Mental Health Champions: Why & How Dr Louise Stanger Of All About Interventions Is Helping To Champion Mental Wellness

An Interview With Michelle Tennant Nicholson

Michelle Tennant Nicholson
Authority Magazine
24 min readOct 16


Journaling-I also like to write, for some journaling does the trick. Writing down one’s thoughts, feelings, emotions each day can be helpful. It’s no secret I am an early riser and on any given morning my journaling takes the form of a blog to my readership.

As a part of our series about Mental Health Champions helping to promote mental wellness, I had the pleasure to interview Dr. Louise Stanger.

No stranger to adversity, Dr. Louise Stanger is a strength-based family specialist who creates with wit, laughter, and compassion transformational openings for her clients to soar. She lives in Rancho Santa Fe, California where you can find her playing pickleball, walking with her husband John and their doodles, swimming, writing, and having fun with grandchildren. She prides herself on always being available to those she serves and always picks up her own phone. An adventurer at heart whether Bhutan, Machu Pichu or the San Diego coastline, Dr. Stanger knows that everyone can discover their “Why”.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit. Can you tell us a bit about how you grew up?

Born on a fault line of trauma and emotional wreckage, I stumbled through deception, family substance abuse, mental health, and unexpected deaths to discover a life worth living. I remember the night my father died. I was seven years old. The phone rang. I was at my very prim and proper Uncles’ house. My mother jumped up and my uncles sat like stuffed baboons, making fun of my table manners and not offering to help yet muttering in the way lawyers do. Their typical way of handling the uncomfortable.

They did not handle anything well. I was ushered off to bed and later woke up with the smell of alcohol dancing around my head, being told my father was in “heaven.” I wondered how did he get there? Did Allegheny airlines have a special flight? Did he fly coach or first class?

Everything was a secret. The funeral was a secret. The tears were a secret. I was given chocolate brownies and relegated to stay with the help. Thank God for my nanny Annabella. Without her, I would have no one. She held me, cried, and said I would be all right. Yet, I saw spots in my eyes.

All right came at a price. Since no one would tell me how my father went to heaven, I proceeded with a bright imaginative voice to make up my ever-famous narrative. My twinkling blue eyed father who played with me and told me stories was secretly ‘Superman.” A piece of kryptonite fell from the sky, crushed him, and took him away to a beautiful place in the sky where cherubs frolicked and danced. There was no other earthly reason that he could be gone.

But my heavenly vision of cherubs frolicking with my father in fluffy sky-bundles of cotton-like precipitation was never to last. One day Ruthie Ann, a bratty freckled faced third grade classmate, announced to the entire playground, “Your daddy didn’t go to heaven — he hung himself with a tie”!

That statement and image exploded in my head like a thousand ‘D Day bombs crossed at Normandy. No matter that my father Sidney Sam Wallach experienced a mental illness, no matter that the doctors could not help, no matter that electric shock therapy and all the love in the world could not help. The truth was that the intergenerational trauma he experienced (both his mother and father at his age died by suicide after drinking bottles of Clorox) could not escape him. My wounded mother and I were left to pick up the pieces since our relatives scorned us like National Hathorne’s Scarlet Letter.

Yet I was fortunate. Faced with adversity, there were several people — mentors, coaches, advisors, teachers — that allowed me to grow, to be nurtured and to find myself along the way. Annabelle who cared for me as a baby, Leon Rubenstein who owned Camp Wood Echo where I was sent away following my father’s death. At Camp Echo, I navigated bows and arrows, making perfect beds and playing in the woods till I was thirteen. Bubba Schacter, a young social worker helped me out during college. And especially my lifetime mentor, Dr. Glen Haworth, who I met at age twenty as a young graduate student who believed in me till he died in 2022, at age 98. His existential stance and belief in authenticity fueled me.

