CPR For Your Mental Health

Mar 31, 2024

We are happy to introduce you to Juliet Meskers, the founder of the mental health education and training company MOTH! Juliet, a passionate mental health trainer, joined forces with renowned psychologists from around the globe to develop a collection of mental health training programs. These courses aim to equip individuals with the knowledge to identify warning signs of suicide, as well as enhance their ability to engage in meaningful conversations about mental health and effectively handle crises. Learn all about Juliet and MOTH in our Q&A interview below! 

What is MOTH Health?

MOTH is a mental health education and training company. Through peer support training, MOTH aims to improve responses to mental health conversations and crises and prevent suicide. MOTH works with schools, first responder units, and companies across all industries. 

What inspired you to start MOTH Health?

I struggled with mental illness my entire life, but was not diagnosed until I went to college. After I began treatment, I became extremely involved in the mental health awareness world and eventually became the VP of a mental health non-profit called Friends4Friends. I threw myself into my work and felt that I was doing everything I could to be the best mental health advocate possible, until I lost a friend to suicide. I spent so much time feeling guilty and confused and asking myself, how can I consider myself to be such a mental health advocate and yet I couldn’t help my own friend? After lots of rumination and therapy, I came to the conclusion that despite how much effort I had put into raising awareness about mental illness, I didn’t actually understand it. Our school systems and our institutions lack mental health education, and we were never taught how to recognize when someone was seriously struggling or how to offer them proper support. After doing more research, I learned that 70% of people who receive a mental health diagnosis don’t seek out treatment. This brought me to my second conclusion: people fear what they don’t understand. That fear leads to negative assumptions, and those negative assumptions perpetuate a stigma that serves as a pervasive barrier that prevents people from getting the help that they need. All of these realizations connected back to a desperate need for mental health education. I researched and researched, and continued to come up short when looking for educational resources or platforms. Finally, I decided to take on this issue myself, and started MOTH. 

What are some common misconceptions about mental health?

There are plenty of misconceptions about mental health, and it would take forever to list them all. But to focus on one, a big misconception about mental health is that people who are struggling don’t want to talk about it, and it’s best not to inquire about whether or not someone is okay. Most people who are struggling don’t bring it up to others, because they don’t know how or because they fear they’ll be a burden- not because they’d rather stay isolated in their struggles. If you notice significant negative or concerning changes in someone’s behavior, you should always check in on them. One way to bring up the conversation with someone you’re worried about is to say, “Hey, I noticed (insert change in behavior), and I wanted to check in to make sure you’re doing alright.” Another huge misconception is that asking someone if they are suicidal will plant the idea of suicide in their heads. This myth has been debunked countless times through research. A simple inquiry about whether someone is thinking about killing themselves will not give them the idea, but rather break down the stigma surrounding the topic and open the floor for them to share their truth. If they are not suicidal, they will simply clarify this with you, and most likely appreciate that you cared enough to ask. 

What types of kits and training do you offer?

MOTH offers different variations of one training called Mental Health Intervention Training. Our training is a certification course that will teach participants how to identify mental health concerns in others, provide peer support, and connect them to treatment. It’s like CPR but for mental health. The course helps implement preventative strategies and teaches how to provide crisis support.  

What do you hope people get out of MOTH Health?

My hope is that MOTH helps educate people on mental health and makes them more comfortable discussing it in all areas of life. 

Will you give us some tips on how to relax and unwind?

When thinking about mental health coping strategies, it’s important to remember that mental health is not only psychological but also physical. Sometimes when a mind exercise doesn’t do the trick, we can turn to tangible tools as well. For example, YouTube is an amazing tool. If you wake up in the morning and are feeling anxious, unfocused, distressed, etc. you can simply go on youtube and type in “guided meditation for ______,” and listen to a 10-minute video to soothe your thoughts. I always recommend listening to guided meditations in the shower where you have limited distractions, and nobody can interrupt you. However, if this doesn’t do the trick, try something physical. For example, if you’re feeling overwhelmed and need to center yourself, you can try using a random object as a meditation device. Let’s use a mint for this example. Take a mint, and observe its characteristics using your five senses. What does it look like, taste like, sound like when you bite into it, feel like against your tongue or teeth? As you slowly hyperfocus on the sensory attributes of one item, it will help decrease sensory overload going on around you. Doing this will also decrease your chances of anxiety turning into a panic attack. 

