Breaking The Stigma w/ Mind Yr Life Founder Dr. Luisa Sanz
Dr. Luisa Sanz is a psychiatrist with over 25 years of experience working mainly with young people. She is immensely passionate about her work, and at the root of all she does, is the drive to help others through understanding, acceptance, compassion, respect and love. Such passion and devotion are unquestionably the results of having two brothers with schizophrenia and living its consequences from the age of 7. Being originally from Madrid, Spain, she moved to England at the age of 26 to specialize in Psychiatry and still lives there. Throughout her professional career, Dr. Sanz has actively contributed to developing services, improving the provision of care for individuals with ADHD/ASD and their families, including developing pathways to optimize diagnosis and treatment. Her special interest has always been in neurodevelopmental disorders, particularly ADHD but also ASD, and this is where she’s mainly focussed her work. During her recent career break working as a regional Clinical Director for Mental Health services in the National Health Service, Dr. Sanz founded Mind Yr Life for the purpose of eradicating the stigma around Mental Health (MH). Mind Yr Life does so by, firstly, sharing credible information on MH conditions/illnesses, secondly, having open and honest conversations about personal experiences with MH problems and, thirdly, adopting an attitude towards a) acceptance and love, b) humbleness with an open mind, and c) staying grateful and positive. Today we’re talking about her organization and the path that lead her here. Enjoy!
In this episode Peter and Dr. Luisa Sanz discuss:
1:12 – Intro and welcome Luisa!
2:17 – So what pushed you towards focusing your work towards ADHD, ADD, ASD?
3:20 – Talk about some of the challenges you went up against; how attitudes towards the neurodiverse and the environment there was prior to, and after your time at NHS?
5:30 – What have you noticed in terms of changing the conversation/ breaking the stigma?
7:22 – How to break stigma?
8:53 – Tell us about your organization Mind Yr Life!
10:00 – We don’t exactly have a blood test for all things neurodiverse, do we
10:50 – Dr. Sanz on her family’s experiences with mental health
11:20 – A bad attitude and ignorance are usually contagious
12:17 – When people don’t know about mental health illnesses, or about most things for that matter they may feel fearful or threatened; and often times they try and put a person down because that makes them feel more in control, more secured. So.. there is a lot of work to be done!
12:54: How can people find more about you and what you’re doing?
On the Web: www.MindYrLife.com
16:00 – Thank you Luisa! Guys, as always, we are here for you and we love the responses and the notes that we get from you so please continue to do that! Tell us who you want to hear on the podcast, we’d love to know. Leave us a review on any of the places you get your podcasts, and if you ever need our help I’m www.petershankman.com and you can reach out anytime via [email protected] or @petershankman on all of the socials. You can also find us at @FasterNormal on all of the socials. It really helps when you drop us a review on iTunes and of course, subscribe to the podcast if you haven’t already! As you know, the more reviews we get, the more people we can reach. Help us to show the world that ADHD is a gift, not a curse!
16:30 – Faster Than Normal Podcast info & credits
[00:00:38] Peter: Ladies and gentlemen, good day, and welcome to another episode of Faster Than Normal. My name is Peter Shankman. This is the number one podcast on ADD and ADHD and I’m thrilled that you joined us today. We have an unusual guest well all of our guests are a little unusual. This one is unusual, cause she’s actually a Doctor. As you know, we have people from all over the world who join us at Faster Than Normal from, from professors to rockstar actual rockstars. Remember we had the band Shinedown. We’ve had politicians, we’ve had CEOs. We’ve had regular ordinary folk and occasionally every once in a while, we’ve brought in an actual doctor and today is one of those days.
Please welcome Dr. Luisa Sanz who is a psychiatrist with over 25 years of experience working mainly with young people, incredibly passionately. Her drive is to help others through understanding acceptance, compassion, respect, and love. She’s originally from Madrid. She moved to England at the age of 26, specialized in psychiatry, still lives there throughout her professional career. She’s contributed to developing services, improving the provision of care for individuals with a ADHD and ASD and their families, including developing pathways to optimize diagnosis and treatment. She spent good number of years as a regional clinical director for mental health services in the national health service, she also founded something called Mind Yr Life for the purpose of eradicating a stigma around mental health mind your life does so by sharing credible information on mental health conditions and illnesses. And by having open honest conversations about personal experiences with mental health problems, and thirdly adopting an attitude towards acceptance and love humbleness and open mind and staying grateful and positive. Well, we are grateful and positively thrilled that you joined us today. Dr. Sanz thank you!
