“So many people feel overwhelmed, stigmatized, wrong, and helpless because nobody ever taught them what to do when they are stressed and anxious about things that occur in everyday life.”

So many people feel overwhelmed, stigmatized, wrong, and helpless because nobody ever taught them what to do when they are stressed and anxious about things that occur in everyday life. Society should be talking about mental wellness. We all struggle at different parts of our lives with intense emotions. I had the pleasure to interview […]

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So many people feel overwhelmed, stigmatized, wrong, and helpless because nobody ever taught them what to do when they are stressed and anxious about things that occur in everyday life. Society should be talking about mental wellness. We all struggle at different parts of our lives with intense emotions.

I had the pleasure to interview Emily Roberts, The Guidance Girl, a Psychotherapist, Parenting Consultant, Educational Speaker, Author of Express Yourself: A Teen Girls Guide to Speaking Up and Being Who You Are, who just launched her jewelry line, Rock Your Worth, intentional jewelry to shift the mindset. The Guidance Girl is concept created by Emily Roberts an innovative, powerful approach to help you achieve goals and feel your best by redefining traditional therapy for the girls and women of today. Emily is aware of the challenges faced by both teens and women, and has built a practice by positioning herself as therapeutic mentor and consultant. She is part of the Hartstein Psychological Services team in New York City practicing Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) and Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT). As a contributing author for HealthyPlace.com Emily writes the weekly blog Building Self-Esteem and is also parenting consultant for Neurogistics Corporation. Emily is the co-founder of The Talking Room, a proactive program for girls ages 5–9 specializing in developing self-esteem, confidence, leadership, friendship skills, and stress reduction activities with an emphasis on creating healthy boundaries with technology.

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

The teen years were complicated — and it was hard to navigate them without guidance. I had a tough time adjusting, and, though my parents found several therapists, they turned out not to be a good fit for me. I needed and wanted someone who was “cool” like my older cousins, who would truly hear me. Unfortunately, at that time, that person didn’t exist in my world.

In college I struggled with low self-esteem and finally found the right therapist for me, one who understood who I was and what I needed. This motivated me to get my masters in psychology, start a practice, begin speaking, and essentially become the therapist I wished I had when I was younger. One of my most profound experiences was working in an outpatient hospital for eating disorders — that’s when I began to see how to shift the mindset successfully.

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 am adamant both talking about and aligned with the idea that there should not be any stigma attached to mental health issues. 5 out of 5 of us suffer from mental health conditions, Why? We all have brains, emotions, and go through difficult times.

Some people will have a mental illness based on their genetics, life experiences, trauma and more. But we ALL go through mental health crises, we all know somebody who is struggling.

We need to change our language about this, in order to promote mental wellness and get people help and support when they are having issues, rather than stigmatizing them using words like crazy, wrong, off, etc. This not only creates the illusion that these are somehow problems that affect only a small number of people, but it discourages the people who need help, therapy, support, from getting it. And instead, stigmatizes them into being quiet about their problems, which just makes them worse and harder to deal with.

We need to let these people know that they are not alone, that this happens to everyone, and that we will help them to deal better. People tend to make fun of what they don’t understand, and this is a huge disservice to anyone who is struggling, and eventually, it will be you.

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

We all need to help everybody understand that human emotion is real. Everybody has it, it is part of our neuro-biology. If it wasn’t, we would be robots.

Emotions help us take actions, and we need to teach people that having reactions to these issues should not isolate them, and cause them to handle their suffering in unhealthy ways, from cutting, to eating disorders, drug or alcohol abuse, and finally, suicide. The problem is that all of us need information and skills for making ourselves feel better.

We have to remind all of ourselves that everybody has value, that they can empower themselves, and shift their behavior in a much more positive way.

My whole career has been dedicated to empowering people, from my Rock Your Worth Collection of intention-setting bracelets, to my book, Express Yourself, and through writing and speaking. I want to concentrate on helping people replace their negative paralysis with behavior that will remind them that they are worthy, and that happiness can be theirs. Any kind of talisman reminds us that we need to love ourselves, to change our thought processes to more positive ones, and these feelings will help us all work through our problems. And urge us to seek help for what we cannot deal with ourselves.

Talking about emotions openly means people who are struggling are more likely to ask for help than harm themselves.