Truth was, I stumbled through grade school and high school propelled by boys, girls, and gossip. I made out in the back seats of cars, fell asleep in algebra, and never really thought I was good enough. My best friend Sally and her mom and dad provided a haven from my new father who loved a whiskey bottle, a boxing match, and his adopted son more. By hook, I was accepted to college where I decided cough syrup combined with swimming and English literature, Beowulf, John Dunne, and fraternity boys filled my soul. It was a time of innocence of red cups, of civil rights, marching with Martin, and watching great heroes be picked off one by one. It was there that I fulfilled what was a false destiny, I fell in love with an exotic dental student from NYC and thought all my dreams would come true. The fairy tale wedding, a move to California, three beautiful daughters, a son that died from SIDS. In addition, a Graduate degree, teaching assignments, society life, another sudden death, widowhood, parenthood, and a second marriage colored my life like a kaleidoscope run wild. Throughout it all, resilience has been the key to openness, transparency and authenticity.

You are currently leading an initiative that is helping to promote mental wellness. Can you tell us a bit more specifically about what you are trying to address?

As a clinician, interventionist and family specialist, I am addressing the dysregulation families feel when a loved one experiences a mental health, substance abuse disorder. I also have an expertise in sudden death grief and loss having worked with the widows of 9–11. In my work, I am trying to create a new synergy working side by side with highly specialized teams to create wellness in families, which in turn transcends into society.

In doing so, I wear many different hats — as a clinician, as a family coach and care coordinator, and as a mentor that serves as a witness to everyday suffering. I teach how to laugh, to feel, and to unpack the past and rejoice in the present. As a writer and author, I have written three books; Falling Up A Memoir of Renewal , The Definitive Guide to Addiction Intervention-A Collective Strategy and Addiction in the Family, Helping Families Navigate Challenges Emotions and Recovery. I write a weekly blog for the world. I have over 500 which are psychoeducational and designed to teach, inspire, and inform.

As a teacher and speaker, I collaborate with other talented young people in creating a legacy so that the work I do lives on.

Specifically, I collaborate as a Family Whisper with many behavioral health care facilities across the globe.

I proudly serve as Director of Family Services for YPM, an innovative program that attempts to mitigate risk for young people 13–28 using a novel treatment without walls approach. Working alongside psychiatrists and wellness mentors.

I also have the good fortune to speak across the world on topics ranging from, I was invited to a Pot party at 72, Family Mapping, Riding a Bicycle Backwards and Other Innovative Strategies, What’ Love Got to Do with it- Boundaries, Chronic Pain, Trauma and Intergenerational Growth, and Mattering to name a few…

Can you tell us the backstory about what inspired you to originally feel passionate about this cause?

As I shared earlier, growing up in a family beset with pain, laughter, substance abuse, five sudden deaths, yet laughter, kindness, and generosity of spirit to do better spurred me on. My mother, who often dressed like Cher and drank more whiskey sours than anyone I have ever met — named Dorothy Schwartz, Silverblatt, Wallach Levine — always looked for goodness in others. While an imperfect woman, she always helped the downtrodden and always wanted to make the world a better place. Two things stand out. One as a young kindergarten student. My mother wanted to make our little school safe. The street was narrow, pick-ups and drops off were dangerous. She crusaded amongst the little town of Pittsburgh so that Wightman school became a one-way street. I am sure she set the standard. After the sudden SIDS death of my third child Erik Allen Stanger at 3 months, I was reenergized by two dynamic women to crusade against the elementary school superintendent who bought, of all things, a “ride a mower” when there was no lawn to mow. I became one of five elected officials in Cardiff by the Sea. I became one of the first woman school board presidents and following in my mother’s footsteps, created the first before and after school daycare in 1979 — setting a standard which is commonplace today.

More importantly, my mother loved people. It did not matter who you were, what color you were or how much money you had. She loved everyone and their stories. She thought everyone was authentic. Hence, it was no surprise that she hosted many people of different colors and found goodness in everyone. She carried that trait until she died. She chose a colorful, good-hearted transvestite as a caretaker and a servicewoman who loved to play gin rummy with her, made her whiskey sours and tell jokes as her trusted companions. At her funeral, which of course was not conventional and true to form, she was buried in a crown of Ti Leaves, an honored Hawaiian tradition by her friends who worked the boats at the Outrigger hotel in Waikiki (off duty firemen). The funeral also included a black broken-down cocktail singer who sang, “We are the World,” and a Rabbi who blessed her and the outrigger canoe. I like to think that following in her footsteps, I talk to everyone and know that everyone has a story worth honoring.

