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Dr. Mateusz (Matt) Grzesiak: “Avoid toxicity at all costs”

Governments should fund mental health more because of the staggering difference between the cost of mental health disorders and spending on research. In the United Kingdom, mental health receives 13 percent of the funding but accounts for 23 percent of its economic burden. Society needs to fight the stigma by adopting a zero-tolerance policy for […]


Governments should fund mental health more because of the staggering difference between the cost of mental health disorders and spending on research. In the United Kingdom, mental health receives 13 percent of the funding but accounts for 23 percent of its economic burden. Society needs to fight the stigma by adopting a zero-tolerance policy for mental illness stigma. Individuals who have a mental illness should first know they are not alone. Twenty-five percent of Americans experience a mental health problem at some point in their lives. They should look for professional help and know that they can be helped.


As a part of our series about mental health champions, I had the pleasure of interviewing Mateusz Grzesiak — “Dr. Matt” — an internationally recognized psychologist, author, trainer and coach who has touched the hearts and transformed the minds of millions worldwide. He communicates in 7 languages and has nearly 18 years of comprehensive experience in the training industry, received his master’s degree in law, psychology and a PhD in management. He did not stop there — instead, he continuously improves his expertise in psychology and self-development and is currently studying at the University of Southern California and pursuing another PhD from WSB University in Poland.

As a motivational speaker, Dr. Matt has participated in numerous conferences, appearing alongside Robert Cialdini, Brian Tracy, and Tony Robbins. He has spent over 20,000 hours teaching others, including through his Mixed Mental Arts training model. MMA is a unique, comprehensive model to build soft communication skills in all aspects of personal and business life, such as marketing, self-realization, management, and spirituality.


Thank you so much for joining us Dr. Matt! Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to this specific career path?

My journey started almost 40 years ago living in a country under an oppressive regime, and in an abusive household. Resources were limited, so much so that we only had oranges once a year, as a special treat on Christmas. That was the reality of living in Poland, what is now a formerly communist country. We lived in constant fear — I learned as a kid that when someone was knocking on the door, it could be police, and they could arrest my parents for no reason. My family didn’t make it any easier, I grew up in an abusive household. Criticism, threat, abuse and anxiety were my daily bread throughout my childhood. Because of that, I grew up feeling unloved and with a deeply rooted belief that something is wrong with me, that I do not deserve success. But when you are a kid living like this, you have no other choice but to cope, because there is nothing else you can do. In search for solutions and as a way to escape, I got interested in psychology and learning. I would read every day, and it didn`t really matter if it was Russian poetry, German philosophy or American psychology –I read everything I could put my hands on. By helping and educating myself, I was able to help and teach others in similar situations.

According to Mental Health America’s report, over 44 million Americans have a mental health condition. Yet there’s still a stigma around mental illness. Can you share a few reasons you think this is so?

This is a sad yet very accurate observation. Due to lack of knowledge and fear, people develop stereotypical thinking not based on science. The depiction of mental illness in mass media is rarely factual and fuels stigmas. Culture with its belief systems has its share too — what in Western populations is considered mental illness, some populations define as evil spirits. Some others minimize the problem due to lack of understanding. People with a mental health condition can also fear the consequences of exposure. According to research conducted by Ipsos MORI, 28 percent of surveyed Canadian men believe they risk their job talking about mental health issues at work. More than 33 per cent of men think they could not be considered for a promotion if they mention a problem. People with mental problems are also more isolated from others, a phenomenon labeled by U.S. Surgeon General as social distancing.

Can you tell our readers about how you are helping to de-stigmatize the focus on mental wellness?

As a psychologist and coach helping people with their personal and professional development, I’ve dedicated my career to educating people about mental wellness. Through my work with individual clients, the books I’ve written and my seminars, I’ve been debunking myths and spreading awareness that is hopefully popularizing factual knowledge while also providing educational tools for people and families affected by mental illness. I created a specific set of tools that are necessary to achieve what you want in life and these are called Mixed Mental Arts. On the basis of scientific research and almost 20 years of professional experience of working with people and companies all over the world, I created this model. It describes which specific skills need to be mastered in order to obtain results in professional and personal life. The first area is management and it encompasses skills of leading and organizing. Charisma, time management, team building — it’s all there, and If you want to succeed, you will need them both. The second is spirituality — it tells you how to connect and witness. Without these skills, your ego will drive the bus of your life and you’ll have trouble creating authentic, meaningful relationships. The third is marketing — all about persuasion and communication. If you want to convince your kids to stop spending so much time playing computer games or convince your boss to give you a raise, you need specific tools. The fourth area of the model is personal growth — this is where you immerse in the skills of learning and coaching. I have used Mixed Mental Arts to coach CEO’s of Fortune 500 companies and teach regular people from all walks of life.

Was there a story behind why you decided to launch this initiative?

Rather a sad realization that this is a global problem. Out of an estimated 450 million people who suffer from mental health maladies, more than 60 percent do not get any care. Some are isolated, abused or even criminalized. As a PhD educator trained in psychology, I feel it’s my ethical duty to minimize bias and provide the right support.

In your experience, what should individuals, society and the government do to better support people suffering from mental illness?

Governments should fund mental health more because of the staggering difference between the cost of mental health disorders and spending on research. In the United Kingdom, mental health receives 13 percent of the funding but accounts for 23 percent of its economic burden. Society needs to fight the stigma by adopting a zero-tolerance policy for mental illness stigma. Individuals who have a mental illness should first know they are not alone. Twenty-five percent of Americans experience a mental health problem at some point in their lives. They should look for professional help and know that they can be helped.

What are the 6 strategies you use to promote your own wellbeing and mental wellness? Can you please give a story or example for each?

  1. I educate myself systematically on the topics to be up to date with the latest development in these areas. This can be done by reading books, listening to podcasts, watching video materials.
  2. I meditate. It is a proven fact that meditation helps decrease stress levels and leads to general wellbeing.
  3. I practice sports regularly. Physical activity leads to better health and increases dopamine levels. In my case, I am a Brazilian jiu-jitsu practitioner — it also removes emotional tensions.
  4. I surround myself with knowledgeable people — my therapist makes sure I stay mentally well, my mentors provide tools for change, my teachers help me analyze what I am going through in my life. Having experts around you helps tremendously.
  5. Avoid toxicity at all costs. I do not spend time on dramatic relationships or holding grudges, nor do I use people, food or media as escape mechanisms from my demons. Guilt, shame and fear will be confronted as soon as they arise.
  6. I value mental wellness and put it at the top of my priorities in professional and personal life. I know it is my responsibility to create a sane and conscious life, and I am the one to make it work.

What are your favorite books, podcasts, or resources that inspire you to be a mental health champion?

I find Psychology Today to be a very useful resource for championing mental health.

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