Mental Health Champions: Kati Morton is helping to give us a language to describe what’s going on in our lives

I think that we all need language to describe what’s going on in our lives. Knowing what to call a certain symptom or situation can empower us to make change. If I can positively affect one person by helping them better understand themselves and those around them, I have made that world a better place. […]

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I think that we all need language to describe what’s going on in our lives. Knowing what to call a certain symptom or situation can empower us to make change. If I can positively affect one person by helping them better understand themselves and those around them, I have made that world a better place. Just imagine if we all tried to just help one person, we could change the world.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Kati Morton, LMFT. Kati holds a Master’s in Clinical Psychology from Pepperdine University and is a licensed marriage and family therapist. In addition, she is a certified dialectical and behavior therapist and grief counselor and a member of The California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists. She runs a private practice in Santa Monica, CA. Over the past seven years, Kati has leveraged social media to share mental health information worldwide through video. Her specialties include working with individuals experiencing eating disorders and self-harming behaviors, although she addresses all things related to mental health. Kati is well known for her YouTube channel which now has over 635 thousand subscribers, over 42 million views, and has grown over 150% in the last year. In addition to her YouTube channel and strong presence on social media, she has appeared on the HLN/CNN television show “Dr. Drew On Call” and showcased in Europe’s highest circulated magazine, Glamour UK. Kati will be releasing her first book, Are u ok?: A Guide to Caring for Your Mental Health December 2018. Kati’s passion is to increase awareness about mental health. Her online community has expanded to all major internet platforms, allowing her to answer mental health questions from her followers around the world. She hopes by doing this, the global community can push for better services worldwide and remove the stigma associated with getting help.

Thank you so much for joining us! Can you share a story about what brought you to this particular career path?

My husband is really the reason that I am on YouTube creating educational mental health content. It all started when I was working at an eating disorder treatment center and coming home and complaining about not having anyone to refer out to when my patients were ready to step down in their treatment. I would tell him how everyone who truly understood eating disorders and their treatment wasn’t taking any new patients and the others weren’t trained enough to help. My husband, Sean, had just come back from a conference where people were talking about the power of YouTube and how it allows people to reach millions around the world. So he recommended that I put my knowledge and training about eating disorders in video and online for all to see. I wasn’t sure at first, I didn’t like the idea of being filmed, but after much persuasion, I said yes. Here we are almost 7 years later still creating mental health content on YouTube each and every week.

Can you share the most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your career?

A few years ago I received a letter from a girl who lived in China. She was in New York visiting family when she wrote and sent the letter, but she told me that she had been using her father’s VPN (while in China) to log into YouTube and view my videos. She shared just how bad the mental health care was in China and that my videos were the only way she could better understand what she was experiencing. It’s letters like her’s, that keep me focused and continuously creating each week.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Just take a look at my first few videos! They are super awkward and the titles are not clickable at all! No wonder no one shared the content, or even viewed the videos. I learned quickly that in order to succeed at reaching and helping more people, I needed to make the content more engaging, comfortable, and clickable.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

Obviously working on my book has been exciting and challenging. I cannot wait to see how many people it can help when it is released on December 11th. As for other projects, I am currently working with The Kailash Foundation to work to end child slavery. They estimate that over 260 million children are being kept as slave workers in order to bring us cheaper and cheaper goods. Through their efforts they have gotten that number down to around 100 million! I am working to help them raise money so they can fight for more stringent laws worldwide, and work to end poverty in many areas so that children can be free to go to school and have a childhood.

Can you share the most interesting story that you shared in your book?

I think that the personal stories I share will be surprising to my audience because I don’t share that much about myself online. As a therapist, I was taught to focus on my patient’s and their stories, not share too much about myself. The stories about my own relationships and life struggles will definitely be unexpected.

What is the main empowering lesson you want your readers to take away after finishing your book?

I hope that readers feel informed about what mental health care is available and how to ask for what they need. Too often we suffer in silence, not sure of how to reach out or what to ask for. I hope my book puts an end to that.

Which people in history inspire you the most? Why?

People working right now. We are connected in a way we have never been, and social media gives everyone a voice. If we use that voice for good and to support and empower people, this can be a wonderful and growth filled time. Whenever I see someone with a blog or other YouTube channel working to teach, support, or empower others I am inspired!

Which literature do you draw inspiration from? Why?

I am a huge Potterhead, so anything Harry Potter related inspires me to think outside the box, and to never give up hope that there is good in the world. I also draw a lot of person growth and inspiration from Brene Brown and her books on the power of vulnerability and raising strong.

How do you think your writing makes an impact in the world?

I think that we all need language to describe what’s going on in our lives, and my book offers just that. Knowing what to call a certain symptom or situation can empower us to make change. If I can positively affect one person by helping them better understand themselves and those around them, I have made that world a better place. Just imagine if we all tried to just help one person, we could change the world.

What advice would you give to someone considering becoming an author like you?

Make sure it’s something you are passionate about. Writing a book is no small feat, and it is going to take a lot of energy and focus. If you are sure it’s something you love and care about, then it won’t feel like so much work.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

My entire YouTube channel and career is to help people. I hope that by sharing what I know and encouraging others to do the same we can not only help ourselves and those around us, but we can even push for better mental health care worldwide.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

1) Becoming an author is WAY more than just writing a book. There are proposals, meetings, and making sure your idea doesn’t get lost in it all. That’s why being passionate is important. It gives you the strength to stick to what you want to create and know that in time it will all work out.

2) It’s all about teamwork. You will have to trust your agent and manager to help guide you along the way. As a first time writer, you will need to feel confident leaning on them as things move forward, and trust in any pivots they recommend. For example, my agent JL was with me from the very beginning, helping me shape the book idea. She and I worked together to get it where it is today, and I can honestly say that I couldn’t have done it without her.

3) Writing a book shouldn’t be about making money. Like I mentioned before, it needs to be about sharing your passion. If we focus on making money all of the love and intensity will be lost and it won’t be as impactful as it could have been. JL and I took many calls with many editors before deciding that DaCapo was the right fit. It wasn’t about the money, but the fact that they understood my mission and wanted to work with me to make that goal a reality.

4) Writing a book is one of the most draining and difficult processes. There were full days when I wasn’t able to write a single thing, even though I knew I needed to in order to turn in my manuscript on time. After I was finished with the manuscript I had to take 2 weeks off from writing or preparing anything. My brain felt like it had nothing helpful or creative to give. I wish I had known that prior to writing my book.

5) It’s not over when you’re finished writing. You could argue that even if you write about something you are passionate about, love your team, do it for the right reasons, and pour your heart and soul into it, that’s not enough. If we don’t get it in front of people, no one will know about it! That’s why I think marketing your book is so vitally important. This is the time when you should let your passion shine, and tell any and everyone about it! Something I have learned over my years being online and working for myself is, no one’s going to do it for you. So speak up and let people know about this amazing book you have created!

Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this, especially if we tag them 🙂

I actually have two. Oprah and Brene Brown. Oprah because I would love to hear about her life lessons of being in the spotlight for so many years and being a women boss. She has so much to teach us, and I would love to get a chance to learn from her. Brene Brown because her work (personal and professional) is so inspiring to me. She is constantly challenging herself and her readers to be uncomfortable and welcome change. As a fellow mental health professional I would love to hear about what’s she’s currently excited about and where she see’s mental health treatment going in the future.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Twitter: @katimorton

Instagram katimorton1

Thank you so much for this. This was very inspiring!

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