Many of us have ideas, dreams, and passions, but never manifest them. They don’t get up and just do it. But you did. Was there an “Aha Moment” that made you decide that you were actually going to step up and do it? What was that final trigger?

At 77, I have seen and done much. Sometimes gifts come to you in strange unforeseen ways. There are a few aha moments that I will share with you today:

How did I create Student to Student? In the early 80s, SDSU- thanks to Playboy Magazine — was dubbed the number one-party school in the nation. The US government, specifically the Department of Education, reported college campuses were a mess, the red cup phenomenon (alcohol) was killing college students, and something had to be done to help mitigate risk. I was lucky. I developed an award-winning program funded by the Dept of Education entitled Student to Student. It was created to provide peer mentoring and a haven for students to Party without Regrets. While the first group of students were hard core and were in prison during recovery, it morphed to be the coolest thing on college campus and every sorority and fraternity wanted to have a representative. The concept grew like wildflowers and went across the nation from campus to campus.

At the same time, there was a mandate that graduate students (social work, marriage and family, psychology etc.) have a course in alcohol and other drugs. Truth was, we knew little. This was the time when Betty Ford was just starting, and people looked to Minnesota for a standard of care for folks that had alcohol and other drug problems. As such I would often bring guest lecturers in the classroom. One evening a tall stately gentleman, Dr. Frank Picard, who at that time was the director of a private treatment center named Springbrook based in Oregon penned a book entitled, Family Intervention came to my classroom. He was best friends with Dr. Vern Johnson who is considered to be the granddaddy of intervention with his book, I’ll Quit Tomorrow. As Dr. Picard spoke, my eyes widened, my eyes dropped, my ears perked up. I listened and I absorbed. He must have read my mind; he knew my family! I was intrigued by what he had to say and how he perceived this to be important family work. I recall listening to Frank with the reassurance and found my calling. I was great in times of crisis. I loved drama and intrigue. I had been great as an ER social worker. I had a deep desire to help people be all they could be. I was hooked from that moment on and thanks to him was able to develop an intervention practice which I did on the side. Though, my style and my way of being differed, that was my aha moment — where I knew this would always be part of my being.

Third ah ha: While I had my master’s degree at the ripe old age of 20 and had the privilege of being a full-time lecturer at SDSU San Diego State University for well over 25 years, I did not go and get my doctoral degree till I was in my 50s. Encouraged by my second husband John, I entered graduate school at the University of San Diego. It was there that I was given the freedom to explore a dissertation topic I was passionate about. I was famous in the alcohol prevention field, having many millions of dollars of grants to help young people yet I wanted to explore what it was like to be a young widow as I had been a third-generation widow. My grandfather died the summer before I was born, and as I previously shared, my father died at age seven. The third: My first husband died the day after Easter after biking 60 miles at the age of 43. It was through this work that I developed my own use of portraiture and the signature way I do family mapping. The work afforded me the privilege of working with the firefighters of 9–11 and allowed me to travel and do things I never dreamed of and create a way into a story that I use with every family I have the privilege to work with today.

Earning a doctoral degree was no easy feat and opened the door for more career opportunities. I was smitten with the idea that I could change the world. At least I could change it one parent, one student at a time. The opportunity presented itself for me to be an administrator at USD (I had no idea what it meant to be an administrator). I have always known how to be a collaborator, a team player, and how to make others famous, yet an administrator was different. Undaunted, I became the first and the last Director of Alcohol and other Drug Services at USD. I desired to achieve an over-the-top prestigious NIH-NIAA grant on a parent-based intervention to reduce high risk problematic drinking. That combined with my previous award-winning work on developing Student -to-Student (Peer Mentoring) programs across college campuses would be the icing on the cake as it would combine my three loves — mitigating risk, providing great service for parents, and creating student synergy and university prestige.

