What motivates you in your work?
My lived experience – as an early childhood educator, as state MIECHV (Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting) director in Alabama, and most recently as a policy director at ZERO TO THREE – all contribute to my interest in promoting the mental health of children.
Childhood is not an adventure that we choose, but is chosen by adults, both those familiar and forever unknown, through the experiences they create for us. The unfamiliar people who impact us early in life reveal that we are not exempt from experiences that can impede something deeply critical and connected to our development: our mental health.
Mental health is complicated: Some days it is joyful. Some days it is just hard.
Every step we take in caring for ourselves and others matters, whether big or small. Taking care of each other is protective. And so is community. The more we build each other up – whether through policies that respond to the unique needs and strengths of young families, or the kind of support we give in our relationships – the stronger our ability to recover from hardship can become, and ultimately the safer we are to ourselves and to others.
In this country, we have not always talked about mental health, how we feel, what strategies to use, what help to seek, and how normal it is that every single one of us has a mind that we inhabit all day every day that deserves as much as love and attention and care as every single other part of our bodies. Health for the mind is not something we just arrive at; it is work.