How I Started a Nonprofit by Finding Others Who Share My Passion
I never saw myself running a nonprofit for mental health — it wasn’t an ambition of mine. All my life I pursued traditional science and medicine: the lab, the clinic, the white coat. During my work at the Psychiatric Research Institute in Little Rock, Arkansas, however, I became interested in mental health advocacy when I learned how heavily environment impacts mental state — almost as much as brain chemistry or neural wiring.
In my clinical and research training I’d heard stories of abuse, disparity, and disadvantage that made it clear if I wanted to improve mental health, I couldn’t ignore the role of community. I recognized the necessity of stepping out of the lab and connecting with others to make a bigger impact than any one person can have alone.
One day a friend posted that it was Mental Illness Awareness Day. It was my first time hearing of it. As a future psychiatrist and as a neuroscientist, I couldn't believe I was working in the psychiatric hub of Arkansas and had no idea this initiative existed. I thought about the impact increased mental health awareness could have on the community at large and knew I had to figure out how to get this information out there.