Sarah Fay, Ph.D., MA, MFA

Award-winning Author and Mental Health Advocate, Northwestern University

Free Self-Improvement Speaker in Chicago

  • You Are a Visionary: How to Create True Mental Health in the Workplace

    TOPIC CATEGORY: Business

    In this engaging talk, Sarah shares her own experience of mental illness and mental health recovery and relates it to how workplaces can create true mental health: by 1) understanding what mental illness is and isn't, 2) empowering employees in mental health recovery, and 3) eliminating stigma. MORE >

    Stigma and self-stigma against mental health conditions have been shown to increase stress and therefore exacerbate mental health conditions producing a negative and costly looping effect. We know that stress, suffering, and trauma take a toll on workers, employers, companies, and organizations. 85% of workers report the workplace negatively affects their mental health and well-being. Long-term stress increases the risk of mental health issues and mental illness. When a worker isn’t feeling mentally and emotionally well, their safety and the safety of others are at risk. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), depression alone costs employers $17 billion to $44 billion and causes an estimated 200 million lost workdays each year.

    Topic covered:
    - Mental health in the workplace
    - Stress and how it affects mental health and psychiatric conditions
    - Mental illness and psychiatric diagnoses
    - Stigma and self-stigma
    - Being a visionary

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  • Cured: Is Recovery from Mental Illness Possible?

    TOPIC CATEGORY: Educational

    In this gripping talk, Sarah Fay shares her experience of a full recovery from serious mental illness. She was one of those “hopeless” cases: twenty-five years in the mental health system, six different diagnoses, nearly a dozen different medications, and unable to live independently. MORE >

    Her life changed with one word: Google. That’s right, Google. Her psychiatrist told her about a patient who’d fully recovered and gone on to become an executive at Google.

    Recovery? No one recovers from mental illness or any psychiatric diagnosis. Anorexia, bipolar disorder, OCD, ADHD, schizophrenia, etc.—those are forever.

    Turns out that’s not the case. To psychiatrists, mental health recovery is the moment when a person who’s experienced debilitating mental and emotional suffering is no longer disabled by it. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) defines recovery as “a process of change through which individuals improve their health and wellness, live a self-directed life, and strive to reach their full potential.”

    For Sarah, recovery required a complete shift in her understanding of the world, her treatment, and herself. It was incredibly difficult and full of wrong turns and setbacks, but she did it.

    This talk explores the various definitions of recovery, the data on recovery, what mental health recovery looks like, and how we work toward it. It’s especially well-suited to high school, college, and university students—who are experiencing a mental health crisis and often given no hope— and women—who are the largest users of mental healthcare services in the country.

    Learning points: 

    -What mental health recovery looks and how it differs for each person

    -Why we think psychiatric diagnoses are lifelong and the data on mental health recovery

    -The difficulty in terminology—are we “cured,” recovered, well, better?

    -Personal versus clinical recovery

    -Concrete tools and resources for mental health recovery

    -Crafting mental health narratives

    -How to find support

    -How to guide others—particularly children and young people—in their journeys toward recovery

    -How to create work, education, and living environments that foster recovery
    Find out more and watch Sarah's speaking reel here:

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