I got the grant, the largest the University ever received. A private school is much different than a public school and did not truly have the infrastructure or understanding of what that meant. I put together a great team in that arena and I sucked at being an administrator. I moved too quickly and upset folks that had been there and, in their eyes, did a poor job. They wanted to fire me from being the administrator and wanted me to keep the grant.

Fourth AH ha -Getting Fired is a way into Action.

Truth is, it feels awful to be fired. At least for me it did. I felt like a failure, yet it was the best gift I ever received. At the time, I was helping a ninety-year-old gentleman help his sixty-three year old daughter. The intervention took forever. We started in July, and I did not invite her to change till the day after Christmas. Yet, I said I love to do this so I created my first brochure for AAI (AllAboutInterventions ) ( I thought I would be first in the yellow pages!) and began to let the world know about me. This with the help of some very talented colleagues. The rest is history.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company or organization?

That’s a tough question as there have been so many things that have happened since I founded AllAboutInterventions. Today, one outstanding story comes to mind. About three years ago, a behavioral health care owner, Mendi Baron, asked if I would work with a New Jersey family who was experiencing difficulties setting boundaries with one of their sons. He was seeing a New York therapist, and his son had a wellness mentor, a young man named Maks Ezrin. I had of course worked with student mentors on the University level, yet this was the first time I had experience with an innovative behavioral health intervention called treatment with walls (TWW). I liked the way this young man joined up with the client in real time and encouraged slow incremental strength based steps using the tenants of positive psychology. As an interventionist, I was quick like an ER doctor able to make fast life and death assessments and prescribe treatment. In this milieu, I was challenged to think progress over time, not quick swift action.

In truth, I am always a sucker for bright talented students. I have a great track record of helping them grow and in turn they help me grow. My former student, Joel Garfinkel is one of the top performance coaches in the country. My former graduate student Dr. John Donavan Clapp earned over 30 million dollars in grants designed to mitigate risk and served as the Dean of USC, School of Social Work.

Shortly after working with Maks, I was presented with an extremely difficult high acuity case: a young man, a twin who was oppositional defiant equipped with a high-powered analyst living alone abusing substances, and failing to thrive with divorced parents in the midst of Covid. I immediately thought of Maks and invited him to work with me. Much to my joy, he accepted. I was smart enough to know that I was too old to join 24/7, though well equipped to work this case. A bond was formed and a new way of working was born. Maks had formed his own company entitled Youth Prevention Mentors which was designed to activate and inspire youth. I realized I had much to learn about working with young adults and their families in a milieu outside of a behavioral health setting i.e. Treatment Without Walls TWW

Like most new working relationships, we tested each other out and learned how each other worked with one another along with trusted teammates. The synergy, ethics and respect were presented. Together with other wellness mentors and consulting psychiatrists, we made a difference in young people’s lives, and I was proud to join as a Director of Family Programming. Thus, joining a long-standing love and respect of mentoring with systemic family change.

None of us can be successful without some help along the way. Did you have mentors or cheerleaders who helped you to succeed? Can you tell us a story about their influence?

As a young and impressionable 19-year-old graduate student at San Diego State College who had burned their bra, marched with Martin, and saw my heroes Jack, Martin, Bobby shot down resulting in protests, I was given an assignment to read the American sociologist Andrew Billingsley newly published book (1968) Black Families in White America. Billingsley postulated that folks are able to get ahead by experiencing screens of opportunities — mentors, advisors etc — that helped usher them along the way. I have been fortunate to have a few. The common denominator amongst them all is they have had a strength-based perspective, were authentic, gracious, and believed in my abilities.

