Irma Goosen wants to help those who are on the edge

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On my many trips to Los Angeles for big entertainment events, I’m always very lucky and honored to be part of Celebrity Connected’s award show events for Emmys, Oscars, and more. At these events, I meet some amazing vendors who have unique products, products that help others, and some truly wonderful things with Social Good connections.

At this past Oscars Celebrity Connected event, I met an author, Irma Goosen, who also has created a special movement for young people (and all people) who are dealing with the effects of bullying, the struggles of growing up and life, and who need to feel like they have a community to connect with. The unique way she started all of this was by writing a series of books but so much more came from it. Her perspective as a mom gives what she does a very nurturing tone. You can feel the passion she has for what she does and who she helps. I definitely suggest checking out her website and her books.

I’m going to let her explain more about it all in our interview:

Q: Talk to us about how you got started as an anti-bullying champion.

Irma Goosen: Did you know that 1 in 2 young people today, think about suicide? And that the highest demographic in North America with mental health is in the ages 15-24 years? My younger daughter has always been sensitive. She’s an artist, beautiful, quiet and not one to initiate confrontation.

The bullying started in first grade, by her teacher – an old-fashioned woman who didn’t understand that my daughter had been in Montessori the past 4 years, and that she got taught to ask questions and investigate objects. It continued through high school. I can’t count how many times I had to do her assignments, just so that she wouldn’t get into trouble with the teachers. Yet she maintained her honor roll status and participation in sports.

One beautiful summer’s day, 4 years ago, she had a post surgery follow-up at the children’s hospital. She had needed the surgery due to a sports injury. That day became the darkest day in a mother’s soul. That day I found out my decorative knives, which had been disappearing, found their way to her bedroom. She had been harming herself, a way to try to focus on the instant pain which for a short while overshadowed the mental anguish she was going through.

She had a suicide plan in place. She knew the why, the where, the how… but not the when. She knew I would be devastated. My mother’s love saved my daughter’s life. 

That day became the best day in my life, because that is the day my daughter became my teacher.  That day I learned that I had to raise awareness about what our young people are going through. I have spoken with hundreds of young people, and so many of them struggle.

It wasn’t easy. There were days when I wondered if I would get home and she would’ve done that horrible deed. One thing I made sure of, I always told her how much I loved her, and how it didn’t matter what she did, I would be there for her. She would not be able to chase me away. I kept on telling her the same thing, over and over.

Since then I have been actively involved at schools, and teen groups. I talk about bullying and kindness at events. I make sure parents and kids know where to go for help. I have added the help websites and phone numbers in my books. The young generation deserves protection – they are our future leaders.

Q: The Guardian series is based on reality but written as fiction. Did you do that to protect those you were writing about or to make it easier for them if they wanted to read it? 

Irma Goosen: Both of the statements are true. The Guardian series takes the readers, whether children, young adults or adults, on a series of journeys where the young person struggling with reality gets shown how strong, and loved they really are. That no matter what, there is always hope. They get shown that they have free will, and can change their circumstances at any moment. They only need to trust.

Because I write about elves and fairies as guardians, the books come across as fantasy, but they are in fact dealing with current events.

Parents see the hidden lessons, while the younger generation sees the message of hope. What I feel strongly about is that the old adage of “it takes a village to raise a child” is very true.

Q: What should parents look out for if their children are having trouble but not being open about it? 

Irma Goosen: There are many signs we as parents see, but don’t take notice of, because we feel they should be part of the troubled teenage years. Mood swings, temper tantrums, wearing long sleeves even in summer, sleeping all the time, no appetite, skipping classes are a few ways to notice something is wrong.

Kids don’t always talk about what’s happening. Make a point of talking to the young person in your life. Tell them you love them. Talk about what bullying was about when you grew up. Perhaps it happened to you. Perhaps a friend got bullied. Sometimes a child doesn’t realize they became the bully, or that they are in fact being bullied, and that’s the reason they are sad.

There are different kinds of bullying: physical, social and by using social media. Physical is easy to recognize. Social bullying is a bit more difficult. Example: when there is a group of friends, and one talks about the other with the rest of the group. Instead of finding out the truth, the group might side with the talker. Cyber bullying is tough. It’s easy not to use real names on instagram, twitter or snapchat – which in turn makes it very easy to send anonymous comments. It becomes addictive.

