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Hope Illuminated Podcast

  • Technology for Mental Health Equity, Bianca McCall | 125

    7 MAY 2024 · In this inspiring episode of the Hope Illuminated podcast, Dr. Sally Spencer-Thomas engages in a deeply insightful conversation with Bianca McCall, a retired professional athlete and passionate advocate for leveraging technology to enhance mental health care accessibility. Bianca shares her personal journey of overcoming challenges, including childhood trauma and the intense pressures faced as an elite athlete, shedding light on the unique mental health struggles experienced within high-performance environments.Throughout the episode, Bianca emphasizes the urgent need to break down barriers to mental health support, particularly within marginalized communities. Drawing from her own experiences and professional endeavors, she explores the transformative potential of technology-driven solutions in providing timely and culturally sensitive mental health resources. Bianca’s dedication to fostering self-discovery and peer support emerges as a central theme, underscoring the importance of empowering individuals to connect with their inner selves and build resilient communities of support.Bianca’s innovative approach to utilizing technology as a tool for healing and connection shines through as she discusses the development of the Reach In Now app, which aims to provide real-time peer support and resources to individuals in need. Listeners are invited on a journey of reflection and action, prompted to consider their own relationships with technology, self-discovery, and community support. The episode encourages listeners to engage in courageous conversations, challenge societal norms, and advocate for inclusive, compassionate approaches to mental health care. for more information on this episode go to
    1h 5m 22s
  • Ashtanga Trauma-Sensitive Yoga, Dr. Jessa Navidé | Episode 124

    23 MAR 2024 · The intimate connection between the mind and body cannot be overstated, and nurturing this relationship can lead to profound healing. The remarkable interplay between our mental and physical states is especially highlighted through yoga practices, with an emphasis on breath work and mindfulness, it’s been shown to soothe the nervous system, offering healing for those suffering with trauma.In this episode of Hope Illuminated, I am honored to be joined by Dr. Jessa Navidé, as we delve into the profound intersection of trauma and healing through body-centered practices. Jessa shares her powerful personal journey, navigating through struggles with suicidal ideation and attempts, ultimately finding solace and transformation through trauma-sensitive yoga.Trauma-sensitive yoga serves as a powerful tool in regulating the nervous system and reclaiming our sense of self. Jessa's odyssey began at age six, grappling with suicidal ideation, and her discovery of Ashtanga yoga became a transformative tool for profound healing. Through her experiences, she illuminates the power of body awareness, the gentle art of befriending the body, and the empowerment gained in the journey toward wholeness.As both a mental health provider and someone who has walked through the shadows of suicidal intensity, Jessa underscores the importance of incorporating lived experiences and trauma-sensitive approaches in therapeutic settings. Together, we explore the scientific underpinnings of trauma-sensitive yoga and its remarkable efficacy in facilitating healing for trauma survivors.Too often, the trauma stemming from suicide attempts is shrouded in stigma and overlooked. However, by embracing body-centered methodologies, we unearth a path to healing and empowerment. Join us as we shed light on the transformative potential of trauma-sensitive practices, and pave the way toward a future filled with healing and resilience For more information on this episode go to
    50m 24s
  • Neurodiversity and Suicide -- A Mother's Search for Answers: Interview with Dr. Jessica Revill : Episode 123

    17 FEB 2024 · Each year, the sobering statistics remind us of the heartbreaking reality: autistic individuals are six times more likely to die by suicide than their non-autistic counterparts.In our latest episode, we delve into a conversation with the author of "Find Him Among the Living," a poignant memoir by Dr. Jessica Revill. Through her deeply personal account of her son Gregory Chew's life and tragic loss to suicide, Dr. Revill sheds light on the urgent need to address the disproportionate number of suicides within the autistic community.Autism, a developmental condition impacting communication and sensory processing, often intersects with mental health challenges such as anxiety and depression. Shockingly, 90% of autistic individuals who die by suicide have a diagnosed mental health disorder, compared to 40% in the non-autistic population.Central to understanding the struggles faced by autistic individuals is Dr. Thomas Joiner’s concept of 'thwarted belonging' and the profound impact of social isolation. The relentless effort to camouflage or mask natural behaviors in a world that often fails to accept them creates an overwhelming sense of alienation and exhaustion.To grasp the daily challenges faced by autistic individuals, consider being thrust into a world where communication is radically different. Imagine the laborious task of deciphering emotional cues akin to a foreign language, leading to burnout and a desire to withdraw from society. This is the reality for many autistic individuals.Despite these daunting obstacles, Dr. Revill advocates for actionable solutions. From specialized suicide prevention programs tailored to the autistic community to enhanced support during the transition from high school to adulthood, there's an urgent need for systemic change. Additionally, greater awareness of ableist prejudice and improved training for medical professionals are crucial steps toward fostering inclusivity and understanding.Join us as we navigate these critical issues, striving to create a world where every individual, regardless of neurodiversity, feels seen, supported, and valued. Tune in to my conversation with Dr. Revill and visit her website for further insights and resources on suicide prevention and autism advocacy.About Dr. Jessica Revill Dr. Jessica Revill, an Australian psychologist, embarked on a unique professional journey that began in journalism and culminated in the field of psychology. As a mature age student, she pursued her passion, earning a master's degree from California State University, Los Angeles, and later a PhD in educational psychology from UCLA.Driven by a deep commitment to mental health advocacy, Dr. Revill hosts a video podcast titled "Prisoner of the Mind with Dr. Jessica Revill," where she explores various aspects of mental well-being. Following the tragic loss of her son Gregory, she redirected her clinical focus towards suicide prevention, a cause that has become deeply personal to her.Residing in western Sydney, Dr. Revill continues her dedicated work in the field of psychology, striving to make a meaningful impact in the lives of individuals struggling with mental health challenges. To learn more about Dr. Jessica Revill or to connect with her, please visit her website at for more information on this episode go to
    33m 11s
  • How Faith Communities and Mental Health Advocates Can Partner to Create Soul Safe Spaces: Interview with David Galvan | Episode 122