  1. Leon Rubenstein: Social worker and owner of Camp Wood Echo. Mr. Rubenstein and his wife Rose and son Richard provided a haven to run, to fish, to learn how to make beds with hospital corners, do archery, make popsicle stick baskets and just be a kid for many moons, following the death of my father. He also directed the local Irene Kaufman Center where I went for after school activities. Leon gave me my first job as a CIT at Camp Wood Echo. He was musical, loved to sing and always had joy in his heart for me. We stayed close and as a young adult, I visited him in Maryland when he retired. I will always be grateful for his tutelage.
  2. Dr. Viktor Kavalier: University of Pittsburgh professor. He was an unorthodox economics professor who said I could take a special study for credit. He suggested I study Thorstein Veblen’s Theory of the Leisure Class and invidious comparison. He saw authenticity in all and helped me be curious about our world.
  3. Buba Schachter MSW: Bubba Schacter was a young social worker when I attended University of Pittsburgh. I was very poor. My mother was poor, and my stepfather was poor. He helped me apply for social security and VA benefits that I was eligible for. He gave me a small job as a high school sorority advisor. He showed me how social workers find resources and he believed in me.
  4. Dr. Glen O Haworth — Distinguished Professor SDSU (deceased): Dr. Haworth was my mentor, my friend, my surrogate Father. I met him at the ripe age of twenty and for fifty-six years we remained friends. So much so, that I have had the privilege of being his successor executor trustee. He taught me about life, about resilience, goodness, and authenticity. He saw when he could no longer see, he laughed, and he always applauded my work. Upon his death, I found my original master’s thesis, my doctoral dissertation, and books in between.

5. Dr Divia Kakayia — Psychologist: Dr Kakayia helped my family weather many stormy times, the death of my son, the death of my husband, Alan, children’s reactions, and a host of issues always displaying strength and demonstrating healthy professional boundaries.

6. Barbara Lewinter and Jane Johnson- Friends: After my third child Erik died, they did everything, helped plan the funeral, provided food etc and were by my side and my childrens’ side. Thinking I would benefit from a public win, they decided I should run for school board. We walked the streets of tiny Cardiff-by-the-sea, made old fashioned flyers, and had ice cream socials. After my husband died, they were there and when I remarried I did so at Jane’s home. Jane taught me graciousness, kindness, and compassion. She was a fierce competitor, an avid tennis player yet ALS took her out. The Fieldstone Foundation of which her husband Keith founded supported my university programs at both SDSU and at USD. That kind of generosity of spirit is memorable.

7. Dr. Johanna Hunsaker Professor School of Business University of San Diego: Dr Hunsaker encouraged me to study women in leadership at the University of Hong Kong and was my dissertation chair, encouraging and providing the academic support to explore qualitatively women who were widowed at an early age. This paved the way for me to learn so much, use the qualitative inquiry method of portraiture and to work with many widows across the globe including the NY fire dept and the widows of 9–11.

8. The Honorable Napoleon O Jones — (Deceased) Second African American Federal court judge in the state of California

of California: We shared similar adversity and together we would talk about our lives in the early morning hours before court started. Always a champion of what I was doing. He was an inspirer who I always could count on in early morning hours. And once a month we had lunch at his favorite Chinese restaurant known for their chocolate coated fortune cookies. Our fortunes were always optimistic.

9. Ed and Mary Ann Spatola — owners Newfound Life: After leaving the University, I had the good fortune of meeting the Spatola’s who owned and still do New Found Life in Long Beach California. They invited me to speak at their family forum. I loved doing that and the work they did invited me to present on their behalf at the famous Breakers Hotel at the largest alcohol and other drug conference held. They sponsored my talk on Families. Tucked away in a room that looked like an aerobic studio, I glided and presented what I knew. Whatever I said resonated with the crowd and I was awarded “The Fan Favorite Speaker.” My speaking, consulting and intervention practice took off. I will to this day always speak at their family forums which they have been doing over 25 years.

10. Dr. Gaetano Vaccaro: Along my way, I have always sought counsel from professionals. Dr Vaccaro is a world class psychologist who helps me navigate aging, work, and relationships.

