Episode 232: Amy Keller Laird, Founder, CEO, Chief Brand and Creative Officer of Mental

We couldn’t imagine a better guest for Mental Health Awareness Month than Amy Keller Laird: Founder & CEO of Mental. We sat down with Amy to ask about her career journey from Editor in Chief of Women’s Health Magazine to founder of the first digital mental health & lifestyle brand for women.

As someone who had worked in the beauty and wellness space as Beauty Director of Allure, Amy had seen the world of mental health talked about, but not in the way she had personally experienced. Amy has lived with OCD, anxiety and postpartum depression and found that she wasn’t seeing her lived experience being reflected. We really admire how Amy married her experience in magazines and her journey with mental health to create something truly authentic: “I wanted to say, “Where’s the publication that would speak to me?”

To hear more of Amy’s career journey and her thoughts on how we can break the stigma of talking about mental health in the workplace, listen to this episode wherever you get your podcasts!

Dan Hodgdon
If we have people of different mindsets and skills, that's actually better because people think in different ways and we might end up with better solutions.
Amy Keller Laird
Aleni MackareyWelcome to where brains meet beauty Hosted by Jodi Katz, founder and creative director of base. Beauty. Creative agency. Hi Jodi. Hi. Where Brains Meet beauty listeners. We are hitting your podcast. Feed a week early this week. Because it's the last day of Mental health awareness month. So Jodie? How are you feeling?
Jodi KatzI'm feeling really great that I got to speak with Amy Keller, Laird. This is an amazing episode. I could have talked to her for hours and I have more and more questions for her. So I can't wait to continue the conversation with Amy around mental health and what she's doing with her platform mental that so amazing.
Aleni MackareySo it sounds like Amy mentioned. She has OCD herself and it definitely just listening in on this episode, I was, um, a live audience member that day. And it definitely makes you think about your own experiences. And I kind of have always self identified as a bit of a Germaphob. I called it that and contamination OCD. When she described, it seemed like it was something similar to being a germ of hope and kind of made me think about if I've been using the wrong words for how I felt or, you know, just how important it is to get the terminology, right. And how that can sometimes be a barrier in this conversation around mental health?
Jodi KatzRight for sure. Like I'm not a doctor. You're not a doctor? And you know, how do we define mental health vs? Mental illness. So certainly, in my conversation with Amy, I might have flubbed some ways to, you know, appropriately refer to terms and conditions. And obviously in our episode, we're not diagnosing anybody. We're just having a conversation. And it's really, really important to me that we all have this conversation, because that's how we're gonna learn.
Aleni MackareyYeah. Absolutely. We actually started thinking about mental health based beauty, creative agency through the lens of influencing after someone on the team saw a New York Times article about Lee Tillman, who left influencer status to work a regular job. And one part that really struck me from the article was this quote that said, there's no comment section at an office job.
Jodi KatzYes. I feel a lot of empathy for people who choose influencing as a career. I think their fans thinks it's easy and glamorous. This is a job where like every day you wake up looking at the metrics. And every night you go to sleep thinking about them and worrying about them and it's not. It's not an easy job. So I understand how the grass feels greener on the other side for some influencers.
Aleni MackareyAbsolutely. I'm thinking about all of the different creators in the world today and how they're at so many different ages and stages, you know, even thinking of the very young Tiktok creators who are elevated super quickly and faster than they might have been on other platforms now with tik tok and, you know, maybe that's something to watch to look at things like Burn out. And just, you know, see how all of this affects their daily life.
Jodi KatzWell. This is a conversation that I really want to continue with Amy. And I'm really excited to bring her story to our fans, because one way or another, we're all going to be confronted by mental health and how it impacts our life and our work.
Aleni MackareyYeah. Absolutely. Here is Amy Keller Laird Episode Two. Thirty two.
Jodi KatzWelcome to where brains meet beauty. Today we continue our influencer journey theme, where we're going to check in with the mental health side of influencing with Amy Keller Laird. Former beauty director of Allure and Editor in Chief of Women's Health. Amy's a veteran mental health advocate having. OCD herself. And her latest venture is a launch of Mental a lifestyle platform that addresses all things mental health and authentic and resourceful destination, aiming to redefine the dialogue by showing mental health the way it's expirence every day. I'm excited to dive into the conversation about her career journey from magazines to mental. Hi Amy. Welcome to where brains meet beauty.
Amy Keller Laird Hi. Thanks. So for for having me and I'm going to use that from magazines to mental, it's my new tagline.
Jodi KatzOkay. I'm I just love this. And it's mental health awareness month which I didn't actually plan like when we really like, let's do this. Yeah. I wasn't aware of it, but my team made me aware of it. And this is very cool timing.
Amy Keller LairdYeah. No. Absolutely. I mean, obviously look mental health exists. You're around, but it's definitely a good time for people to like, you know, raise awareness and start talking about it. And everybody kind of like gets open and. Brings their stuff during this month.
Jodi KatzAlright. Let's just before I get into my questions when I let you into the live. I noticed that your handle is called club Mental. And I mean, we think of like Club med. That isn't where you were going with this from.