Kids don’t necessarily mention suicide. Talk to your kids. Listen to them, because they might mention something in passing when you’re busy with something else.

Q: What do you think schools can do to assist with the issue of bullying, depression, and anxiety in children?

Irma Goosen: I am involved in a program at a few schools at elementary level, where we take the kids through a series of talks and exercises. Those programs then continue to junior high or middle school. We seem to be getting positive results, but of course it takes a few years of being involved.

It’s up to the parents to insist the schools get a speaker or program in place to assist them with the bullying issue. Get the kids involved, and let them make decisions as well about what they would like to see in place. Start the programs early, and continue them into high school. The schools all have budgets for programs, and mental health is probably the most important one to deal with. If the schools don’t want to pay, do it for free. It has been proven that bullying drops by 25% if the schools get involved with anti-bullying programs.

There are kids who are in abusive relationships, and don’t know they are being bullied. There are many kids who are growing up in households where the parents unfortunately are dysfunctional, and the kids themselves didn’t realize those relationships were not normal. The schools will then be the place they could get the education from. From there, the help they need. 1 out of 5 kids get the help they deserve, it’s up to us as a society to change that.

Q: In one of my own jobs, I work in an environment where bullying has been tolerated. Do you see many adults dealing with the issue in the workplace and what would you suggest if complaints have been made but not addressed? 

Irma Goosen: Bullying in the workplace should never be tolerated. I have seen it happen over the years and it’s a tough situation. I was bullied at the start of my engineering career, because I was the only female among the males and as such, a minority. I have seen people quit their jobs because of the old-fashioned, patriarchal attitudes.

Talk to the person. Tell them that their words and actions are hurtful, and that you would like them to stop. Then, put it in writing. You now have a record. The next step if that didn’t help? Report it to your supervisor. They should then talk to the individual. In many cases the bullying should stop there. Still nothing? Human Resources. In many cases I have seen, the individual responsible for the unacceptable behaviour was either moved to another department, or their services were no longer required. In some cases HR will suggest you making a case at the police against the person, if things don’t stop. Then it becomes possible for the bully to be charged with a criminal offense.

Most workplaces have counsellors available as well. They are there to help. I am fortunate that I don’t come across much bullying in the workplace anymore. I don’t say it’s not happening. I think there has been a shift in the way people think. It’s all about education.

Q: Most times, those who are doing the bullying have suffered at the hands of a bully themselves either at home or in some other situation in their past. The saying goes, “Hurt people hurt people”. This doesn’t excuse the behavior or lessen the effects of it on victims but, as a parent and professional, what do you suggest is the best action if you can’t actually seek results with the parents of a bully because they are actually part of the problem? 

Irma Goosen: This is why education is key. Talk to someone you trust. Young people have a keen sense of knowing whom to talk with. They could talk with a friend, the friend’s parents, a teacher, an adult in the family they trust. There are free counseling services available in almost every town. Talk to the preacher. Always, but always, make sure the person you talk to is trustworthy. Sometimes it would mean talking to more than one person, because the first one or two didn’t believe you. Don’t give up. There is someone out there who will help you.

Once again, this is why the schools should get involved. By having programs in place the kids learn about their behaviour, which in turn could lead them finding help for the adults in their lives. Fear is powerful in any abusive relationship, and even more so when it’s an adult figure and their charge. This is why I will continue speaking up to have the collective voice of young people be heard.

Q: How can people join your Movement? 

Irma Goosen: By getting involved at your schools and youth organizations, the Movement will grow. Let me know when you do that!

I would love for people to buy the books and distribute them to schools and groups. Contact me if you want to create a cinematic experience like video games, or movies or a series.

Book me to speak at your events to raise awareness about bullying.

Join my video series by submitting your stories of strive, then hope. Contact me for the format. Let’s bring positivity back to our lives!

Join The PDA App. It’s free, and there are so many specialists who could help. Make sure to look me up as well! I would love young people to be sponsored, in order for them to share their stories of triumph after having gone through traumatic experiences growing up.

Let me know when you did something to help youth, I want to see this go worldwide! Make sure to tag me!

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Q: Where can people find you and your books online?

Email me: Irma@discoveringlife.info

My website which is new: http://discoveringlife.info

My books can be ordered through Amazon. The titles are:

On the Edge

Upside Down

The 3rd book in the series is almost there!

Q: I ask everyone this, What is one thing you absolutely cannot live without and one thing you wish we could all live without?

