Community//

“Go outside for at least one minute.” With Dr. William Seeds & Amanda Rosenberg

I would first like to make it clear that I am in no way a mental health expert. Here are my unqualified thoughts, please don’t drag me on twitter.Individuals: educate yourselves on mental illness. If someone reaches out to you about their mental health, listen, don’t judge, and support in any way you can.Society: be […]

I would first like to make it clear that I am in no way a mental health expert. Here are my unqualified thoughts, please don’t drag me on twitter.

Individuals: educate yourselves on mental illness. If someone reaches out to you about their mental health, listen, don’t judge, and support in any way you can.

Society: be responsible and sensitive when discussing mental illness. From the images on TV and movies, to how it’s reported on the news. If you have a big splashy platform, use it to teach people and change the way we talk about, even down to the phrasing. For example, do not use “committed suicide” instead use “died by suicide.” Small things like this make a big difference.

Government: FREE THERAPY FOR EVERYONE


As a part of my series about Mental Health Champions helping to normalize the focus on mental wellness, I had the pleasure to interview Amanda Rosenberg, author of THAT’S MENTAL. Amanda Rosenberg is a British author and comedy writer whose work has been featured in McSweeney’s, Vox, Anxy Magazine, The Establishment, Funny Or Die, The Lily, GOOD, and The Hairpin. Her first book That’s Mental: Painfully Funny Things That Drive Me Crazy About Being Mentally Ill is out now. When she’s not writing she can be found indoors watching tv and movies while scrolling through her phone.


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

I’ve been a writer for a long time, primarily because it’s the only thing I’m halfway good at…even though I nearly ended this sentence with a preposition, wow good save. What brought me to writing about mental health was when I first realized I was very mentally ill. Then I was like “Ok, better write about this then.”

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?

Oh man, everything. Can “everything” be my answer?

The belief that mentally ill people are dangerous, lazy, attention-seekers, and a threat to society has been around for ages. That stigma was planted a long, long time ago and it’s never stopped growing. Its branches have bored deep into every part of our lives — work, family, friends, politics, movies, television, news, the medical community. It’s hard to uproot something so pervasive and profoundly ingrained. Sure, it’s great that we have mental health awareness days and weeks and months. And it’s great that people share resources and hotlines, but if you ever want to go beyond, think about calling out the stigma when you see or hear it. Because for those of us who have a mental illness, we don’t just hear and see it, we live it, and we’re tired.

Sometimes fighting the stigma feels like playing an endless game of whack-a-mole, one day it’s “wearing straitjackets as a Halloween costume” the next it’s “labeling mass shooters as mentally ill when they should be labeled white supremacists.” But those who fight the stigma can’t always get to each “mole” in time and that’s because there’s not enough of us. If we want to get rid of the stigma we need more people to fight and those people aren’t just mental health advocates (god knows they have enough shit to deal with) I’m talking about people with large, influential platforms who can help educate and on a bigger scale. It’s That way we can whack thousands of moles in one go.

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

I think just talking about it helps. Talking about it openly and honestly. Talking about it in a responsible way.

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

I’d been writing and blogging about my mental illness for a few years. At first no-one read my stuff, but as I kept writing a few people were like, “thank you for writing about this. It’s helped me a lot” and I liked that it helped people. So, I wrote some more until someone approached me and asked if I wanted to write a book and I said, “will it make me lots of money?” And they said, “no, but it’ll help lots of people” and I said, “ugh ok fine.”

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

I would first like to make it clear that I am in no way a mental health expert. Here are my unqualified thoughts, please don’t drag me on twitter.

Individuals: educate yourselves on mental illness. If someone reaches out to you about their mental health, listen, don’t judge, and support in any way you can.

Society: be responsible and sensitive when discussing mental illness. From the images on TV and movies, to how it’s reported on the news. If you have a big splashy platform, use it to teach people and change the way we talk about, even down to the phrasing. For example, do not use “committed suicide” instead use “died by suicide.” Small things like this make a big difference.

Government: FREE THERAPY FOR EVERYONE

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?

Most of these are taken from a chapter in my book called Small Things I Do When I Want to Die.

I like to do small, easy things (as they’re all I can do) so that I feel accomplished, because when I feel like I’ve achieved something, the less likely I am to want to die.

  1. Make my bed — simple. It makes me feel accomplished. Also, your bed will look real nice for that midday depression nap.
  2. Go outside for at least one minute — makes me feel accomplished. Fresh air is good, right? And when people ask if you’ve been outside today you can say “yes, yes I have, very much so”
  3. Read one chapter of a book — my bedside table of books are as impressive as they are unread. But instead of putting the pressure on to read a whole book (an impossible feat) I try just one chapter. It makes me feel super well-read like one of those real authors.
  4. Stretch your body, not your mind — I don’t know what that means but stretching feels good and it does not require much mental energy.
  5. Do a jigsaw puzzle — I love doing puzzles because you feel accomplished with every piece you put together. It also takes up all the space in your mind leaving no space for intrusive thoughts! Win-win!
  6. Fold clothes — You don’t even have to put them away, just fold them. It’s repetitive and kind of soothing. It’s a bonus if you want to put them away, but if you just want to stare at a neat pile of clothes then you absolutely should do you.

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

Book: Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher. Podcast: Mental Illness Happy Hour. Inspiring resource: My therapist.

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