Amy Keller Laird That is not where I was going with it. But I know a lot of that comes to people's minds, because we've got the M. But you know, I quit and I could not get the mental dot Com URL because someone sitting on it and I didn't have five hundred K at the time. So um, what I really wanted the brand to be called mental period. Because I wanted it to be like, it's a statement. It's mental, um. But I also liked, you know, for the URL and for Instagram, etc. All of these, like there's a famillity with the word club is friendly, right. Um. And so if you're kind of right, if you come in and you see mental, right, it might be, I don't know, you know, like we're we're in a society, obviously we're stigma? Has you know? Gone down a little bit, but it's still obviously exists in a very big way. And so there's a friendliness to the club. But um, and I'm also I also have bigger plans for creating club mentals. Um. Down the road in my greater vision. But we're not there.
Jodi KatzI love it. You're right about the approachability and the friendliness. I totally feel it. And it also I want to be a part of events. Oh yeah, I know. Right. So um, it's super inviting.
Amy Keller LairdYeah. No right. Like I mean, obviously, this is a brand that welcomes people, um. And and what you know, we want to look at mental health. We want to talk about mental health and show mental health. Not just in a vacuum, right? I think, you know one of the reasons I created. This is because when I you know I I spent twenty years and magazine media R I P. I mean, it still exists, but sadly, not in the way it once did. And I myself have OCD as you said. And I talked about it a lot. And if you Google me, you'll find all kinds of things that I've written about it. Um. I've also had anxiety. Postpartum depression. I'm like, TMI on this front so. Yeah. Anything you know when I looked around mainstream media and this is four years ago when I started the Instagram account but still pretty mature. Now it's like if you wanted to get into mental health, right, you have like the serious mental health sites which serve a very big purpose? You know, you've got like the hospital sites. You got Cleveland clinic and Mayo clinic, and all of these things you've got the organs stations, the nominees and the mental health Americas, etc, which are the nonprofits. And then you've got sort of like general wellness media, which is where I come from. So that's no slam on that right? But it's just mental Health is not the focus. They're covering many, many topics. A lot of times. It gets a little bit into depending on what.
Amy Keller LairdWhere you're reading this, there's a lot of great stories now, but it's not the focus again, right. It's like if you look at somebody's navbar, how many of them have mental helpless to their right. They've got mindfulness, they've got wellness. They've got this. They've got that, too. They have anxiety, depression, all of these things. So you kinda had a binary option, right? You could go like serious mental health, or you could sort of like dabble into like wellness, mental health. And so for me, I wanted to say, well, where's the publication that would speak to me? Right. Like I'm still interested in beauty and fashion in home. I have a career. I have family relationships. So it's not like it's just like my OCD's over here. And then like, oh, the beauty editor. Amy's over here, no. Like they all come together. And so I wanted to create a site and a brand that represented that and also like through visuals and tone of voice, right. Like I don't want to see another picture. That's black and white hand coming down the rain. You know, I mean, it's like anybody who is in media or or generally knows, like, what stock. Photography is if you go to any of those sites and type in any mental health condition. You will immediately get the rain photo hand in the rain photo. You will get the fetal position photo. You will get the and it's like, yeah, okay. Those exist, right people. That happens like I've had fetal fetal position moments. But like most of the time I'm just like living life and like there might be low grade anxiety or whatever coffee sleeve says, these mental health conditions you're dealing, you know, with a serious issue, but it's just like there is such a thing called smiling depression, right. It's very common. It's like where people don't even know you have depression because you're going about your everyday life, you know, kind of masking it right? And there's a lot of things that people mask anyway. I'm getting off point. But the point is, when you come to my site, right? Like we just did a story. Under triclotilomania. Which is a skin picking disorder? It's also called excoriation disorder, but instead of like a woman looking sad. Right like. And I illustrated it with a photo, the kind of photo that might appear in, ah, you know, a fashion magazine, right. It's like this beautiful picture of a face with these like, you know, a little bit of glitter on it. And that's not to downplay the fact that you would have picked skin. But it's just like, oh, okay, I can. I want to come into this right. I just I just want to show things in another way. It's sort of like a slightly more artistic way, or you know a way that doesn't make you feel more sad that you're looking at it and reading it. You know, because it's like all the sad, black and white, like hand on head.
Jodi KatzWhat I love about what you're doing it and why. When the pitch from your publicist rolled into my mail box like I want to talk to Amy. This is just so unique. I mean, it's like, yeah, like you said, your go to is like a practitioner hospitals, you know, research or like, um, support systems, whatever they have on their offerings. And then there's like web M d and offline. Right. We're gonna be like. And reading. Just sort of kind of neutral. Yeah. Yeah. Drive it. But what you're doing is you're showing mental health as part of one's life and not in isolation. Like you said. And this is the world right. Like if you want to meet your mental health needs and overcome them em or evolve them. You also have to live in the world. Right. You can't just be by yourself, right? You can't just isolate because the goal would be to live as full life as you possibly can even with whatever these situations are. So I think it's just so meaningful. I love that you call it Mental. I mean, it's just so disarming and important to be disarming.
