Editor’s Note: It was such an incredible conversation with a woman that I look up to, and that is Lindsay Kolsch. Lindsay Kolsch is the co-director for a mental health organization that is near and dear to our hearts called “To Write Love On Her Arms”. Their focus is having a platform that deals with the issues of self-harm and suicide prevention. This week, they are launching for National Suicide Prevention Week “Worth Living For”. “Worth Living For” is written by Levi The Poet and Lindsay wanted to share these words to talk about the meaning behind this campaign for National Suicide Prevention Week:
“This year has been hard for so many people – disruption and disconnection, uncertainty and changes – have become a part of our everyday lives. We know that people need other people and that connection is important not to us just as humans, but to our mental health as well. We want this year’s campaign to focus on the things that bring us hope, the things that are worth living for – collectively and personally. We believe that having this conversation and connecting those struggling to mental health resources can be life-saving.”
People can participate by purchasing the organization’s World Suicide Prevention Day pack, joining the conversation online using #WorthLivingFor and #WSPD20, and tagging @TWLOHA, and by donating to the campaign. TWLOHA will directly invest every dollar from the campaign into sponsoring 3,500 counseling sessions and supporting 45,000 searches for free or affordable mental health care using their FIND HELP Tool.
In this conversation with Madness To Creation, Lindsay Kolsch of To Write Love On Her Arms discusses how she got started with this incredible organization, what we can do to help and how they have navigated through the Covid-19 pandemic. Fans can check out www.worthlivingfor.com and find To Write Love On Her Arms at the following locations:
Madness To Creation: Here at Madness To Creation, we take passion into what you do. What is your personal story behind getting involved with this incredible organization?
Lindsay: I grew up in Central Florida and during my freshman year in college, my roommate shared a story about a friend she knew from Orlando who was struggling. They were trying to get her help and into a treatment program. It turned out that this was the same story and individual who inspired TWLOHA Founder Jamie Tworkowski to write the original story that sparked the movement. And as a few years passed, I continued to meet people who were passionate about and advocating for those struggling. After I completed my degree, I was looking for something that would allow me to make the world a little closer to the one I wanted to live in. I started working at TWLOHA in 2009 as the Intern Program Director. The more I learned about mental health, the more the pieces of my own story and life made more sense and empowered me to support those in my family who struggled with depression and anxiety. This drove me to become more and more passionate about helping the organization grow and give people access to resources and support.
Madness To Creation: What does a day in the life look like to you as Co-Director for To Write Love on Her Arms?
Lindsay: As the Co-Executive Director, I oversee all of our business operations including our Finance and Fundraising teams, our FIND HELP Program, and in this season, guide our various teams through executing our biggest campaign of the year in honor of World Suicide Prevention Day (on September 10). I may start my day reviewing the latest podcast edits, collaborating on the content for our next LIVE event on Instagram or Facebook, or touching base with my Fundraising team as we work to raise $250,000 in order to provide 3,500 counseling scholarships and 45,000 searches through our FIND HELP Tool. I love that I have the chance to stay connected to the conversation we’re helping create online, while also making sure that the organization has the support it needs to continue this work now and into the future. Some days there are definitely more bills and paperwork, but ultimately all of the various parts of my job make it easier for someone to connect to hope and find help.
Madness To Creation: We focus on music too, what are a few songs that are a soundtrack to your life, that help you carry on?
Lindsay: On days when I need a mood boost or mood shift, my music can get pretty random. You can find me listening to Babe Rainbow or DaBaby or even Otis Redding. But most of the time my life soundtrack is pretty mellow — Novo Amor, Bon Iver, The National, or Active Child are usually playing in the background. My husband and I have also been heading down a nostalgic lane lately and find ourselves listening to more Red Hot Chili Peppers and the late 90’s hits. Sometimes you need something with good memories to carry you through.
Madness To Creation: I’m curious if you have seen an increase of volunteering or reaching out due to the Covid-19 pandemic?
Lindsay: We definitely did see an increase in participation in our Run For It 5k spring event. It’s an opportunity to move your body (in whatever way you can) and promote physical and mental wellness. The campaign doubled in size with people running or walking in every state and over 15 countries. We are also seeing more people sharing the message that it’s okay to not be okay. And right now we need that permission — because how else do you get through a worldwide pandemic? I can’t count the number of calls with other companies or partners where the question of “how are you?” was not met with platitudes but with an honest “terrible” or “it’s not great,” and that is sort of refreshing when you don’t have to fake how you’re feeling.
Madness To Creation: What adjustments have you had to make in response to this pandemic and civil unrest?
Lindsay: Our team’s focus from Day 1 was trying to answer the question, “How can we show up for people right now?” We built a self-care page as people found themselves at home and we wanted to offer not only hopeful content and conversation, but resources and ways they could access help virtually. As our country witnessed the deaths of countless Black men and women at the hands of the police, we wanted to use the voice we have to say that if you care about mental health, you have to care about Black mental health and the way systemic racism impacts the lives of BIPOC every day in our country. We worked to create a resource list by and for the Black community. We know that race is not something left at the door when people step into a counseling session, and so helping to elevate voices in this space has been incredibly important. And recently, the CDC reported that 1 in 4 young adults have contemplated suicide because of the pandemic in the last month. That means there is a very real and urgent need to help more people see that there is so much more Worth Living For as we approach National Suicide Prevention Week.
Madness To Creation: What can our country do to help make mental health a priority?
Lindsay: We can start by sharing the message with our friends, family, and community members that it’s okay to talk about what you’re experiencing — that help exists. Stigma keeps people silent and from getting the help they need and deserve. For too long, mental health was not a part of our overall approach to healthcare and we’re seeing the repercussions across all areas. We also believe that our votes count. We continue to encourage people to use their voice to support leadership that gives people access to mental healthcare, resources, and support.
Madness To Creation: What can a publication like Madness To Creation do to increase awareness?
Lindsay: I think running stories like this one and continuing to cover stories that use people-first language when dealing with mental health is so helpful. And, of course, sharing resources. The resources do exist but there’s always been a big gap between the people who need access to them and those ready to offer help.
Madness To Creation: What are some things that you’re going to put together to observe National Suicide Prevention Week?
Lindsay: Each day during National Suicide Prevention Week (September 6-12), you can find a unique action step at WorthLivingFor.com that will help you amplify a conversation about suicide prevention and take action to reverse the growing rate of suicide. This includes simple steps like adding mental health and crisis resources to your contacts in your phone so you can easily share them, being able to recognize signs of suicidal ideation, donating or raising funds to provide more treatment and recovery scholarships, and ways you can reach out to those you care about.
Madness To Creation: What can Madness To Creation do to help?
Lindsay: We can’t underestimate how important it is to share stories about mental health experiences and what resources are available. We find that the stigma surrounding mental health leaves people feeling isolated, but when we share stories and provide opportunities for connection, it gives folks the opportunity to say “I need help” without experiencing shame. Mental health is a human experience and continuing to talk about it throughout the year is what advocating for acceptance and care looks like.
And there you have it! I cannot stress this enough. Given everything that has happened in 2020, whether it be the global Coronavirus pandemic, the civil unrest due to police brutality towards black people in America, job loss, unemployment, businesses closing, and so much more, and political division in this country, it is so important to reach out. Message us on here or leave a comment below. We want to help in any way that we can. It starts with me. From the bottom of my heart Lindsay, thank you so much for taking time out of your insanely busy schedule to answer our questions. We want to be a light in the dark in the world of music and mental health. If you’re reading this, you’re loved and you’re worth it.