    9 JAN 2024 ·, my soul sister on a mission, has been talking about and its connection to suicide and poor mental health and about as a pathway to healing. Our research on people’s perception of “the soul” revealed that many people think about their soul as “the essence of who we are and that things that happen to us can wear down this essence until we feel so lost and isolated our “soul” loses the energy to go on. In this interview, I speak with David Galvan, a faith leader, and mental health advocate intent on building “soul safe spaces” where we live and work. David shares with us insights from his work in bridging the silos of mental health and faith. For more information on this episode go to
    33m 49s
  • CAMS -- The Four Cornerstones of Managing Suicidal Risk: Interview with Dr. David Jobes | Episode 121

    21 NOV 2023 · For many mental health providers clinical training around suicide — if we received any at all — was rooted in fear and was focused on trying to mitigate risk for the clinician rather than on how to help the person in despair. In this podcast, I interview Dr. David Jobes, a clinician-researcher who has dedicated his life’s work to finding an evidence-based approach to helping people through their suicidal suffering. Here we discuss the capstone edition in his three-book series that helps clients find their way back to a passion for living. for more information on this episode go to
    43m 1s
  • It Happens to Men Too -- An Honest Discussion about Men and Eating Disorders: Interview with Ross Sonnenblick | Episode 120

    7 NOV 2023 · In a world where societal pressures and media influence often focus on women's body image, it's crucial to shed light on a less-discussed but equally pressing issue: men, body image, and eating disorders. Research on men's culture and body image reveals a complex interplay of factors influencing how men perceive and engage with their bodies. Societal expectations, media representations, and peer influences play significant roles in shaping men's body image ideals. For instance, many men experience muscular dysmorphia, a condition where individuals obsessively pursue extreme muscle growth, often to the detriment of their mental and physical health. This topic was the focus of my doctoral research where I found that steroid-using, body-building men often had similar psychological challenges as women living with anorexia. Understanding this evolving landscape is crucial in addressing men's body image issues and promoting a healthier, more inclusive perspective on masculinity and self-worth. By understanding these challenges, men’s health advocates hope to foster greater awareness, empathy, and support for men facing these issues. In this episode, I interview Ross Sonnenblick about his doctoral research, his desire to help others, and his lived experience with body image challenges.For more information on this episode go to
    42m 25s
  • Man Kind -- Modernizing Masculinity Promotes Men's Mental Health in the Age of Kenergy: Interview with Dr. Zachary Gerdes | Episode 119

    1 AUG 2023 · “Kenergy” is all the rage. Why? Because men are ready to modernize masculinity. If you’ve watched the movie “Barbie” released this week, you may understand that Kenergy can be understood as a positive framing of masculinity, which challenges toxic portrayals of traditional male traits. The term draws inspiration from the character Ken, who plays a supportive role in his relationship with Barbie. Ken’s character stands in contrast to conventional gender norms that expect men to be dominant and stoic, and to avoid embracing traits perceived as "weak." Ken's role as a supportive partner for Barbie illustrates a deviation from stereotypical gender expectations, wherein men are often expected to take on dominant roles in relationships. The concept of “Kenergy” suggests that breaking free from these rigid gender scripts can lead to a more genuine expression of masculinity, and ultimately more happiness for men. Masculinity has long been associated with stoicism, patriarchy, and self-reliance, but these traditional norms have proven detrimental to men's mental health. Higher rates of suicide, lower rates of help-seeking, and increased substance use and violence among men highlight the urgency for change. In his book "Man Kind: Tools for Mental Health, Well-Being, and Modernizing Masculinity," counseling psychologist Dr. Zachary Gerdes presents a transformative framework to help men foster collaboration, embrace vulnerability, and build mental resilience. By challenging outdated concepts of masculinity, Gerdes offers a path toward improved mental health and well-being for men. Societal expectations that encourage men to suppress emotions and avoid seeking help exacerbate men’s mental health challenges. In this podcast, Dr. Gerdes covers the LIFT model of helping men modernize ideas about masculinity and live happier lives. For moe on this episode go to
    49m 38s
  • Sinkhole -- Reflections on Generational Suicide: Interview with Juliet Patterson | Episode 118

