of mind organized.
6. Getting up early, I am most productive super early in the morning so staying on a routine where I’m up at 4 am is key for my creative process.
What are your favorite books, podcasts, or resources that inspire you to be a mental health champion?
The work the JED Foundation is doing is inspiring as well as NAMI. Great organizations creating real change in the world.