The stigma really breaks my heart because I know there are so many people suffering in silence because of it. As you mentioned, over 44 million Americans have a DIAGNOSED mental health condition, and I believe many more suffer daily without even the official diagnosis. I believe so many symptoms of mental illness are part of the universal human experience; i.e. shame, isolation, lack of self-worth, lack of self-love, self-doubt, insecurity — we can all as human beings relate to these feelings, and I feel indebted to serve as an honest and vulnerable voice for the masses by sharing my OWN experiences with these feelings so as to make the rest of the world feel less alone, and to feel supported in whatever they’re navigating.
As a part of my series about “Mental Health Champions” helping to normalize the focus on mental wellness, I had the pleasure to interview Jennifer Goldman, a wellness entrepreneur, self-love teacher, mental health advocate, and motivational speaker whose life-changing journey to mental health informs everything she does. Depression and anxiety darkened every corner of Jennifer’s youth until a wilderness intervention at age 16 sparked her journey of self-discovery. Her two-year long therapeutic journey spanned an Outdoor Wilderness Therapy Program in the Blue Ridge Mountains to an Emotional Growth Boarding School in Southern Virginia where she completed her High School career. Since then, she has achieved a Dual Bachelors degree in Religious Studies and Philosophy from Skidmore College, become certified in a diverse range of holistic healing modalities, and acquired a unique skillset to thrive in her daily life. She is a 300-hour certified Advanced Clinical Aromatherapist, a three-times certified 200-hour Yoga Teacher in the Hatha, Vinyasa, and Kundalini traditions, a certified Reiki 1 and Reiki 2 practitioner, and an expert in Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction and Positive Psychology. As a senior in college, Jennifer incorporated the first-ever mood-balancing beauty® brand for mental health and healthy skin, Essential Rose Life, which has become a thriving national brand and movement. Jennifer seeks to empower each and every woman to create the most nourishing self-relationship, restore a truly balanced lifestyle on her own terms, and recognize what’s most beautiful inside.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to this specific career path?
When I was 16 years old, after I had been diagnosed with depression and anxiety, I was taken from my home in the middle of the night. It literally was that dramatic. I did not know where I was going or for how long. I was pulled out of high school in the middle of the year and dropped off in the middle of the wilderness, where I would begin a cathartic and introspective journey inside of myself. I spent 10 weeks living in the wilderness with a pack on my back, a sleeping bag, and a journal, and then went straight from there to what was described as an “Emotional Growth Boarding School” where I completed my high school career. The Boarding School laced traditional academia with an intense therapeutic curriculum of weekly group therapy, individual therapy, workshop intensives, and leadership development programs. I consider this two-year long experience the start of my mental health journey and my process of awakening. Post Boarding School, I went to Skidmore College and majored in Philosophy and Religious Studies. I was seeking ways to heal myself from the inside out and desired to understand how people make meaning and use ritual and spirituality to transform pain and trauma into purpose and passion. I studied and became certified in a diverse range of holistic healing practices, such as Advanced Clinical Aromatherapy, Yoga, Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, Positive Psychology and more. I found these practices instrumental in my pesonal growth and development and in supporting my daily mental health. When I was a senior at Skidmore, I launched Skidpothecary (Skidmore College Apothecary) which became the foundation of Essential Rose LLC, which I incorporated that same year. Essential Rose Life is the first-ever mood-balancing beauty® brand for mental health and healthy skin. We’re dedicated to revolutionizing the personal care industry and concept of “beauty” as more than how you look — it’s how you FEEL. The brand is my way of giving back to the community, taking a public and active stance for mental health, and sharing with the world how I personally navigated my own healing and do so on a daily basis today. As part of my personal mental health mission, I donate 5% of all net profits from Essential Rose Life to StompOut Bullying; the nation’s largest anti-bullying campaign. I am also in the process of filing my very own 501(c)3 Inner Rose Foundation for mental health advocacy, which will deliver a proprietary mental wellness curriculum to the community-at-large.
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 think this is the case because mental illness is less visible than physical illness and is therefore harder for people to understand. With something like cancer or diabetes, it’s undeniable. With something like depression and anxiety, it appears to be more subjective as it is internal, although there are clearly external, physical symptoms that can manifest. I also think there is stigma because mental health obviously has to do with our thoughts and emotions, and it’s very vulnerable to talk about how we think and feel inside. It’s much easier to talk about something physical that seems more removed and less a part of “us” and our “identity” as people. Mental illness can be perceived by society as weakness because people don’t understand it or can believe it is a “choice” vs something that is just as real and out of someone’s control as a physical illness. The stigma really breaks my heart because I know there are so many people suffering in silence because of it. As you mentioned, over 44 million Americans have a DIAGNOSED mental health condition, and I believe many more suffer daily without even the official diagnosis. I believe so many symptoms of mental illness are part of the universal human experience; i.e. shame, isolation, lack of self-worth, lack of self-love, self-doubt, insecurity — we can all as human beings relate to these feelings, and I feel indebted to serve as an honest and vulnerable voice for the masses by sharing my OWN experiences with these feelings so as to make the rest of the world feel less alone, and to feel supported in whatever they’re navigating.