11. Tina Turner: I have been inspired by Tina Turner since I was 16 years old, heard her and Ike perform at the Shadyside Academy Prom. Her resiliency, her ability to keep going “rolling down the river” has always invigorated me. She has inspired me to write several articles and upon her death, published this tribute. She was “Simply the Best

12. My family: John Walter Wadas, my husband who provides a haven and believes I can do anything. Sydney Holland, Felicia Alexander, and Shelby Stanger- my daughters who are the best cheerleaders one could ever have. They challenge me to do my best, teach me about the world. And demonstrate in Shelby’s words that there are always “wild ideas worth living.”

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?

There have been excellent studies done which show that over the past twenty years, people’s perceptions of mental illness and the stigma associated has dissipated only a little. A recent student reported in treatment advocacy demonstrates that people perceived schizophrenia as an amoral failing in much the same way they perceived mental illness. Only recently there has been a change in perception that depression and suicide, like alcoholism, are brain diseases — not moral failings.

Today the rates of anxiety and depression have skyrocketed making it a normalized condition, not one that is stigmatized. According to Treatment Advocacy Center, “The decrease in the stigma of depression was especially pronounced in the more recent period of the study, from 2006 to 2018. For example, approximately one in three individuals expressed an unwillingness to socialize with someone with depression in 2006, but less than one in five individuals expressed the same unwillingness in 2018. While almost 50% of individuals reported an unwillingness to work closely with someone with depression in 2006, only 30% expressed that same unwillingness in 2018. There was no difference in attitudes by different demographic variables, although they did find the well-known conservatizing effect of age: individuals have.”

With the advent of Covid and a twenty-five percent increase in anxiety and depression as reported by the World Health Organization, especially by women and children, there is not a day that goes by where the popular press does not write about this. Creating a language in which depression, anxiety and even trauma is seen as a treatable consequence of life as we know also removes stigma and allows for tools to be developed so one can navigate life. There must be commitment to provide mental health services to all taking it out of the bedroom to the boardroom. Community service centers are a must and home health care a standard.

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

Create funding to support community centers, in home visits, and outreach teams. Across the country, make alcohol and other drug, trauma etc a mandatory part of medical school, nursing, teacher, counselor education training. Have everyone take a course in mental wellness. Be creative in dispensing mental health information, churches, religious organizations, barber shops, beauty parlors, mani-pedi parlors, gyms, bars, restaurants, toy stores and create opportunities for rewards. Realize that mental wellness is something we all strive for and with the past years of isolation, covid, natural disasters, political and racial unrest, that isolation has been the norm.

Creating connections and being willing to look for innovation in all sectors is key along with awarding corporations for doing good and for setting standards of creating wellness and mental health centers from the top down.

What are your 5 strategies you use to promote your own well-being and mental wellness? Can you please give a story or example for each?

In my book Addiction in the Family , Helping Families Navigate Challenges, Emotions and Recovery , I offer self-care activities for individuals to do. These are evidenced based and are simple for folks to use and adapt. In doing so, I encourage folks to do at least nine activities each week -physically, emotionally, spiritually that are consistent with their values so they may flourish.

