December 03, 2021

We Know So Much More Now…

From the Clinician AND From the Lived Experience

Last spring we posted about mind-body insights and tools for stress regulation that we learned from Dr. Kathleen Mackenzie at the Active Minds conference, and recently we had a chance to catch up with her directly.  Dr. Mackenzie’s insights are especially powerful since they stem from a broad academic and clinical career, as well as personal life experiences with racial concerns and mental and physical health issues. Dr. Mackenzie’s background motivated her to develop a scientific understanding of the factors that contribute to our overall functioning and wellbeing. 

As outlined in her bio, Dr. Mackenzie has a background in clinical social work across various settings, academic contributions at Northeastern University, and certification in mental health integrative medicine. As she personally addressed her health ‘through the help of alternative medicine and a lot of research, she realized that individual, social, and group dysfunction has a lot to do with a lack of knowledge about how what we do to our bodies and brains not only impacts our health and our lives, but it also impacts the people around us, including family, co-workers, community members, and future generations.’

Much of what we are learning from Dr. Mackenzie is also included in this interview with the New Bedford Guide, where Dr. Mackenzie highlights her views on mental health, regulation, and mind-body concerns. She promotes a need for understanding ourselves and our lives in context, and highlights that help seeking is a good thing.  We invite you to listen as she talks mind-body connections: sleep as ‘the number one thing,’ the importance of setting body clocks and the dangers of electronics, and benefits of good nutrition, sunlight and fresh air, exercise, and other habits for mental health and wellbeing.

Dr. Mackenzie also advocates for screening and awareness, and highlights that the average person experiences a delay of 8-10 years from symptom onset to mental health diagnosis, even as 50% of symptoms appear by age 14 and 75% by age 24. That is a lot of lost time and opportunity, especially when interventions can help change a life’s course and rates of suicide in young people are increasing by 70 to 150%.  As a provider in a local school system she focuses on supporting regulation in her students, much of which can occur through schedules and healthy approaches to physical needs of sleep, exercise, diet, etc.

Dr. Mackenzie hopes that telling her personal story and journey helps to make these considerations more approachable to parents and individuals who need support and information to overcome their fears and get needed help.  As she highlighted in this video from September 2020, we were already in a mental health crisis and Covid is only making things worse.