Irma Goosen: I can’t live without having kids in my life. I adore kids, they are wise beyond what we can imagine!

I would love for us all to live in harmony. War is senseless. Bullying is fear reaching out as violence. So the one thing I wish we could live without would be without violence.   

Q: What’s next for you and your movement?

Irma Goosen: I have teen events where I get specialists in their fields to teach real life lessons. Example: What to look for when a young person opens a bank account. Or, how to check the air pressure in the tires. Or, how to build a fire. The list is endless.

I am also rolling out my full day workshop to talk to corporations about mindfulness in the work environment, and what it means for their families as a result. That includes bullying.

I am in negotiations for a possible tv show, it does cost money for the production costs and studio time, so any help would be appreciated!

The one thing I would love to have happen is to be able to speak to thousands of kids, and their parents. To share my daughter’s story of triumph. To let them know, there is hope. 

I am working on my YouTube channel, updating my website and getting it all ready to start sharing the amazing stories of so many courageous people.

Derek Jameson wants to help you to know your self-worth

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Derek Jameson has become a perfect example, to me, of someone who evolves the right way, in the right direction. His music and voice always spoke to me and I’m impressed by his knowledge of health and fitness. When he started to be vocal about his spiritual journey, it made so much sense. His posts, personality, and demeanor always had a tinge of peacefulness to them so I wasn’t surprised at all to find out he was also in the know about meditations, angels, and guides.
I’ve always believed in higher power and that there are entities who guide us, protect us, and lead us to other souls that are part of our journey. I’m thankful that those entities led me to Derek because knowing him for as long as I have has been a total pleasure. I also knew I could totally trust him to do a reading for me. I would highly recommend heading over to his website after you read our interview to schedule something for yourself. You can also check out his other services and jewelry too!
I was very impressed and pleased with my own nine card reading. So pleased that all of my bragging piqued the interest of at least one of my friends to reach out to Derek for her own. That makes me extremely happy too, when you trust and believe in someone, you want your friends to benefit as well!
I always love talking to Derek Jameson on social media, via email, and in person – so I could have asked him hundreds of questions. For now, I hope you enjoy the ones I chose:
Q: You definitely embody the term “Multi-Talented” – Musician, Trainer, Guide, Healer… am I leaving any out? Tell me how you got started on the music first and where that journey has taken you.
Derek Jameson:  Lol! I am sure there are more titles that can be squished into description, but we can leave it at a digestible amount.
I started off performing as a character at a Paramount theme park in Northern California at 15 years old.  Hiding behind a big head allowed me to explore my creative side and still be hidden away.  I was very shut off from the world when I was young.  Being made fun of started in 5th grade, so I had a few years under my belt to really base my self-worth on what others thought about me haha! At the same time I was writing lyrics and playing basic chords on the piano.  It was a way to express the dark that was burrowing inside of me.  This creative outlet allowed me to be free.  Since then I was in bands and winning awards.  My solo projects have gotten me signed to a label under UMG, songs in film, TV, and allowed me to have my own tour in Asia.  Now, I am collaborating on projects with other artists, DJ’s, and producers with an aim to move people to feel.
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Q: How did you get into the Physical Trainer part? What has that been like for you?

Derek Jameson: Going back to self-worth, I would look at magazines and feel like I should look like the guys I see on them. I was reallllllly skinny.  In retrospect I completely understand that it was my journey of learning to build armor and make myself stronger so that I could teach others how to.  I discovered that if we have the idea, then it lives inside us waiting to manifest.  I wanted to help uncover what they already had inside them.  I thought this was done through physical fitness, but now I see that it was SO much bigger than that.  Being a trainer has allowed me to bring people out of the dark.  It has given me radio, TV, and film opportunities as well.  Being in Los Angeles, I have had the opportunity to work with high-profile entertainment clients to assist them on their journey.   People want to say “luck.”  I know it’s just about knowing what you want and following your inner guidance.

Q: When it comes to physical training are there certain things you can say we should never eat or is that something that varies from person to person? Is there a big list of no-no foods one just need never consume? 