Amy Keller LairdYeah. I mean, right, it's sort of like, how do we cut through the noise in the new age? And I mean, the word mental to me sticks out because it's been used as a pejorative as an insult. Right. It's like she's so mental right. Well it's always a she to right. She's so mental. Like who says he's mental? So hello. Patriarchy but side note. I don't see why it's an insult right. Like like nobody goes yourself physical like if you have like diabetes or some other kind of chronic condition like no one says that and like, you wanna call me mental. That's fine. Like I am mental. And like, that's okay. Because like basically we're all mental. I you know. And so I think it's just a taking back of the word. And I think by using it in in everyday language in that way, it just like that takes that that that takes stigma busting to another level of of actually normalizing it. And when I say normalizing mental health, I don't mean like, oh, it's cute or you know, Haha, it's more like literally it's normal. Like one in five people will have a mental health condition in there. You know, at any given time. And fifty percent of people will have a mental health condition in their lifetime. I mean, that's that's half of all people. That's almost more than any other, you know. Type of illness or or sickness. And that's just two reports.
Amy Keller LairdSo you know, we know that that people go through these things. And I think also, when you can bring mental health together with other areas of life that you might consider quote unquote more normal, it can also make you feel like, oh, it's okay. Right like, yeah, you're right. Like I'm like burnt network. Like maybe I actually have have some kind of like deeper anxiety, right. It's sort of like allows you to come into the conversation. We recently did a story about astrology and mental health. And I thought, because, you know, there's all these Tiktok memes. They're like, oh, I. I thought I was just an ass. But I'm really an Aries or whatever. You know, I'm a double airy. So it's funny.
Jodi KatzWhat does that make you a double ass?
Amy Keller LairdSome might say. But no, I'm not. I'm very. I'm don't know, know, like if I read any astrology thing is like so on par for me. Any aries? Because I'm like so aries I'm like so like. Out there. I'll try the thing. I'll do the risk that the buyer can also be blunt. You know, like those things. So as the meme would go? Right. It'd be like, I thought it was just, you know what. And then I found out it was CD anyway. So because of all these Tiktok names, we actually talked to therapists to be like, hey, like, what's the deal with astrology, mental health? And I felt they're all going to be like this is horror able everyone needs to stop. But there were sort of like, you know what like if you can use astrology to like, start thinking and talking about yourself and learning things about yourself like, hello, that's a great gateway. Of course. Then you have to say, what's next. You can't just be like, right? I'm a double aires. My rising sign is Virgo. You have to be like ready and willing to do the work. And that's you know, therapy, or, you know, exploring more. But somewhat famous astrologers also told us often people are more willing to accept things about themselves like mental health. Things hearing it from astrology, like if it's like in the stars. Then if they were to get a medical diagnosis, so if that's not like an interesting way of like normalizing mental health, right, you know, it's like there's all kinds of ways. I think we could be looking at and talk about mental health that we haven't in the past. And I don't want it to discount the place. The biggest place of treatment. Which right is therapy? Your medication, or you know, connection and all of these things. But I think when you can have like more tools that's awesome.
Jodi KatzOkay. This is fascinating. So my birthdate. Hearing about the impact of my birthday in whatever is happening. Astrologically? Yeah. More willing to hear my truth. The truth? About who I am? And what's going on inside of me than the doctor telling you?
Amy Keller LairdYeah. This is crazy. I mean, I mean, I don't wake up and I not say the word crazy anymore, by the way, is this. Um um, well, you know what like. I I my stance on that is like situations. I mean, look, everyone has their own perspective on that. I think situations can be crazy. I try not to call a human being crazy but It's so in the vernacular slips out. So you know, right like I don't want to be the culture Police.
Jodi KatzI think I call situations crazy. I don't think I call people crazy. Yes. As an instinct, I guess I think the worse the the far worst thing is to use the mental health conditions and adjective right.
Amy Keller LairdLike the weather's bipolar. No it's not. Oh. Okay. Yeah. Or right. Like OCD gets used a lot as an adjective like. You know the classic. I'm so OCD. And you're like, no, you're not remember my last OCD. Yeah. Right. And so there there's a lot of conversation in the mental health world about how OCD, particularly that. It's it's made OCD kind of become this like quirky thing and like everyone thinks they have it. But like really it's like, OCD is about like disturbing, intrusive thoughts. You know, I mean, I actually do have contamination OCD. So I do wash my hands a lot. So like I do have kind of the classic type. But I also have like OCD can have there's a lot of mental. You know things that go on. Right. Where like thoughts? Pop in your head. And then you feel terrible. And you think this is gonna happen and get done and this and that? And so so right that whole I'm so OCD like, really, you know, friends, don't say it unless you actually are so OCD. Okay. I want it. We we got off top so far. So I wanna go way back way back because we are, yeah, your journey show and you are here representing menthol. And also yourself isn't.
Jodi KatzI'm sorry. I think it's yeah, that in this. Um theme that we have this quarter that we talk about influencing mental health and not just lipstick choices. So let's go way way back to you as a ten year old. What do you want to be when you grow?