  1. Practice Gratitude — Being of Service- Journaling The positive psychologist Emond has found that doing a grateful practice literally rewires your brain so that throughout the day you will more naturally remember positive emotions. Being grateful also strengthens our relationships as we practice gratitude with others. It is simple and only requires a pen and paper. Each morning write down three things you are grateful for and say them outside. Find a partner to do this with since it helps you keep being accountable. I do a gratitude list every day with three unlikely colleagues. We have been doing this for over two years. And it is a great habit. I also do grateful lists with my clients to help them on their way. Over time, what you are grateful for does get deeper. Try it. You will be grateful you did.
  2. Practice Random Kindness- Nothing can make you feel better than being of service to someone else. Try practicing Random Kindness. Be sure and give a warm help to your server or the grocery clerk. Give the grocery store checker a big surprise and ask if she sells gift certificates. Proceed to buy one then turn around and give to her/him and thank them for their service. If you are in line at a local coffee shop, buy the person in back of you their tea/coffee and ask them to pass it forward. Being of service is a sure way to get out of your head.
  3. Journaling-I also like to write, for some journaling does the trick. Writing down one’s thoughts, feelings, emotions each day can be helpful. It’s no secret I am an early riser and on any given morning my journaling takes the form of a blog to my readership.
  4. Breathing- Breathing is something we all do and if we practice a bit, we can do a breathing exercise that helps lower our stress and bring in goodness. To do so, find a quiet place on the floor, visualize a happy place, rub your tummy, take a few big breaths in and let it go. You will feel lighter and brighter. Another place I love to breathe (sounds funny doesn’t it) as we are always breathing yet swimming laps in the swimming pool clears my head, gives me physical exercise and allows me to breathe a new day in and work out my problems in the water.
  5. Meditation and Mindfulness- This is often a hard one for me as I have trouble sitting still, desiring to jump around. After knee replacement, I took a course in mindfulness that helped me slow down and deal with my new knee. I can’t say that eating a pear for three minutes and watching juice flow was earth shattering. Yet, it does remind me to Stop, Pause, Reflect and be in the Present Moment which is important. As for meditation, there are so many wonderful apps to try. For me, Deepak Chopra’s 21 days of Abundance resonates with me. It’s quick and easy to follow. Other apps are Calm and Happy. Walking in Nature soothes the soul, singing in the shower.
  6. Physical Activities –Play and Other Creative Activities For me, getting out moving is a key to clear my head, brain, and feel good about myself. When I am in LA, I always do Soul Cycle. The dark room and the inspirational words of David Zint, my instructor, fill my soul. For some it’s walking. I love to do that with my Doodles. Pickleball and swimming are staples for me yet trying something different and out of my comfort area. This past year, I bravely rode a horse (Billy Crystal in City Slickers has nothing on me!) I tried my hand at dancing, had lots of fun playing Rummikub with friends and Pokémon Monopoly with grandchildren. And of course, there’s nothing more fun than creating a vision board.
  7. Spiritual, Emotional or Activities that consistent with your values. For me, I love a good 12 step open meeting, walking on the beach or in the forest and realizing there is always something greater than myself. I can also get a spiritual connection through music, especially country music and Tina Turner. Calling a friend, calling my daughters, taking a bubble bath, reading a good book, telling a joke, getting a mani-pedi, talking to a sponsor, a wellness coach or a therapist are all things I do to bolster my being.

In short, think about the alphabet A-Z and have fun with your imagination. There are so many things that you can do from learning how to fly a plane or a kite to laughing out loud yoga to planting a garden to whatever your mind can conceive. Enjoy

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

Wild Ideas Worth Living Podcast Shelby Stanger

Will to Wild-Shelby Stanger

If You Meet the Buddha on the Road Kill Him-Sheldon Kopp

There are No Hidden Meanings-Ernest Becker

Irrational Man-William Barret

The Art and Science of Portraiture- Sarah Lawrence Lightfoot and Jessica Davis

Think and Grow Rich-Napoleon O Hill

Leadership Without Easy Answers-Dr. Ronald Heifitz

The Artists Way- Julia Cameron

Happiness Becomes You- Tina Turner

Deepak Chopra’s 21 days of Abundance meditation

If you could tell other people one thing about why they should consider making a positive impact on our environment or society, like you, what would you tell them?

Take Care of yourself physically, emotionally and be consistent with your values. Be of Service to Others. Community Connection.

How can our readers follow you online?



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Website- www.Youth


This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!

About the Interviewer: Inspired by the father of PR, Edward Bernays (who was also Sigmund Freud’s nephew), Michelle Tennant Nicholson researches marketing, mental injury, and what it takes for optimal human development. An award-winning writer and publicist, she’s seen PR transition from typewriters to Twitter. Michelle co-founded



Michelle Tennant Nicholson
Authority Magazine

A “Givefluencer,” Chief Creative Officer of Wasabi Publicity, Inc., Creator of