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

After working in a hospital setting, private practice and offering workshops for various populations struggling with mental health issues, I learned that recurring positive visual cues can improve confidence made profound changes in peoples’ behavior toward the more positive.

Something visual can remind you of your self-worth, and that it is okay to struggle. Visual cues can build confidence to deal with negative emotions. Even though it might not make the situation positive, it can make it easier to deal with.

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

There needs to be more mental health education at a young age for all. Everybody needs to know skills and coping mechanisms for managing and regulating emotions. We truly do not teach people how normal it is to feel fear, frustration, anxiety, loss, nor how to process and deal with these feelings.

So many people feel overwhelmed, stigmatized, wrong, and helpless because nobody ever taught them what to do when they are stressed and anxious about things that occur in everyday life. Society should be talking about mental wellness. We all struggle at different parts of our lives with intense emotions.

That is why there should be a school mandate for curriculum created by people in the field that creates a collective language on how to promote mental wellness without any stigma. Calling people “crazy” or “off”, has to stop. People cannot be blamed for the way their brain chemistry and nervous system function. We need to take all these feelings and struggles into the open, make people feel comfortable about discussing their issues, and okay with seeking help.

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?

Becoming more mindful of what my body needs, giving my body food and nutrients that will serve me. Nutrition and brain chemistry are so connected and an important component in mental wellness. Not in a limiting way, but in a plentiful way. The right foods can improve your mood. Not deprivation, but getting people comfortable with the foods that improve their brain chemistry. Learning what works and what doesn’t (whether it is trial and error or seeking out the help of a professional) , the more we forget about the all or nothing way of looking at things like sleep, self-care, diet, the better off we are in terms of mental wellness.

I stopped eating so much sugar, and it was huge for me. My blood sugar regulated, I had more energy, proving small changes can have a profound effect on your life and mental wellness.

Another thing that really promoted my own well-being was when I started making bracelets. This was before I learned about meditation or mindfulness. My therapist told me to do something to relax, and yet something I was excited about but it also made me feel calm. It was a creative outlet. Activating all parts of your brain can be so helpful. It gives you a comfortable space to figure out what you want your life to be when the body is not in the fight or flight mode. It helped me to open my mind and get in the zone.

Take time to notice your negative self-talk. Learn how to recognize when your negative self-talk is starting to consume your mind. We can’t do this when we neglect self-care for our mental health. We push it away and attempt to distract, but it is a trigger that you need to tune in and talk back to.

For example, one time I found myself thinking, “I should have known better, why did I do that, ugh I’m such an idiot,” when I was putting off a deadline. When I noticed that this negative self-talk was taking control, I was able to pause and take a break from my task and tune into what was really going on in my body and mind, which helped me gain some control over my mood. I got up from my desk and did some breathing. Did it magically make me happy? No, but it gave me a second to slow down and what I realized was I had been sitting there at my desk for over two hours with barely any motivation.

My body needed to move around and my mind deserved that too. I took a walk and called a friend. Less than 30 minutes later I was almost done with my piece. Why? I took a break from my fear-based thoughts and did something that my body needed. I didn’t shut down the computer and binge on Netflix or chocolate, I tried to get mindful and realigned with what was best for me.

When you think of self-care as a mindful minute or two, versus an indulgence that you can’t afford, it does wonders for your self-awareness and ability to recognize that you need to manage your emotions.

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

I love everything by Brene Brown, she is so validating for all populations of people. She is very authentic and genuine about her own life, which makes people feel really connected to her.

I really like my book as well because it teaches you to communicate with confidence and express your emotions to others.

Anything by Gabrielle Bernstein about how to be mindful and meditative.

Marianne Williamson helps me to let go of pain, find the path to mental wellness, and she gets me more grounded and real in my emotions.

Healthyplace.com where people write about their own struggles, but also it provides support and resources.

Podcast: Gary Vaynerchuk, he gets you into a positive mindset pretty quickly.

Tim Ferriss Podcast: He is a marketing and mental health entrepreneur, and talks about his own mental health struggles. And he has been so successful in spite of them; it really de-stigmatizes emotional issues, offers tools, techniques and mental health plans that worked for him. He also interviews others about what worked for them.

Thank you so much for these insights! This was so inspiring!

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