Speaking Up About Mental Health

Amanda, 26, has given over 150 speeches across the U.S. since she was 18. She shares her story from psychiatric hospitilization in college to serving as the youngest board member for the nation's largest grassroots mental health organization in the U.S., the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). As a documentary filmmaker specializing in psychosis, Amanda challenges individuals and agencies to think outside-the-box of community engagement: "how do we use the heart of stories and the power of technology to reach people where they're at?" As a strategic consultant and designer, Amanda has helped over 50 mental health and education organizations across the U.S. with social marketing, strategic planning, and multimedia resource development. As a member of the LGBTQ+ community, she is a passionate believer in the power of identity and how systemic marginilization can be opportunity for individual empowerment and civic action.

Book Amanda for Speaking Engagment

Adversity to Advocacy

Amanda speaks about the opportunities that arose from her mental health adversities. The three months she spent in a psychiatric hospital taught her the art and science of mental transformation: that one can heal and grow STRONGER from a crisis and allow opportunities for self and systemic advocacy. 

Starting with Identity

Crisis and hospitalization can be an opportunity for acknowledging or re-building one's identity. It can be easy to deny, forget, or get lost with how we identify and express ourselves both internally and to society. Amanda struggled with diagnostic labels, feeling they needed to be de-constructed and translated into stories and histories of identity. While she realized a diagnosis was a necessary gateway to access treatment, it also became a gateway to begin challenging the system and providers to embed culture and identity across medically driven models. Amanda learned in the hospital that there were many layers to her identity that both contributed to crisis but also transformation and empowerment: realizing she was part of the LGBTQ culture, acknowleding and forgiving trauma, and finding healing and self through the arts and self expression. 

Mental Expression and Release

The arts can heal in many ways, both mentally and spirituallly. Amanda grew up drawing, but didn't realize the power of self-expression until she was handed a box of crayons during psychiatric hospitilization her freshman year of college. She layered and etched her mind into a place that allowed her to acknowledge trauma, reconcile the darkness with color, forgive the trauma, accept the crisis, and finally find opportunity and empowerment amidst it all. Amanda has now auctioned and sold over $10,000 of her crayon work supporting local nonprofits across the U.S.

My work in the field of mental and behavioral health was fueled by my personal experience having been hospitalized my freshman year of college. It became my mission to educate and innovate with individuals, communities and national organizations in efforts to improve the culture and science of mental healthcare.