    12 JUN 2023 · Many of us bereaved by suicide find ourselves as Frank Campbell describes in a Our world assumptions are shattered.What happens to a family with multiple losses by suicide? In this interview I speak to Juliet Patterson, a poet and the author of the book “Sinkhole: A Legacy of Suicide.” Juliet grew up in the shadows of multiple family members deaths by suicide and wondered too — “Will I die this way?” Instead, she has come to find poetry and other forms of storytelling are helping her make meaning. About Juliet Patterson Juliet Patterson is the author of Sinkhole: A Legacy of Suicide (Milkweed Editions, September 2022) and two full-length poetry collections, (Nightboat Books 2016), a finalist for the 2017 Audre Lorde Poetry Award, and (Nightboat Books, 2006), winner of the Nightboat Poetry Prize and a finalist for the 2006 Lambda Literary Award. A recipient of a Arts & Letters Susan Atefat Prize in non-fiction, and a Lynda Hull Memorial Poetry Prize, she has also been awarded fellowships from the Jerome Foundation, the Minnesota State Arts Board, and the Minneapolis-based Creative Community Leadership Institute (formerly the Institute for Community and Creative Development). She teaches creative writing and literature at St. Olaf College and is also a faculty member of the college’s Environmental Conversations program. for more information on this episode go to
    38m 34s
  • Understanding Adoption through a Trauma-Informed Lens: Interview with Lina Vanegas | Episode 117

    9 MAY 2023 · Sara Easterly, the author of once said “I entered a long period of death ideation in adolescence when I began wondering about my birth mother almost constantly. The losses due to adoption began to feel overwhelming, but it didn’t feel like there was room to grieve.”According to a, adoptees are four time more likely to report a suicide attempt than non-adoptees and Lina Vanegas, our podcast guest, has some ideas of why this is so including: - the trauma of separation from the birth family - the lack of medical history, which may give insights to health and mental health vulnerabilities - racism when adoption is transnational or transracial - isolation from the cultural community of origin - microagressions from others about how grateful an adopted person should be About Lina Vanegas Lina Vanegas is a national speaker, trainer and presenter on mental health, trauma, adoption and suicide. she is also an MSW, suicide loss survivor and lived experience expert and advocate. She is also a co-host of the podcast, Rescripting The Narrative. She has been featured on NPR, multiple panels and podcasts. Her English Bulldog McQueen has an Instagram account. For more information on this episode go to
    50m 10s
  • Explicit

    The Long Tail of Trauma -- Adverse Childhood Experiences and Suicide: Interview with Corey Jones | Episode 116

    12 APR 2023 · TRIGGER WARNING! This episode shares details of a child’s experiences with domestic violence and suicide and may be activating for some listeners. The research on ”Adverse Childhood Experiences” is clear — The CDC Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study has identified ten types of childhood trauma that can affect people later in life. Five types of trauma are personal, such as physical abuse or neglect, while the other five are related to family members, such as having a parent who is an alcoholic or experiencing the divorce of parents. Each type of trauma counts as one, so someone who has experienced physical abuse, has one alcoholic parent, and a mother who was a survivor of domestic violence has an ACE score of three.The study revealed a strong link between childhood trauma and chronic diseases that people develop as adults, such as heart disease, lung cancer, and diabetes. It also showed a link to social and emotional problems such as depression, violence, and suicide. In this episode I speak with the amazing Corey Jones. Corey’s childhood and adolescent journey through trauma is heartbreaking, and his perseverance and ability to turn pain into purpose is inspirational. He breaks the shackles to his past by appreciating this is his life to live. For more information on this episode go to
    47m 40s

Welcome to the Hope Illuminated Podcast, your source for the stories, science and strategy of suicide prevention, mental health promotion and resilience where we live, learn, and work. I’m your...

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Welcome to the Hope Illuminated Podcast, your source for the stories, science and strategy of suicide prevention, mental health promotion and resilience where we live, learn, and work. I’m your host, Dr. Sally Spencer-Thomas, and I am on a life mission to empower communities with solutions that help people overcome isolation and despair and rekindle a passion for living. Each episode we’re joined by international experts who inspire hope and offer real guidance. Welcome to the show! I am so grateful you are here.
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