Amy Keller LairdI mean, I like I wanted to be a veterinarian for awhile. I have two cats now. And I had two cats before then. So I don't know, but like hello, I'm like so squeamish around blood. I mean, blood is one of my OCD fear. So I like probably would never go into the medical profession I got into. I mean, I kind of like always thought about psychology, but I never a thought I was gonna become a beauty editor because a like what. No one knew beauty editor suggested this get free Instagram, right. Like what? And I eventually thought, okay, I'm going into journalism when I was in high school and I was working on our high school newspaper, the purple and gold. Go Hickman high. And I was on the cross country team and like every year. We would get these like disgusting ratty uniforms like out of the boxes that have been around for like twenty years, and they were like, falling apart or had stains on them or whatever. And then like, the football team would like to run out and then like brand new uniforms every time. And I was like, I was like, why can we not like twenty years? Like I understand. Football probably brings in the money. But like, hello, it's time to like spread the wealth around for the uniforms. And I wrote like an op-ed. Basically in the purple and golden Wolong, like a few weeks later, we got new uniforms. And I was like, I know this is like the classic like, wow, journalism story. But like I was really like, kind of shock did happen. I like what I'd like didn't go into it. Thinking that was going to happen. I was basically ranting. Which I still do to this day, my cross country coast was like, maybe shouldn't have done that. But you know it worked, it worked. And so I kind of. I guess that's sent me down the path of journalism.
Jodi KatzSo I'm curious as a teenager. Did your contamination OCD show up for you in a moment like that where you're like, this is gross and forty people were this Uniform before me.
Amy Keller LairdI mean, like looking. But I I wasn't diagnosed with OCD until my twenties looking back. I can definitely see things that happened along the way like weird. I mean, I feel like I can call myself weird because I'm talking about myself. That's another thing. I believe if I won't call myself crazy. It's okay. Because like I'm the one talking. But you know where I would like and this is so weird. I but like I would like pick weird little like tufts of carpet out of the rock and like save them in a box. That sounds serial killer like. But I believe it was probably related to OCD. I don't like at the time. I didn't think about it. I think I thought it was just socially unjust that the cross country team was getting the shaft every year. I mean, I also play basketball, which is hilarious, because I don't look like a basketball player. But um, we had the same thing. I mean, maybe it was women's sports because like I. You know, we had had gross things like that. Um. And I actually do remember getting a pair of basketball shorts one year that had blood in them. I'm sure it was. Someone had their period and hadn't been washed. And my mom washed them right before the game. And I was like, holding them out the window of the of the bus driving us to the basketball game to like, drive them off before I put them on. So I don't know what like was that OCD. Or was it just like it's gross to wear something with someone else's period? Blood on it. You know. So it it really. It really started developing more in college. And then like, I think, escalated when I moved to New York in nineteen ninety eight, probably because, you know, there's lots of things detection, New York City. I don't know. I'm sure it would have happened anywhere.
Jodi KatzWell. Thank you for this segway Because I wanted to ask about your start in magazine worlds. What was your big break?
Amy Keller LairdTo get into this industry. Yeah. I mean, I did move to New York without a job or an apartment, though. It was much easier to get jobs back then. So I don't want to be like, oh, it was so hard. Um. You know which you basically had to do? Right. Like no one's hiring you with an address from Missouri. Like they're just gone. And I applied for a bunch of jobs and I ended up getting a job as a copy editor at Redbook R I P Redbook the the print edition. At least I didn't want to be a copy editor for life. I mean, I deeply respect that art, but it's a very particular type of of detail work. I still have the Hawkeye. I will spot a grammatical error. It would be like I'd be editor in Chief of women's health. And I was like, copy editing pages because I was like, can't stop my songs. You can't not see it. I can't not see it, but it was. It was. It was a way in and then eventually, you know, I was there andThe you know, this is when we circulated hard copy. Right. Like a magazine page would like go around from person to person, and they would sign off on it and make their comments and cut it to fit. And all of these things and the beauty editor, a position open in the beauty department and beauty editor. The beauty director at the time was like, I really like the kinda like the comments and the edits you've been making. So I kind like bust into beauty that way again, didn't really know what existed kinda fell into it. I think it's a thing people go into now purposefully now. But at that time, I think most of the beauty editors I know from my generation were like, oh, yeah, I kind of fell into it. Even though a neighbor randomly told me like, oh, you are into makeup and all that stuff like all the time. Growing up. And I was like, listen, I'd like that. So I don't know, anyway and and beauties an interesting thing if you're interested in style. But you're also interested in science duties kind of area to go into because you can. Really get into delivery systems and ingredients and like efficacy and clinical studies and dermatologists and cosmetic chemists. I mean, I was the big cosmetic chemist nerd of lower. So I want to talk about when you were working. It seems like at some point in your height of your career, you were sharing with your peers and bosses that you have OCD, where you actually saying the words out loud. What a view. I guess the courage to say that. Yeah. I mean, I guess I, I remember at allure. You know, I worked at a lower twice. I was the beauty director and there were a lot of OCD hazards and being a beauty editor if you are scared of blood or red so like I have this weird fear of blood. I think everything's contaminated and I think everything red is blood. Even though I know it's not right. Like I'll see a marker and the editor in Chief always writes in a red pen, right. So there'd be like red smears on things. A there's that. And then I became the editor she I wrote in red pen are still scared by my own smears. But whatever there's red lipstick, there's like bread. Nail Polish. There's everything all over the.