Derek: This is a funny question because you can’t tell ANYONE what to do or not to do. They have to figure it out for themselves you know?  How else do we learn how to tune into what FEELS right for our individual needs and desires at that particular moment?  I have had to go from eating Mama Celeste pizzas just to gain weight to eating organic and plant-based nutrition to be healthy and honor my body.  It all has served it’s purpose within my particular life plan.  Right now you might love eating chicken and that totally works for you.  That’s great!  However, you may wake up tomorrow feeling that chicken no longer serves this vibrational space you are in and it’s time to eat more plant based and organic.  It’s all for good if you are listening to what your body is telling you.  It’s about learning.  So, I never tell anyone not to do anything unless they are asking for help and I then tell them how to manipulate and modify what they are doing to meet their expectation.

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Q: In your experience, what are some of the most common questions and concerns individuals have when they come to you for spiritual guidance/healing?

Derek: They typically don’t even know what they want, but they know they need something.  I typically get first timers who have trust in me enough to sit with me.  The issues they are facing typically arise naturally.  Many are going through a major cleansing and shift in their vibration and they don’t fully know how to approach it. I bridge that confusion by clearing out the unnecessary helping them to realign to their inner being and offer soul support.   You would think it would be a lot of relationship stuff, but it’s been more about aspects of their life that aren’t working.  This just goes to show you that we are ALL connected and everyone is going through this major shift. It’s so beautiful lol!

 

Q: Being a Guide and Healer does actually fit into the whole Physical Trainer part for sure. How did that begin? Tell me a little about where it’s taken you so far.
Derek: I mix spiritual development in with my training clients.  Sometimes it’s through clear exercises, but mostly they are receiving vibrational tunings within the conversations we have during sessions.  I realized the biggest issue with physical fitness is the word physical.  It’s removing the other planes of existence.  We also need to focus on the mental, emotional, and spiritual.  If they aren’t aligned in all these areas, they won’t see the results they want because they never learned how to SEE themselves truly for the energy they are.  They just see this outer casing that ends up not mirroring the inner being.  It took me a while to discover this missing component and how to fully integrate it, but it’s proved to be extremely effective.  If you can’t see yourself as perfect already, you will never be fully present with yourself and thus always seeking outside validation.
Q: When you did my 9 card reading (which I highly recommend) we touched on realizing one’s purpose. What are some common things that prevent us from realizing our true purpose, path, or calling? 

Derek: Self worth is the most detrimental component to seeing, trusting, and carrying out true life purpose.  Everyone is talented. Only some have the balance of self worth that allow them to surrender to what they came her to do.  No one’s life purpose is your life purpose.  So, comparing yourself to what others are doing isn’t even a valid activity.  Fear is an illusion that tries to keep you from what you came here to do.  Everyone knows what lights them up. If they say they don’t it’s because they have fear surrounding it that they aren’t ready to face.  People must choose to look at themselves in the mirror in order to walk through it.

Q: We are always talking about and hearing there are major shifts going on. What do you do if you aren’t feeling them? Does that mean they weren’t for you or are you just not open enough to feel them?

Derek: If people aren’t feeling the shifts taking place, that’s just their life plan.  Again, not everyone’s life plan is the same.  We make pre agreements before coming into this life and we also choose the time we start to awaken.  If people aren’t feeling the shifts, it’s because they don’t necessarily want to or are ready for that.  That is all okay.  That’s what people like you are there for.  Sometimes your simple post, suggestion, or experience is the seed that plants in the minds of those who are ready.  That is what you are here for.  They will then have their own journey, but you planted the seed that allowed them to feel the sun.
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Q: What is one thing you absolutely cannot live without and one thing you wish we could all live without? 

Derek: Peace of mind.  Fear.

Q: In regards to music, who are some artists you’d like to do collaborations with?

Derek: Most of them are not well-known, but in their style communities.  Haelos, Birdy, Vini Vici, Matt Nash, Kaskade, EDX

Q: Where can we find you, your work, and your music online?

Derek: IG – @derekjameson
    Itunes – Derek Jameson
    Spotify – Derek Jameson
    YouTube –  Wonderful Light Body
    YouTube (Music) –  Derek Jameson Music
Q: What’s up for Derek Jameson in the new year? 
Derek: QHHT Past Life Regression Healings. Music collaborations with DJ’s, artists, and producers coming out in 2019.  Spiritual readings and healings.  More amazing-ness!
Here’s something from Derek’s YouTube channel for Wonderful Light Body:

And, of course, some of his music:

Kaden James wants to give you All He Has to Give

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Kaden James is someone who not only has many gifts, he also has the talent of knowing HOW to share them. I’ve known Kaden for years now, have interacted with him almost daily on social media, and have always found our exchanges positive, uplifting, and important. He wrote a truly wonderful Christmas story last year, ‘All I Have to Give’ (available on Amazon). I think it’s the perfect holiday book to read to your children, have your children read, and to read yourself. It makes a great stocking-stuffer or holiday gift too! We tend to lose sight of the true meaning of the Holidays with all the shopping and gift giving. This book puts that all in perspective in such a lovely way! As Kaden ends the book: “When life is tough and you feel you have nothing to give, remember that what you have is always enough, for the most precious gift we can ever give is love”.
When I first came across Kaden, he was pursuing a career in music, his songs have been featrued on a few MTV shows and I was thrilled for him. He was also doing some amazing modeling (just check out his Instagram to see how great he is!). Kaden is definitly someone who is always evolving and searching for the next way to help people, so it was very natural for him to get into life coaching and empowerment as well.
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One thing I have always noticed about him is that he takes time to connect and thank me for my support. But, really, he is the kind of soul I want to support. It’s a natural meeting of souls who want the same thing for our world. I am so interested in everything that is for Social Good, that helps others on their journey in life, and that helps all of us get along, as well as get ahead in life (and that doesn’t always mean in material ways). Kaden absolutely gets that.
I could go on for paragraphs about how amazing he is, but I really want you to enjoy this interview that has been a few years in the making!!
Q: Tell us a little about you. How did you get into life coaching and empowerment?
Kaden James: I was in a place where I was feeling very stuck in my life and knew I needed a radical shift in my approach to live. I had always enjoyed hearing how others had gained success and moved their lives forward and I just started studying experts that really resonated with me. I knew I needed to learn what they knew. After having dinner with a mentor friend of mine, and giving him some advice on some things he had been going through, he said “Wow, you really have a talent for this. You should think about becoming a professional life coach”. I had never even considered what I had done for him or other people I had helped in life as a career. I had always just enjoyed making people feel good and getting there lives on track was much easier for me than getting my one on track. So I was sitting there thinking – I NEED A LIFE COACH! So I went home that night and researched some coaches and then reality hit in the form of how much money coaching cost. I am by no means knocking the prices of others who lend their expertise to help people, this is VALUABLE work that we do… I just didn’t have those kinds of resources to create an ongoing relationship with a coach so I enrolled in a course where I could learn what coaches knew and make payments, like student loans to learn. I dove in full force, got certified and then started gaining clients and working with people who had different budgets – the goal was always the same to help people get the life they want, and by helping others do this I am getting the life I want. It’s a beautiful flow of energy that really elevates and great coach/client or teacher/student relationship. I think of it as a partnership and I learn a lot form those I have the pleasure of working with.
Q: I love the term SpirLit! explain what that means to you.
Kaden James: I have always felt that we all have light within us when we are born and through life’s troubles and hardships sometimes that light dims but as long as you are alive there is an ember within you that can be fanned into a beautiful flame that lights up your spirit and the world. It is your job to discover the ways you have blocked your light and then shine brighter than ever. Spirlit came to me while meditating on this concept and is a way I am putting more light into this world. Look out for Spirlit.com launching in the new year to produce content that helps charities reach a wider audience and as a platform that shines a light on people doing kind things in their communities. I hope you will join us and become a “Guardian of Light” which is what we call our members. It’s a very exciting time to be AWAKE and to be willing to spread the light of love across the world.
Q: You’re also a model, your pictures are always so well done. Do you have say over that sort of thing or does it come from picking the right photographers? Or maybe both? How did you get started with that industry?
Kaden: Thank you. Modeling started out as a way for me to make a little money and gain confidence. I would then reinvest what I was earning into music and other things that were important to me. I have always been an artist and felt that I had more to say and offer the world than just some nice images, but with that said I have had a lot of fun with it. I have met some really tremendous people and have been able to spread word about things that are important to me with this platform.
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Q: You wrote a book, ‘All I Have to Give”. What inspired that story and then how did you go about getting it out there?
Kaden: I felt a tugging at my heart last year around the holidays to write. I hadn’t yet built up my businesses and was struggling financially. I was left wondering what I could get my loved ones. I knew I could just force myself to work odd jobs and spend my time that way, just hustling away or I could use my time to write. My heart won that battle and “All I Have to Give” became the gift I gave to my loved ones. It’s something I am even more proud of as I read it again this year. We have raised money for two very deserving charities and I as I wrote the story I connected with the real meaning of the holiday season, it was pure and powerful. I hope others who read it will feel more connected with the spirit of the season as well.
Q: What is the best Christmas gift you’ve ever received? (Material item and non material item)
Kaden: Material item- I was given a scrapbook that my mother put together that showed them as children, then when they met and finally when they had me and our lives together through the years. It was so thoughtfully made and I treasure it.
Non material I love a good hug from loved ones during the holidays and also just chatting and being present (pun intended) near a Christmas tree.
Q: In your opinion, what is the best gift you’ve every given?
Kaden: All I Have to Give: this book is deeply meaningful to me and my hope is that it will continue to touch people for many years to come. That’s a gift that keeps giving and I love that.
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Q: I remember finding you through your music. Is that still something you are pursuing?
Kaden: I have always loved music, I will always have more songs in me. I have a few unreleased works, one of which I want to lend to a youth homelessness charity, I was homeless for a time and lived in a shelter so this is my way of honoring the people who help in this area as well as help other young people who go through these hardships. I am still working out the best way to do this. It’s a deeply personal song called “Don’t Leave Me Lonely” and is about not knowing your direction or who you are supposed to be in this world. I have also been writing music for a musical called “The Fall”.
Q: What is one thing you absolutely cannot live without and one thing you wish we could all live without?
Kaden: I can’t live without my connection to Spirit. I wish we could all live without hate, it’s a poison that harms everyone.
Q: Where can we find you online, besides following you on Instagram at @Kaden? Or is Instagram your main platform?
Kaden: I have a few little homes online:  KadenJames.com YouTube.com/Kaden and of course Instagram and you can check out @SpirLit as well.
Q: What’s coming up for you in the new year?
Kaden: I will be launching a Daily Playbook, to help people adopt good daily habits like daily goal setting, positive thinking, gratitude and a way to check in with themselves and best of all it’s easy and fun. So be on the lookout for that. I will also be releasing more GOOD STUFF! So please connect with me online and join the party.
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I definitely encourage you to join the party. Here’s a video from Kaden’s YouTube channel so you can see how relatable he is and how passionate he is about what he does:

Eli Brown is doing his best to Shine the Light On Mental Health Issues

I was recently introduced to a company and movement I immediately clicked with called Shine the Light OnShine the Light On is on a mission to bring a voice to mental health issues impacting youth. I’ve had a few phone conversations with the charismatic founder, Eli Brown, who has impressed me even more! You should head over to the website and check out the Our Storyvideo to see him in action speaking on stage and giving away t-shirts like a rock star! But, it’s not all fun and games, on the homepage you can view a video explaining more about the company and the Our Cause page tells you that “with every purchase, STLO donates one educational program to advance mental health in youth.”

The facts may be a bit shocking to some but “1 in 3 youth from all walks of life suffer from mental health related issues. Two out of three suffer in silence due to fear of rejection and alienation.”

From the first moment I spoke to Eli, I felt like I knew him and his own struggles. His battle with his issues began after he was sexually assaulted at a young age. The shame and difficulties navigating his feelings were familiar to me in my own experiences and struggles as a youth. I know his story will resonate with many young people and adults and his advice is important.

As with all Social Good issues, the most important part is that WE CAN HELP others in what may seem like a small way. Buying a shirt or a few shirts may not seem like much but once you see what they are doing you realize that collectively, it will help a great many people. After you read our little chat, be sure to head to Shine The Light On to check out the merchandise for yourself.

Q: For those who aren’t familiar, tell us a little about you and how Shine the Light On came about?

Eli Brown: Shine the Light On is a clothing company that uses thought provoking designs to let people suffering from mental illness know they aren’t alone. People wear the clothes

and become billboards, carrying the message with them. We work with non profits to partner and send this message throughout the communities who need to hear/see it.

We want to shift the conversation from reducing the stigma to acceptance and for every purchase we donate one educational program to help advance mental health in youth.

Q: As you have said, when we suffer certain traumas in our lives or carry certain secrets, we tend to feel we can’t talk to anyone about it because they won’t understand. Looking back, do you think now that you could have come forward earlier?