So for taking the time.
[00:02:10] Dr.Sanz: Oh my pleasure. Thank you to you for inviting me!
[00:02:14] Peter: So, what pushed you towards focusing on ADHD and ASD
[00:02:20] Dr.Sanz: I believe that when I first went into specializing in psychiatry, initially I went into adult psychiatry, but I found it a little bit overwhelming because I, I have two brothers who had schizophrenia, and there was too much of the same outside and inside, you know, outside at work and inside at home.
So I decided to specialize in children and adolescent, and I thought that I could possibly intervene early life. Uh, of these, of these people and make a bigger difference. And, uh, without a question of doubt, ADHD is the most common condition in mental health altogether, but much more in children and adolescents.
So being such a common condition, I was just driven towards, um, to, you know, to, to these, these, these conditions.
[00:03:11] Peter: Interesting. And what was the attitude before you joined, um, national, uh, health service? I’m assuming you spent a lot of time focusing on changing the environment and changing the conversation.
How was the attitude before you joined and, and, and can you cite, uh, sort of some of the challenges you went up against, uh, in changing that conversation?
[00:03:32] Dr.Sanz: Yeah. Uh, I think Peter that, uh, for me, because, because I grew up with mental illness at home, you know, through my brothers, I think I, from, from day one, when I became a psychiatrist, I was different in a way to many of the psychiatrists.
Because I had believed mental illness from, you know, very, very close in the household. Uh, so my, my approach was different and I, from the very beginning, I always empathize the empathize, the, the, uh, you know, with patients and, and, and, and felt, felt them closer in my heart. And, uh, and you know, the conversations that I always had were, were around.
Being more compassionate and, and definitely, definitely not judging, not making assumptions and just accepting people for who they are. Um, in, in with ADHD. I, I, I always believe everything happens the, the way it’s meant to. And I was meant to specialize in, in know, neurodevelopmental disorders, ADHD in particular, because, um, more than
anything ADHD. I realize that, you know, precisely we can’t judge, we can’t make assumptions because most of the times those are wrong and people with ADHD my daughter, Peter has ADHD, but people with ADHD are so incredibly creative, charismatic, uh, you know, gifted and, and because of, of others judging and criticizing, we tend to.
You know, hinder all those talents and, and, and beautiful, beautiful personalities. So, um, you know, you, your question was how, how have I tried to change those conversations? How have they changed? I suppose that from, from where I stand, my conversations have always been similar. The response I’ve had is different because for people that know me now, they know they know the type of conversations they can have with me.
[00:05:30] Peter: What have you noticed in terms of changing the conversation? I, I kind of feel sometimes, and I I’m gonna continue to do it, you know, until my last breath, but I sometimes feel like it’s like emptying the ocean with a, trying to empty the ocean with a teaspoon. Right. It’s it’s, you know, for every person that we talk to and explain.
That, uh, different does not equal bad or that, or that, you know, this is not a disability per se. Uh, we come across schools or, or doctors, whatever who, who treat this exactly as such as a disability. And, and when you’re seven years old and you’re diagnosed with ADHD, uh, and you’re told the first thing you’re told, the first thing your parents are told is that you are less than everyone else.
That’s a hard stigma to shape.
[00:06:10] Dr.Sanz: It, it is aweful and, and the conversations have changed because when I first started, you know, working in ADHD 20 odd years ago, um, the, I had to speak to professionals, to doctors about the fact that. It was a genetic condition. It wasn’t about bad parenting. It wasn’t about children just being awkward and difficult and naughty.