Amy Keller LairdYeah. It's like, right. Like I'd see a red nail Polish and there'd be like nail Polish spill on the bottle. And I'd still be like this a lot, you know, like like I say, this phrase was upload, um, it became kind of like a catch phrase, which was fine because it's like kind of funny. But so my team at allure knew this because, like, right like we would get in products that we'd be doing the blah jobs or whatever. Maybe like, oh okay. We'll take care of that or write like one year for allure allure has something called Editors' favorites as well as their regular best beauty and an editor's favorites. I mean, in in readers' favorites. One year we called in people's used makeup products to show like how much they loved them. Right. So we were getting in like lipsticks like half used and crumbled. And I was like my state at the time this woman, Lauren, who is now like a VC or something was like, don't worry, I'm going to open it off. Like it was like a very like, kind, thoughtful. I just I don't ever feel like anyone was making fun of me to be honest. Like in the workplace. Who? At least who knew me. Right. And so I don't know. I just I never really thought about not talking about it.
Amy Keller LairdAnd I didn't talk about it publicly. But it wasn't on purpose, right? I just I started doing that a women's health, because then I like kind of had a platform where we were talking about women's health and mental health. And that's when I start talking about it publicly. But I don't know. I don't know if it's you know, OCD and you know you. And I talked about this a little bit before, but like it's kind of the socially acceptable mental illness quote. Unquote for for the podcast. Right. Where? Because it's been because it's a thing that got misconstrued as this like thing about neatness or whatever I'm like, literally the least neat person like I have piles all over the place. People somehow like accepted it or write like there. Was that show monk or like, you know, I don't know? And like it became it became quirky. And so now there's this whole movement to say.
Amy Keller LairdI'm not just quirky. OCD is not quirky, right. But like looking back. It's like, well, is that why it was okay for me to say, what would I have said it if I wrote like people will be like, you're brave because you talked about it? I'm like family? Or is it just like OCD was like more acceptable to say than like, you know, bipolar disorder borderline personality disorder or even depression at the time?
Jodi KatzYou know. Yeah. I mean, it's would be a minefield even today to say like, oh, um, I'm bipolar. Oh. I'm an addict or oh I'm you know, depress. Right. Like it's really fascinating that you are an environment. Where you are able to not just say it. But be yourself, right? So I would imagine that some people people are really afraid to eat them. Yeah. I'd say they're contamination.
Amy Keller LairdYeah. Right. You know, even though it's on their mind all day long and they they're probably trying to find a thousand workarounds totally. And I mean, right, if you get on tik tok, I'm working on a big package about this. You will talk, you will hear people talking about masking. And that is essentially depending on what your condition is or whatever you basically okay. I'm going to work now. And now it's this me, right? And it's like, I'm hiding these things that did. It's very exhausting because other mental health conditions can cause other types of issues that are less tolerated, right. Or you know, or when people don't less tolerate in the workplace either because people don't understand them or it affects the work. And the workplace has figured out how to accommodate it properly? Right. So right. You know, we just ran a story from a woman also in the media industry. Who has a d H d and bipolar too? Which is a form of bipolar this a little less severe than bipolar one. But.
Amy Keller LairdIt did affect her work ratio and lots of issues with deadlines. Focus all of these things. But she wasn't. She didn't have the diagnosis yet, and she wasn't getting the right treatment yet. And so like, that's a whole nother minefield. Like getting through all that stuff up because of that. Like when you don't a know what's going on with you. You don't know how to say that to your workplace and then be, you know, even if you do know that's the case, even mental health organizations will say, yes, it's great if we can all speak up. But like legally it's hard to tell someone. Yes. You should just be blunt and open at the workplace. I mean, I as a boss, I have had many, many people divulge to me their their mental health concerns, because I've been so open about it. Right. And we all hope to work at workplaces that are open to these things that I think it's starting to become a thing that people are like overrate, like like if we have people of different like mindset skills, we could actually use that that's actually better right. Because people think in different ways, we might end up with better solutions. Rather than everybody thinks the same way. But you know, I'm I'm divulging here. But I think it's um, it's very tricky in the workplace.
Jodi KatzSo nice. You know, I was, um, I think this was like during covid or right like, you know, on the tail end of like the restrictive code, It was a writer for I think it's like a business newspaper article sent me questions about like mental health in the workplace, because like as an agency, we have like a lot of things in place that I I would call them last mental health and just more like it. Yeah. Emotional freedom. And you know, room to breathe kind of things. And they were asking me questions about like, you know, what do you do when someone comes to you with, you know, a mental health situation? And I'm like, I'm not answering these questions. I am not a Doc. Yeah. Not like I run a business like this. Is that there's there's this, I think, mix up or confusion around like many will health disorders or orders or whatever we want to call them and having room for your brain to breathe because workers
Amy Keller Lairdwell, yeah? And I am not essentially during may mental health awareness month. There's also conversation saying mental health is not mental illness, you know, we all have mental hell, right. And we can all rights. You know what? But you couldn't have a meme. mental illness. Which you know whether or not you like that word or not? I don't know how I feel like it makes me feel weird. I'd rather say I have a mental health condition, but to each his own right around I should stand on the lives.