Eli Brown: Looking back now, having gone through sexual abuse I think I could have said something earlier and gotten help. It can be embarassing and difficult. As far as sexual abuse, there is a lot of shame and embarrassment. I was pretty uneducated on the symptoms of depression and anxiety so I thought it was normal freshman college issues. I went through sexual abuse at the age of 14 and kept it inside for years. At 18, 19, I turned to drugs and alcohol to cope. That caused the mental struggles to grow.

Q: What advice would you give to anyone who is suffering in silence or struggling with their mental health?

Eli Brown: The best advice: Find a support network that will help you get assistance. Guidance counselor, teacher, health professional. Reach out so you can start to receive help. Telling one person or two people creates a support group of your own and will give you the courage to go forward to seek out professionals. A friend or family member, talking it out with them helps you to get guided and ready to talk to professionals.

Q: Movements like Shine the Light do help to erase some of the stigma that surrounds mental health issues but there is still lots of work to do. What would you say to loved ones of anyone who is struggling?

Eli Brown: The stigma around mental health is definitely decreasing. I can say that when it comes to the people who reach out to me, I can only listen with no judgement. Hear their pain and their story, and then help them to seek professional help. Validation and support are key.

Q: You’ve been open and honest about your own struggles and the things you have done to self medicate. We see so often that individuals get to the point of overdose and many times it ends tragically. Are there certain signs we can look for in the ones we love that could prevent things from going so far? There is a difference between experimenting as we grow up and abusing to escape. Is it a difference that can be caught in time?

Eli Brown: I do think it’s something that can be caught. It depends on whether people want to act upon it. Weight loss, sleeping in, suddenly pale complexion. There are tons of signs but sometimes it’s difficult to confront someone about it. I went from being a high performance athlete, playing tennis, getting up early, eating healthy to not working out, not eating healthy… you may notice changes.

Q: I know you have some exciting things going on and coming up, can you tell us some of your future plans for Shine the Light On?

Eli Brown: One exciting thing is that we are going to start donating a significant part of proceeds to affordable housing for people who struggle with mental health and addiction. We have found that being able to afford a place to live can be difficult for those you are dealing with these issues and trying to seek help.

Another thing is that we will be launching in Europe. Mental health awareness is different in each city in the states and each country in Europe. The Royal family in the UK is on the leading edge in that. They are doing some ground breaking things for the people there and they have been open to doing what it takes to help.

Q: I ask this of everyone, What is one thing you absolutely cannot live without and one thing you wish we could all live without?

Eli Brown: One thing I can’t live without is this little book I carry with me where I write daily activities, phone numbers, notes. I love writing stuff down. I keep all of my notes and numbers in there. And ice cream! I love ice cream so I’d definitely say that.

I wish that at meals people could live without their phones. I don’t what it is, it really bugs me. People are out on dates or together in groups and are on their phones instead of paying attention to each other. People should pay less attention to technology during intimate dinners or gatherings and more attention to the people who are present there in the moment.

Q: Since you are so open about your own story and have spoken about it at events, do you have any particular stories that have touched you in surprising or memorable ways?

Eli Brown: I think one of the main things that surprised me is how many people there are that are impacted by mental health. When I was going through it, I felt like I was alone and I’ve found out so many others are going through it. So many of the stories I hear are impactful. Always very, very impactful stories after I speak somewhere or meet people through my work.

Q: I LOVE the partnership of Social Good and fashion, would you consider doing clothing for other causes?

Eli Brown: Yeah, when we initially started that is something we discussed. I think as we go on we will continue to Shine the Light on other social causes that impact youth.

Q: Where can we find you and Shine the Light online to learn more and to order some items so we can proudly and stylishly support?

You can go to our Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and visit the Website for more info on us, to find out where I’ll be speaking, where we will be featured, and of course to order our clothing.

Q: Since you are someone who had a vision and made a success of it, what advice would you give to those who have passions, dreams, and visions but are having a difficult time getting stared or haven’t been able to overcome certain fears that come along with pursuing them?

Eli Brown: One of the most difficult things to do is to stay focused and to stay tight on your vision.

There was too much feedback on what I was trying to do. I was getting sidetracked listening to eveyone else.

My biggest piece of advice is once you have that vision established, stay on that course until you start to see the vision becoming a reality.

Tommy: I want to thank Eli for sitting down with me for this interview and I definitely look forward to working with him more. I’m proud to be one of the brand ambassadors for Shine the Light On and would love to do something possibly for the LGBT community with them at some point in the future.