The Mindful Midlife Crisis Podcast

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In this episode of The Mindful Midlife Crisis podcast, Billy and Brian engage in a thought-provoking conversation with Tandra Rutledge, the new director of the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention (AFSP). Tandra passionately discusses her journey from her early observations of untreated mental health issues to her current role where she aims to reduce suicide rates by 20 percent by 2025. This engaging conversation centers on the importance of breaking the stigma surrounding mental health, fostering open dialogues, and providing valuable resources for individuals of all ages.

Key Points:

  1. Passion and the Origins of Mental Health Advocacy: Tandra traces her passion for mental health advocacy to her childhood, where she observed untreated mental health and substance use issues within her family and community. She recognized the lack of open discussions around these topics and felt compelled to create positive change. Tandra’s journey led her to become a therapist and advocate for mental health education and suicide prevention, particularly within marginalized communities.
  2. Addressing Stigma and Promoting Conversations: Tandra emphasizes the significance of addressing stigma, especially within minority communities. The hosts and Tandra discuss how language plays a critical role in shaping perceptions. They advocate for the responsible use of language, particularly when discussing suicide. The use of the phrase “committed suicide” is discouraged, as it carries judgment and does not accurately reflect the complexities of mental health. Instead, they encourage using language that describes how a person died by suicide.
  3. Creating Conversational Resources: Tandra and the hosts highlight the importance of fostering open conversations about mental health. They discuss how media portrayal and societal norms contribute to the reluctance in addressing mental health concerns. Tandra introduces AFSP’s campaign, #RealConvo, which offers practical conversation starters to promote open discussions about mental health. They emphasize that having conversations doesn’t require special training; anyone can reach out with compassion and care to offer support.
  4. Recognizing Barriers to Mental Health Support: Tandra delves into the barriers preventing individuals from seeking mental health support. These barriers include limited access to care, navigating the healthcare system, and cultural factors. The hosts and Tandra stress the significance of knowing key resources such as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (800-273-TALK) and Crisis Text Line (741741) to offer immediate assistance during a crisis.
  5. Empowering Conversations and Advocacy: The conversation pivots to the power of dialogue in breaking down barriers and creating change. The hosts share their personal experiences with mental health struggles and how openly discussing these issues can encourage others to seek help. They emphasize that even non-experts can contribute to meaningful conversations about mental health. Tandra highlights advocacy organizations like NAMI that provide support and resources for families dealing with mental health challenges.

Our conversation withTandra Rutledge underscores the importance of open conversations and community support in addressing mental health concerns. By breaking the stigma, using responsible language, and providing practical conversation starters, individuals of all ages can feel empowered to seek help and support for their mental health needs. This conversation also serves as a valuable reminder that mental health is a shared responsibility and that everyone can play a role in fostering a culture of understanding, compassion, and advocacy.

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