Jodi KatzDon't sing their own to each their own. We're just humans their own. But it's it right? It gets. It's gets lumped in with his general like wellness. You know, right. Right. Like I can help my team by saying, okay, let's not work on Friday or let's have some more Fridays or you know, subsidize gym memberships or whatever it is so that they can like fee feel more whole because work is hard. And you know, there's a lot of pressures and I want them to, you know, feel good going to work. That is not the same as a employee coming to me and saying, I have a mental illness. This is my diagnosis. I don't like, you know I'm not a doctor, right. So I think that we really need. And also of the, um, the legal ramifications from an employment, the legal employment perspective of like what can be divulged? How? Ah. How a supervisor can handle this?
Amy Keller LairdThis is like really a new world, right. I mean, it can be a minefield. Right it. It really depends on your Boss or Corporation because legally you're not supposed to discriminate for these things, but. Say you divulge. And three months down the road you get, let go. And they say, oh, but it was your work and, you know, like, it's just impossible, right. Um. So you really have to kind of. I mean, I'm not the one really to answer this either. Because I'm not a workplace mental health expert, but you kind of have to see like who you dealing with there and and like what the corporate policy is R. And I as have been a boss of very large teams women's health. I had a team of forty. I also worked a corporate job or a team of fifty and have had people you know. It's it's very hard because we've had people who would take off and say, I'm an and Gen Z is much more open about this. And I had a lot of Gen Z years and my last job, and and they would they would just outwardly say, right. I am in a bout of depression. I need to take a week off or X, Y Z.
Jodi KatzIn it's sort of like we just have to figure out a system where the work can still get done. Right. Because what like physical health you'd never be like, oh, you have to be out for surgery for a week? How dare you write and so like our mind snaps to like, oh, great. But like, why are we thinking that way? Because if you had to go get a physical health treatment or you were, I don't know you, you you. You had to be at a hospital for a while. We wouldn't penalize you for having a physical problem. It's really interesting. Where like John Fetterman? You know, the Senator recently went to mental health treatment and was just like outgoing. And then like, that was kind of an amazing thing, because, like, you need help you got the help, you know. Alright. So I love this topic of like lines roads.
Amy Keller LairdAnd were they Criss cross? So you're we're talking about like I am in a crisis. And I need support. And that might be, you know, hospitalization. Outpatient? You know, whatever. Then there is that well, how do you contribute to this ecosystem of work when you're not in a crisis. Yeah. And I think I mean, right. That's something that I think is just emerging of how people are going to write be able to accommodate people's various needs and how they can contribute. Right. And it can be certain small things such as like, you know, do we all have to turn the camera on? Do we all have to do this right if you have a certain? Um anxiety issue that that involves right like speaking in front of people. Now we're all on camera all the time. Like what? So I just a lot of people just started thinking about that. It's just like, get on camera or you know. And I'm just using that as an example. But um, or you know, say, you really struggle in the mornings will write. Could you talk to your boss? We did a story about this. And the you know, the expert opinion was like, obviously so who you're.
Jodi KatzYes. And the company bought if you could ask for an accommodation where you started ten am or whatever. And but but you know, you have to be there at this Friday meetings that everybody's there. You know. But then you work an extra hour after the fact or whatever. I don't know. You know, it's really a minefield, right. Because there's so many things. But we do work around people's physical health schedules. And so in some way, as human beings, we have to figure out a way to still get business done, you know, right, but but work around people's mental health, right. So I would say that when we when we look at it from the perspective of like, you know, I need surgery on my leg. Of course everyone's like, okay. You're going to the hospital. Then you're going to be recuperating. And you know, under medication in your under your covers for for a week. So that's the crisis. Right. Then there's the I guess repair mode or you know on the men.
Amy Keller LairdOK. So obviously you can't get in the car and drive to the office. So you're gonna work? You're gonna work from home, right? So then we're starting to build, um, like you said, like opportunities to have accommodation set. But I think the difference with some of the physical things is that in people's minds, the managers mind the business owner's mind. This will this will pass, and then Susie will might be back to you know her legs working. Just fine.
Amy Keller LairdWell the goal, obviously for mental health is for you to be functioning better. Um if you're getting treatment, you know, right. And that's absolutely possible. So that's so right. You come out of the crisis situation, the goal and the hope would be that you would be able to function. But I think there are physical like people who have chronic physical conditions or are in a wheelchair like that. That's a constant state, right.
Jodi KatzBut we can see those right? That's a different. Right. And those are their accommodations made. We can see what we can see those for a lot of for a lot of things. And I think that's when people.
Amy Keller LairdYeah. People don't. I mean, it's true of physical illnesses that he will also can't see things like fibromyalgia, or like chronic fatigue syndrome or things like that where you look normal. And so people don't get it. And they're like, what's wrong with you. But I think we're gonna have to make accommodations, particularly because Jesse's non could take the other element of this, I think, is as humans.
Amy Keller LairdWe just were not. If you're not the doctor, you don't know a lot about the stuff. So what? What are you seeing? Oh bipolar. That's the end. It's over like this person. Never going to be a contributor or they're gonna be awful deal with Great Lakes. I have stories in our heads for movies TV. Whatever of what. How this shows up? So I think, as a public of collection of people who work and have people reporting to them and want to create success in their careers, there's misinformation or no information about how is this gonna show up on everyday basis when this person lying.
