Last month, in honor of World Mental Health Day on October 10, Sean Shinnock, a volunteer in McLean’s Deconstructing Stigma campaign, was invited to speak to employees of The Boston Foundation about mental health and the importance of getting help. Sean shared his story of living with severe OCD, anxiety, and depression as well as his long journey to seek help for his mental illness.
“Mental health is an important topic we need to tackle, as it impacts everyone in some form,” said Jane Dixon, assistant vice president of Human Resources at The Boston Foundation. “But finding a way to bring the subject to light takes special skill. We were all deeply touched by Sean’s story and his willingness to be frank about his experiences. We are looking forward to further collaborations with Sean and McLean.”
Sean, who joined McLean’s Office of Public Affairs & Communications a year ago as part of its advocacy and public education team, actively shares his story with school groups and organizations in an effort to increase understanding about mental health.
“It is gratifying to have gotten to a point in my life where I am comfortable standing up in front of a room of strangers and telling them about the mental health challenges I faced and continue to face,” said Shinnock. “Every time I speak, it gets easier. And every time I speak, people in the audience reach out to me afterwards to thank me for sharing and encouraging them to think about their own mental health or that of a loved one or friend. Through my work, I am helping people recognize that mental health should be talked about and not something we hide.”
In addition to his talk at The Boston Foundation, Shinnock, along with Stephanie A. Maddox, PhD, director of Brains Matter, addressed administrators and faculty at the Tyngsboro School District on September 11 and presented “The OCD Brain,” a talk for OCD-Massachusetts, at McLean Hospital on October 19.
“Connecting people through what makes us all human—our emotions and our experiences—is a key element of McLean’s Public Education Initiative, of which Deconstructing Stigma is a part,” said Adriana M. Bobinchock, co-director of the initiative. “While providing clinical education about mental health is critical, having someone with a lived experience share their story makes it real for our audiences and allows us to raise awareness and understanding in a different manner.