And that those conversations were with professionals. I still occasionally have one of those conversations with a doctor, with a teacher, but not as often more often, uh, than not now people accept that it is a condition, that it is a genetic, uh, inherited, uh, condition. But generally people don’t understand how it shows and how it really, uh, what it really means.
And again, this, this very wrong assumptions about, you know, when people, don’t people with ADHD, don’t do certain things. This is still this assumption that they’ve just been awkward and oppositional, whereas, you know, they don’t see what really is happening. In the brain in the executive, you know, function in the, in the brain and in the neuropathways pathways of the brain.
So those conversations are still going on and will continue to go on for a very long time. But Peter, that is about stigma and that is about. You know, uh, you know, how, you know, lack of understanding because there’s two aspects to the conversations. One is the lack of understanding of what it really means.
And the other is, uh, seeing it as a, as you very well defined it as a disability, as a, as a, uh, people are less for having ADHD. So it’s, it is both things. 1. People don’t understand the actual signs and symptoms and how it really presents. And two then is, you know, very stigmatized and is very derogatory the way it’s spoken about.
[00:08:11] Peter: It’s interesting because you know, other diseases, for lack of a better word, other conditions, you know, they, they don’t seem. I guess they don’t see it as stigmatized. Right. You know, you don’t, you don’t look at, um, I mean, mental health as a whole, it has always been stigmatized, but you know, you’re never gonna tell someone with cancer.
Oh, just pull yourself up by your bull straps or just pay attention more. Right. And yet when the condition is unseen, uh, like ADHD or any foreign mental health, it, it, it it’s always seemed like it’s much easier to, um, I don’t wanna say mock it, but much easier to sort of dismiss it. Right. Which is, I think very, very frustrating for millions of people.
Talk to us about, um, uh, Mind your life. I’d love to know a little bit about, uh, this, uh, organization you founded
[00:09:01] Dr.Sanz: well it’s, uh, I’m, I’m incredibly passionate about it because the, the purpose, the reason why I created my new life was precisely to eradicate the stigma. And you very well just mentioned Peter, that, um, you know, with mental health, we, at this moment in time, we can’t get away.
You know, the stigma that is attached to it. And you’re absolutely right with other physical illnesses. You know, people are much more understanding, supportive and, and caring with mental health, uh, is very difficult to get that genuine attitude from, from people in general. And the reason comes from the lack of, uh, uh, research and, and investigations with cancer.
You can get, you know, some, uh, radiology, uh, Investigation to prove, oh, here there’s a tumor. And you can see it is in your livers in here or there, you can do some bood tests and say, yeah, you’ve got anemia. And this is, this is how it shows with mental health. We can’t really, we don’t have any x-rays any blood tests or any other physical.
Investigation that we can prove what the reason, what, the reason which leads to people, just having opinions. You know, we, um, I sometimes have to laugh when, you know, I hear conversations I’m on the, you know, on, on the cafe, whatever people are making, you know, diagnosis about anxiety, depressions, schizophrenia, even.
And I, I think, gosh, you know, most of the psychiatrists you know, that struggle to really, you know, with challenging presentations to get it right. Nevermind people in the streets, but, but we all think we know more than we do. So mind your life was founded because I, I am, you know, uh, very frustrated when I. See in general public, uh, making assumptions about people with mental health problems.
And I lived it. I, you know, I was seven years old when my eldest brother became ill with, with the first signs of his schizophrenia. And, and I, we suffered as a family, the stigma we had to move, uh, house because the neighbors were really harsh and, you know, and then, and then I was a teenager when my second brother became ill.
So even more of the same. And I, you know, I was, I was a young person thinking, gosh, you know, why, why? You know, public professional services are making life so hard for my brothers and for myself, there’s no need for that. And unquestionably Peter. And this is where my heart is. We make people, we make, conditions much harder, much harder because of our, our attitude, because of the way we judge him, the way we, we assume. And, and, and I know my brother one, my eldest brother passed away last January. And, you know, I had beautiful conversations with him before he passed. And I asked him, you know, what, what he would, you know, want to tell people that have mental health problems and, you know, and his words were along the lines of, you know, we we’ve got each other, we understand what we go through.