Jodi KatzYeah. That's right. There's quite a lot of doubt that this person can because we just don't. You know we're not informed. Well yes. And you know, that is one of the things that can happen when you do divulge, you may not be getting the promotion or the big project of the thing because of misconceptions. I think that's part of the mission. Mental right to like have these stories that are like what it's like to live and work with this right. Like and how I got through it and how I went through it. And I think the more people have to kind of take it upon themselves to educate themselves a little bit here to write. Because most of these conditions, many of them can be highly managed. And you can like do all the things or do most of the things or figure out a way to do the things if you're being treated, right. And I think it's why.
Amy Keller LairdRight. Like old school, old school media. Or you know movies or whatever would depict mental health in a very certain way, as like, we'll share to Africa to function in society. Right. Whereas now things are far more nuanced, right? I mean, like, look at homeland height, you know, the Claire Danes character had bipolar disorder. There's a lot of things like that. Um. I also I would say, there's probably people working for you who have these conditions. And you don't even know, because I have people coming to me telling me they have conditions all the time that they aren't divulging. So you know, yes. We we really, we really do need to like bus through the stigma of some of these things by really dispelling the myths of what we've created and remind of what it means. And I think that's like the more people come out and talk about. Whether it's celebrities or everyday humans talk about having X condition or X disorder and getting through it. It's really powerful. You know, there's a lot of therapist now who talk about themselves having had anxiety or depression or going to therapy and this and that and that, like, you know, I did not use to be the case, right. Because people were like, well, no one was going to want to come to be if I say I buy. So you know, it's like it's you know, it's a cycle, but hopefully we're starting to change whatever listeners and wrote duty to accommodate is part of human rights. And I agree. I agree. I mean, I also think that like it's going to become like the thing where first there was like, no women in the c-suite, right. And then all the studies started coming out saying that like companies are actually more productive. And make more revenue when you have women at the top. And I think it would be very interesting. And I hope someone starts doing these studies to see when you've got a group of neuro divergent people with different minds and different mindsets and a comment. Come at problems in a different way. If you could harness that, it would be good for business. It's just you have to allow it to have happen? Right. Or you have to say, you know. Okay. This person is gonna work in this way, but like what they're contributing is like, really rounding out like we're not all coming at this with the same like problem solution. So I mean, that's some sure down the road. But but like that would be the hose a lot of work to do here. What I think like some other, um, outcome social justices and then workplace topics like we can make change.
Jodi KatzYou quickly write it as um, not. Every organization will change. But I think there's you know something like mine, like we're all really interested in this and invested in it. And by the way, that number of that fifty percent of people will have mental illnesses. I think it's way more like I don't know how it could only be half the population reported. Right. Reported.
Amy Keller LairdOh I'm sure. I'm sure it is. It's just like that's who has vote old, right? Those yeah, that's his reported. And so you can become an organization. I can't remember the exact name but Nami which the National Alliance on mental illness has a set of sort of guidelines that if your company will follow that you can have like that stamp of like we are, you know, Nami type business. And um, you know, I did a lot of partnerships with them at women's health or their their great organiser nation are one of the top mental health nonprofits. And so I think that starts to happen and in that, you know, again, I don't know why I'm making this connection between women-owned businesses, right. But like, there's a seal of approval here? Right now. Right. If like women own businesses and so like, it's like Nami, has that going now for businesses that will.
Jodi KatzYou know, agree to this kinda like credo. They have alright. I'm gonna my unchecked message to my team. We want to research Nami and see, um, yeah. So they also educating us on that. Okay. We are nearing the end of our interview portion of the show. Amy. So I want to say, thank you for sharing your wisdom. I still have like forty questions. Anything. I want to save room for our game and fan questions. So thank you. Thank you. Thank you for sharing your wisdom and your it's moving that you're spending, you know you. You've put your whole career into this. And I think it's really speaks to how important this is. And what a whitespace is from a communications perspective and sixteen perspective. And I'm grateful that you spent time with us today.
Amy Keller LairdOh thank you so much.
Jodi KatzOK. This is a very good question and it actually comes from my company's COO. Aleni is contamination OCD similar to being a German folk. I wonder if I've been using the wrong words for how I feel.
