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Daisy Rosales: Building Community-Owned Mental Health

Daisy Rosales: Building Community-Owned Mental Health

Hi there, my name is Spiffy, I’m an interplanetary journalist hanging out on Planet Earth. Today I’m interviewing Daisy Rosales who creates community-owned mental health programs.

Spiffy: Howdy, Daisy! What is the challenge that Brio is addressing?

Daisy: Here in the US, one in five people faces mental illness at any given time. But in contexts where even more lives are affected by poverty, violence, and a lack of social services, that number is estimated to double. These communities tend to have the least access to quality mental health prevention or care, and its adverse effects can be devastating. Brio works to increase access to contextualized mental health support through design and collaboration with local leaders and organizations.

Spiffy: Income shouldn’t decide your mental health :O. What motivated you to take this on?

Daisy: Exactly right, many people see mental health and wellbeing as a luxury. However, those of us who have witnessed or experienced these challenges first-hand are aware of its effects on our ability to access opportunities or to live meaningfully. Having worked with social impact organizations across numerous contexts, I believe mental health is absolutely essential to human flourishing. Compassionate healing is Brio's mission, and in walking with our partners I experience the mutuality of that on a daily basis. 

Spiffy: How are you making the world a more equitable place?

Daisy: Increasing access to mental health care must extend beyond training more professionals. In our partnerships with experienced local organizations, we emphasize community engagement and ownership from the start, creating initiatives that reflect the realities of each context and particular pain points that exist. In this highly collaborative design process, the models generated are far more hospitable and effective, which we believe is key to equitable mental health access. We’ve also created a mental health toolkit, this free set of 19 resources equips leaders & organizations designing contextualized mental health support in their communities.

Spiffy: Tell me about a recent milestone you’ve reached with Brio.

Daisy: During the challenges of Covid-19, we worked with an incredible partner organization in India to create a 21-day wellbeing audio program that could be shared through radio, especially in more rural areas. The program features music, stories, and activities, and will be offered in local languages. In lieu of in-person programs and activities, we hope this series can provide a simple respite and form of support for people who are struggling to manage chronic stresses at this time.  

Spiffy: What’s a time you’ve faced failure? How did you overcome the problem?

Daisy: When working with partners and stakeholders, there is frequently tension between adaptability and accountability. Navigating this tension can be challenging: when do you adapt to shifting interests and motivations, and when do you insist on follow-through with a plan? We have had situations when a stakeholder quits or an agreement falls through, and we have to start over. What I've learned is to never waste the trust and momentum that are built, even if a project doesn't come to fruition as planned. 

Spiffy: You must be a master of relationships even though it can be tough these days. What’s something that’s surprised you recently?

Daisy: Many social change leaders and entrepreneurs carry the burdens of both advancing their mission and keeping their organization running. In tackling these challenges daily, it's too easy for us to ignore our own healing and restoration, especially when we compare our suffering with the suffering of those we serve. But this is the wrong mindset; I've learned to start including myself in our mission of compassionate healing and human flourishing. It's absolutely essential. Don't exclude yourself. 

Spiffy: What’s something you learned recently working in mental health?

Daisy: I'm always astonished and moved when a person we are meeting with (on Zoom these days) chooses vulnerability. Sometimes it's the courage to share something deeply personal; other times it's allowing tears or raw emotion to emerge. It is in these moments that I catch a glimpse of their deep passion for their community, and it teaches me about not only what's broken but also what's possible. Their courage renews my hope. 

Spiffy: I love how you’ve come to connect without being together in person. Thank you for talking to me today.

Daisy Rosales is the Co-Founder and Executive Director of Brio, a nonprofit that enables access to contextualized mental health care through design and collaboration with local community organizations. She is inspired everyday by the power of proximity, the mutuality of compassion, and processes that reflect the dignity of all people. (Nominated by Inclusion NextWork)