We just can’t take it to heart, what people say and assume about us, because that would kill us. And, and it’s really sad when, when people with mental health problems live lives like that. So Mind Yr Life was created to really try and influence people’s attitude towards anyone with mental health problem.
In fact, Towards anyone that is considered to be different. Um, because when we, when we don’t know, we feel threatened and, and people don’t know about mental health illnesses about mental conditions and, and they feel threatened because of the ignorance most times. And then they judge and they try and put them down because that makes them feel more in control, more secured.
So, you know, there’s, there’s, there’s a lot of work to be done there about eradicating the stigma. But, you know, we, we can, you know, we bit, bit by day by day, you know, we get there,
[00:12:54] Peter: no question about it, Dr. Sanz how can people find, uh, more about you and, and, and where can they go to get more?
On the Web: www.MindYrLife.com
[00:13:00] Dr.Sanz: I thought of the name.
And I thought, um, you know, that mind obviously is about caring and looking after, and, and mind is about mental health and, and your, your is spelled with a Y and an R because I thought it’s about you. It’s about us, but it’s about your responsibility and every single one, taking responsibility over, over mental health, over attitude and, and, and changing.
And, and life is about, you know, precisely about why, why we live these lives, how do we live it and how do we, you know, live it in a way that is that we, we achieve happiness. Um, so mind your life spell, as I said, with the Y and R um, you know, I’ve got in the website, there’s, I’m, I’m, I’m doing lots of interviews to people that, you know, very willingly speak openly about their experiences with, with mental health.
I like to think that I lead by example. And I, I have an interview where I speak about what my experience growing up was, you know, when with, with mental health problems at home and, and, and we do do interviews and we, you know, I I’ve recently, um, wrote a, a journal, which is a wellbeing guided journal to help people.
Particularly people, you know, with, it’s not specific for ADHD, but people with ADHD tend to need more guidance, more support, you know, a little bit of a prompt. And, and this journal is to change behaviors. You know, that sometimes you think, oh, I wish I, I could eat more healthy or I could do more exercise or I could make my bed every morning or, you know, so, so it it’s to.
It’s to, uh, support people in making those changes. And the journal starts with giving lots of information about why consistency is important, how, how the brain works and how this consistency provides the, you know, the, the, the, what is needed for, for changing behaviors. So in mind your life, we have. As I said, you know, um, interviews to, uh, to learn more about what people really experience.
We have videos that I’ve, I’ve uploaded that I do them myself for, for everyone. They’re not for professionals they’re for everyone that want to learn a little bit more about ADHD, there are three videos on ADHD. There are some on autistic spectrum condition and that there’ll be more ?___? We, we, we upload information, informa educational videos.
We’ve got these journal as well. And we do loads of the things, um, that we keep, you know, uploading on the website to, to try and, you know, first make sure that people with mental health problems don’t feel that they are on their own because we are all on the same boat. And, and, and second to help those that really want to understand mental health conditions better and support those with mental health conditions in a, in a healthier manner.
You know, uh, we’ve got the information available as well. Excellent.
[00:15:58] Peter: Well, Dr. Sounds thank you so much for taking the time. We really appreciate you coming on faster than normal. And, uh, we’ll have you back again.
[00:16:04] Dr.Sanz: Oh, I, I love that Peter. Uh, I would love that. Thank you so much for having me today.
[00:16:10] Peter: Always guys, as always, we appreciate you listening. If you like what you heard, you could drop us a review. I know I say that every week. I really mean it this time…. —
Credits: You’ve been listening to the Faster Than Normal podcast. We’re available on iTunes, Stitcher and Google play and of course at www.FasterThanNormal.com I’m your host, Peter Shankman and you can find me at shankman.com and @petershankman on all of the socials. If you like what you’ve heard, why not head over to your favorite podcast platform of choice and leave us a review, come more people who leave positive reviews, the more the podcast has shown, and the more people we can help understand that ADHD is a gift, not a curse. Opening and closing themes were composed and produced by Steven Byrom who also produces this podcast, and the opening introduction was recorded by Bernie Wagenblast. Thank you so much for listening. We’ll see you next week!