Can you tell our readers about how you are helping to de-stigmatize the focus on mental wellness?
I am helping to do this daily through my mental health (inner) beauty brand, Essential Rose Life. The whole concept of Essential Rose Life is to prioritze mental health AND healthy skin and to bring more depth and awareness to what has historically been a superficial beauty and personal care industry. We shed the stigma through our truly holistic products for inner and outer beauty, our empowering and authentic social media content where I take an active stand in support of the conversation around mental health and illness, and through our mental health and self-care programming, workshops and retreats, where I teach online and in person. We also donate 5% of net profits to StompOut Bullying, which is the nation’s largest anti-bullying campaign, as I have personally experienced the severe negative impacts bullying can have on mental health and want to provide a safer world for children today. Additionally, I am working on creating my very own 501(c)3 Inner Rose Foundation for mental health advocacy for women and adolescents nationwide, which will deliver a propietary mental wellness curriculum, designed by me and other psychologists / holistic health experts, to the community-at-large.
In your experience, what should a) individuals b) society, and c) the government do to better support people suffering from mental illness?
The success of the country, world and planet depends on our mental health and wellbeing. If we continue at the rate we’re going, depression is set to become the global burden of disease by 2030, which is not only tragic and avoiadable, but will be very expensive for the world to maintain. Mental health informs physical health — I don’t believe you can have one without the other. Through honesty, vulnerability, authentic conversation, education, and better mental health programming, we could literally save lives, reduce rates of suicide, addiction-related deaths, early pregnancies, and a whole host of other public health challenges. We could reduce crime. Mental health is intimately related with public health and the thriving of the entire ecosystem that is the world!
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?
1) Daily mindfulness meditation — I sit in silence each morning for 30 minutes before I start my day because this helps me be less irritated, reactive, and emotional when LIFE happens!
2) Daily tea drinking — I drink a cup of tea each morning because the process of sipping on a warm, healing liquid such as tea is very therapeutic and grounding. It helps create mindfulness and presence in my day. I also like to take “tea breaks” frequently throughout my day.
3) I get outside — nature is an incredibly grounding and balancing force in my life. As someone who is highly sensitive and prone to anxious and depressive thinking, getting outside helps me put things in perspective, love something outside of my self, and feel connected to the world at large.
4) Set intentions — I like to journal frequently and set intentions because this helps me discipline my mind, feel accomplished, work towards a goal, and feel like I am working towards creating meaning in my life and in the world. Having a phrase or phrases of empowerment to focus on is very supportive and grounding when my mind can ordinarily be very overactive!
5) SLEEP — I require a lot of it…say 8 hours ideally. Sleep is so important to my mental health, when I don’t sleep enough I can be very emotional and I think that’s true for everyone. Adequate sleep enables me to think more clearly throughout the day, be less reactive and more balanced emotionally, and infuse into my daily activities the passion, purpose, and energy that helps me feel connected with my life and mission.
6) Healthy nutrition (and lots of chocolate) — Yes, I recognize how important nutrition is to our mental health and well-being! Did you know the gut has more seretonin (happiness chemicals) receptors than does the brain?! Aka what you eat matters, and how you digest it matters. Chocolate is one of my most favorite foods and something that elevates my mood daily. I eat healthy chocolate (dark with coconut sugar — HU is the brand) because it not only is good for my heart and body, but it also helps me stay positive and energizing throughout the day. I make a “Cacao Smoothie” each morning too! Cacao is what chocolate is made of at its core, minus the sugar and other additivies. Literally can’t get enough of it!
What are your favorite books, podcasts, or resources that inspire you to be a mental health champion?
HAY HOUSE INC — everything Hay House! Louise Hay books, Wayne Dyer books, Gabby Bernstein books, Elena Brower instagram. Oprah Super Soul Sunday interviews . Tony Robbins youtube videos. Dr. Bruce Lipton videos. I am constantly consuming Positive Psych and spirituality content to keep me elevated and in a good mind space! I love to listen to anything related to Law of Attraction — The Secret Documentary, etc.
Thank you so much for these insights! This was so inspiring!