Amy Keller LairdThat's a really interesting question. I don't know the clinical definition of Germaphobe. But I would consider myself a germ of pho and I would say, like at it's heart. Yes. Probably um, at the same time. It's like, how severe is the germ phobia? I write this. This is always what distinguishes like a mental health disorder from just like none of us want to like, reach into a pile of poop. You know what I mean? Like the scrubs. So is your germ phobia affecting your daily life in a way that's like INTE or fearing with like life and work and this and that? So I think germ phobias, probably a bigger, a broader name. And if you have it in such a way that it is affecting you, it could be contamination of CD. Right. So it's a difference between being grossed out by gross stuff versus not leaving the house because you're so overwhelmed by the potential for growth. Yeah. Right. Or like having your thoughts on loop like every time I shake someone's hand. If I can't get the girl, I'm thinking about it. I remember it. It's an hour's gone by. I need the purell. I remember it. I washed my hands eighty times a day. They are like so dried out. I have the best hand cream, you know, like I have sanitizer in every purse like I have to write like I ask people to wash their hands. Right. It's not just like I will say normal people like, oh, my God, you know, like, okay, you're at a bar. You go to the bathroom like this is like TMI. But like, right like the pee splashes off the seat and onto your leg and you're like normal people. Normal people, quote unquote will just be like, oh yeah. I fought with girls because I like moved on like I will move on. I'll be like my legs are contaminated now. I can't wear these pants again when I get home. I have to take the pants off. I'm gonna jump in the shower. Right is so like there's a whole series of events that surround that. So I think you could be Germaphobe without having contamination. So let's just go back to a moment because I want to understand this a little bit more. So thank you for the team. I referenced the bathroom slash, as your mind is spinning through these thoughts and your you know taking it.
Amy Keller LairdLike getting the pants dry cleaned is what's happening that you're so focused on your thoughts that you're. You're not present without saying your friends at the bar? Like is it taking you out of it? It can. Yeah. I mean, it definitely can. I think it also depends on the person. Right. It depends on the severity of the OCD. I mean, I I don't know. No one's ever told me this, but I think I I have like a mild to moderate version, right. Like I can go out. I can do things I can like. But I mean, I've also had like therapy. I take medication. I do all the things so right. But there are people who literally like cannot, as you said, leave the house for fear of like having to touch the things. I mean, I haven't really hard time in hotels. It really takes the joy out of fancy hotels, because because there's always a spot. The result was something there's a hair. I mean, I will see it? Right. It's it's like or write like no one else has even noticing the beautiful white, fluffy towels. Oh. There's like a slight discoloration like my eyelid zones into it. And I'll be like, oh, I can't use it now.
Amy Keller LairdSo yeah, I mean it. It can take you out of the moment or it could just write like I'm just waiting to like solve it right. And and and the goal of OCD therapies to allow yourself to have the thoughts and just like, move on and go go on about it. I'm not quite as evolved, right. I'm not quite there yet, but. Um. So you're it's not about learning to not have the thoughts because that's not honoring who you are and saying, okay, the thought is property. But I'm I'm going to acknowledge that I was happy. And then move on with my day.
Jodi KatzYeah. I mean, it's not even about acknowledging it's not even like honoring who you are. It's more that you cannot control thoughts like intrusive thoughts. We recently did a story on this. Everyone has intrusive thoughts. So a thing pops into your brain might be disturbing or whatever.
Amy Keller LairdIf you don't have like a mental health condition around this right, it kind of goes out? If you do, it's like in there you're like, oh, my God, do I really think this my horrible person was popping into my brain. Why? I'm like, oh my God. Am I going to actually do that? I'm gonna. And so you'll treat you like your instinct would be to, like, push it away and be like, I'm not thinking of that. I'm distracted that I like the way to actually allow these thoughts. You have like what therapists will say and get. I'm not a therapist, but I've done a lot of research and talk to a ton of people. What they say is you have to allow the thought to come in. And you have to be like, hey, thought, okay, you're here. But like, you're just thought, you're not an action, right. Yeah. You just are, you're there. I mean, I literally interviewed an artist the other day. Ah. A singer. Who said she has like this? Intrusive thought she named Shimei. Shame. Chennai and now she's like, learn how to have convo's with Shimei. And so I you know, some people name their CD level like, oh, hey someone. So you know, um, I don't really have a name for my CD. And and I need to get better about this. But but you have to like, you have to go like the thoughts are not who I am as a human being, like, look at my behavior, right. If I was like an evil human being, I'd be like doing all these things. The fact is with O C D your. So Antifa thought and you have to like, remember that and you're right, the goal is to like sort of blooded in accept it. Acknowledge it. And then eventually it loses power where I mean, I guess it's it's like anything in life, right. Like the more you like. Kind of, like. Hold onto it like the more power it has over you when you can just kind of like, okay.
Jodi KatzLike you're able to kind of move on. I love that I got to meet you because this is so exciting for me to learn about this. We have no time left for more fan questions, but I do want to bring something a little full circle to early in your career. You said you were like really into science and learning about like you're doing that now again. Like you're like even deeper.
Amy Keller LairdRight. I'm sure. I know I want. I want to go back and actually become a therapist. I used to want to become a cosmetic chemist because I was like, I'll be the best beauty and remember. And now I'm like, I need to be a therapist. Well I mean, you're making an impact. Right. And you get to make an impact. Not just one on one when she would do as a therapist, but with a much larger population and you're getting a conversation starter started that new.
Jodi KatzAnd and thank you for all the advice and guidance. Thank you. Me. So I feel like I'm ready. I appreciate that. You're gonna like, have a good day. Thank you so much, Amy. And thank you so much for joining us. Everyone. Who listened in if you'd like this episode please rate and review and as always make sure you're following us on your favorite podcast platform and Instagram to stay up-to-date on upcoming episodes and all the fun we have along the way? Thanks for joining. Thank you so much. I CA, ah, thanks for listening to where brains meet beauty with Jody katz tune in again for more authentic conversations with beauty leaders.

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