Not the Brightest: NAMI Pathways Conference 2016

John Schuchart

We here at Subconscious had the opportunity to attend the Pathways Conference hosted by our friends at NAMI Westside LA. John Shuchart, a ‘serial entrepreneur’, innovator, author, and comedian, kicked off the keynote. After selling his successful insurance business, John devotes his time to ending mental health stigma by sharing his own story.

Growing up in a hostile family environment, John told shared stories about the discouraging comments that defined his childhood. However, reflecting back, he uses a lens of humor to share his own experiences with depression in an incredibly understandable way.

We took away three main takeaways from his talk:

1. Sadness is a situational consequence, whereas depression is biological.

First, John recounted the many events in his life that had contributed to his sadness, including one story of when he and his brother had a combined 2.9 GPA. However, we should remember that at the end of the day, depression is a physiological illness and needs to be regarded in the same light as other leading illnesses.

2. Positive reactions to antidepressants is a good thing.

Perhaps the greatest indicator of mental health stigma is the way in which we view antidepressants. Antidepressants have some of the lowest rates of patient adherence. Low compliance is due, in part, to side effects, but also to the embarrassment associated with loss of control. We would never feel embarrassed to take an aspirin for a headache, so similarly, no one should have to feel embarrassed for taking the antidepressants they need for a healthier mind.

3. Stigma ends when we have the courage to share our stories.

This message really resonated with us. John gave a fantastic example of cancer and HIV: thirty years ago, Americans regarded cancer with the same stigma as mental health. After decades of brave patients and families willing to speak up, cancer today has barely any associated stigma. This example encourages our team at Subconscious and sets an ambitious goal for our efforts.

You can read more about John’s stories and thoughts in his book:

Not the brightest book


This post was written by Cathy Liu. Please contact cathy@subconcious.org with any questions.