What are some ways you take care of yourself?

Working in mental health has been such a wild journey, because I’ve gone through so many highs and lows and there have been plenty of times where I’ve struggled to practice what I preach. It’s really easy to lose sight of your personal practice when you are so busy focusing on everyone else. With that said, there have been many developments in my self care routine over time, and they’ve been essential to keeping me sane. The first thing I do every morning is meditate. Whether it’s for 5 minutes or 20, I make sure I get one in and 99% of the time they’re guided. Meditating on your own is something that takes a long time to master, so for those out there who have given up on meditating for that reason, I’d really encourage them to ease back into it and use tools for guidance. Something else that is so essential for me is taking my medication and vitamins every day. Now, this isn’t something that’s necessarily relevant to everyone, but for me mental health medicine has changed my life. That said, finding the right medication and going through the trial and error was truly agonizing, so if you’re going through it right now and you feel there is no hope, I’m sending you all my love, and do your best to hang in there. Make sure you’re advocating for yourself throughout the process and if your doctor isn’t listening to you, find another one. The last thing I’ll share is my gratitude practice. Making a list of 5-10 things you are grateful for every day is such a huge game changer. Recently I’ve been pretty bad about it, and so one of my friends just started texting me what they are grateful for every morning, and I send a list back and man does it make a difference. 

How did you choose the name, MOTH Health?

The choosing of the name MOTH or MOTH Health was such a process. We used to be called Mental Health Global Network, which was a name nobody ever remembered and was boring as hell. After three years we needed a rebrand. We hired a professional namer and they went through hundreds of names with us. None of them felt right or were already taken. Finally, our graphic designer Max Gold decided he’d try designing a logo before a name. He came up with the logo of a moth. Initially I was so confused, until he explained why. The most notable characteristic of a moth is its attraction to light. Our goal as a company is to teach people how to lead towards the light during periods of darkness. They are known for their healing powers and their wisdom, and while they often live in the shadow of the butterfly, they can be equally beautiful and are equally as important to the ecosystem. This reminds us that we all matter in this world regardless of how we see ourselves. Similarly to butterflies, moths also go through a metamorphosis, which reminds us that we are always capable of a transition in life. MOTH ended up being the perfect name for us. MOTH also happens to stand for Minds Open To Heal. Oh, and the “health” part at the end? Well, really we just needed a signifier that we weren’t selling moth eggs, plus the domain moth.com was unavailable. We’ll see if it sticks. 

What are some of your top tips for entrepreneurs?

Hang in there. Starting and running a company will be one of the hardest things you do in your life. Lots of people will tell you it’s not worth it. You’ll get burnt out and tired and feel broke and want to quit. But at the end of the day, if you’re doing something you’re passionate about, you’re luckier than 99% of the world. 

Our country is currently experiencing a mental health crisis yet there aren’t places for people experiencing mental health-related issues to go and the hospitals don’t have room. Any thoughts on solutions? 

I wish I had answers to this question. Our healthcare system in the US is not designed to benefit the citizens in this country. There are so many issues with access to affordable healthcare in general and unfortunately mental health is way down on that list. This is the reason why peer support and community effort can go such a long way. If we can’t lean on our government to support us, all we can do is lean on one another. Right now getting mental health care and support is so hard, but a lot of young companies and nonprofits are trying to do what they can to play a part in changing that. There is still hope and there is help out there. Be willing to do the research and you will find the support that you need. 

What’s next for you?

We’re nearly five years in but it really feels like we have just begun. MOTH will be my focus for a while. As for the company, we are doing our best to partner with as many organizations as possible that we can help refer our clients to or that can add to our existing services. I have written legislation to mandate mental health education in the state of CA, and am working on doing so for New York and other states as well. As of now, nothing has been passed. 

Where can people find you?

People can find us at www.mothhealth.com, on instagram we are @mothhealth, twitter or (X) we are @mothhealth and tiktok we are @mothmentalhealth 

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