The coming month of May marks Mental Health Awareness Month, an opportunity to raise awareness and reduce stigma surrounding mental health support. In celebration, consider booking these experts who speak candidly about their own experiences and struggles with mental health, and who lead with empathy as they offer perspectives on this frequently maligned topic.
Contact us about booking these speakers for your upcoming virtual or in-person events.
Robert Kolker is an award-winning journalist, a mental health advocate, and the author of the instant #1 New York Times-bestselling Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of an American Family. The widely praised book tells the story of a family overcome with schizophrenia and the major advancements in our understanding of mental illness that were brought about by the family’s willingness to undergo research. In deeply thoughtful and empathetic talks, Kolker discusses the importance of destigmatizing mental illness and the future of treatment and research for schizophrenia.
At age 13, Ian Manuel was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for attempted murder after his participation in a botched robbery. Incarcerated as a teenager, Manuel served 26 years in prison—18 of which were in solitary confinement—until Bryan Stevenson’s Equal Justice Initiative secured his release in 2016. A fierce advocate for improved mental health services for incarcerated individuals, he speaks openly about the damaging effects of solitary confinement, especially on juveniles, and encourages audiences to rethink what justice and redemption really mean. In his upcoming memoir, My Time Will Come (May 2021), as well as his moving talks, Manuel shares his experiences under the harrowing circumstances of incarceration and solitary, and tells the story of how he managed—through his faith and poetry—to endure them and survive.
When a devastating injury ended James Hatch‘s 24-year military career, he wrestled with the lasting mental effects of trauma, even as his physical health improved. With the support of a team of friends and family, Hatch was able to find a renewed sense of purpose, movingly chronicled in his memoir Touching the Dragon. Since his recovery, Hatch has dedicated his life to eradicating the stigma surrounding mental illness for veterans as well as civilians, showing how recovery is a team effort that begins with one person reaching out. His frank honesty inspires people to reframe the way they think about mental illness and recovery as well as the true meaning of leadership and teamwork.
Holly Whitaker is the bestselling author of Quit Like a Woman: The Radical Choice to Not Drink in a Culture Obsessed With Alcohol. She is also the founder and CEO of Tempest, Inc., a holistic, evidence-based digital recovery platform that has served thousands of individuals on their path to recovery through various programs, educational courses, trauma-informed counselors, and more. In her candid talks, Whitaker reframes the narrative around drinking culture and offers a road map to living your best life without the crutch of intoxication.
Carlos Andrés Gómez is a spoken word poet and author of the coming-of-age memoir Man Up: Reimagining Modern Manhood. He draws from his eclectic expertise—as an award-winning solo performer, trained facilitator, public speaker, and educator—to create sought-after and captivating programs. In his energizing talks aimed toward young students, educators, and administrators, Gomez promotes strategies for mental wellness and emotional resilience, especially in this time of intense isolation, grief, and stress. His timely and interactive program focuses on finding ways to navigate the most pressing challenges students and educators face, offering routine-building practices and evidence-based psychological strategies that promote mindfulness.
Tiffany Jenkins is a recovering addict and the creator of Juggling the Jenkins, a popular blog with a huge social media following. Her memoir, High Achiever: The Incredible True Story of One Addict’s Double Life, details Jenkins’s experience with the devastating effects of opioid addiction, as well as her subsequent recovery and journey to sobriety. In her talks, as well as on her blog, podcast, and YouTube channel, Jenkins speaks candidly about addiction, motherhood, marriage, and mental health. She provides an up-close portrait of the mind of an addict unraveled by narcotics to help and inspire audiences across the nation who are struggling with mental illness.
June Eric-Udorie has been a fierce advocate for change since her teenage years, and is now one of the most prominent voices on feminism, social justice, women’s leadership, and equality. She is the editor of Can We All Be Feminists?, a collection of essays on intersectional feminism and identity. Informative, accessible, and inspiring, Eric-Udorie is unafraid to challenge her audiences to confront difficult truths and to make their own contributions towards the fight for justice and equality. She addresses disability and draws awareness to the specific and frequent exclusion of women with disabilities from valuable spaces. Drawing on her own experiences, Eric-Udorie demonstrates how feminist activists can inadvertently block the contributions of disabled women, and how to create safe spaces for all voices instead.