Jessica Cruz is the CEO of NAMI California. Here, she shares her insights in our Team NAMI California Q&A about mental health care, and what inspires her, challenges her, and gives her hope.
Who or what inspires you?
I am inspired by people who have passion and dedication to continue to fight, even when things get hard.
What would you say is the biggest challenge we face working to improve the overall mental health and well-being of our communities?
The unknown. Because you cannot see mental illness, stigma surrounds the issue. It is a challenge to change minds when minds are closed. It’s usually not until someone has become an expert out of their experience that they open up to make a true difference. But, as we raise our voices, we will bring light to the issue and make positive strides.
Can you share something you’re proud of? It could be a work accomplishment or something you’ve done in your personal life that has made a difference.
I am proud of the work that I do for NAMI California and the impact we are making on families across the state, which includes bringing attention to the importance of family involvement. I am proud of our push to continue to be heard and for our partnerships that help raise our voices. I am proud of our continued work around the issue of mental illness to educate, advocate, and innovate.
What do you personally do to take care of your mental health? Can you share one or more of your self-care activities?
I journal every morning to practice gratitude. For five minutes each day, I think about all the things I am grateful for. This puts me in a positive mindset.
When I am in a deep hole of darkness, writing hand-written notes to people who have impacted my life helps me see the light. It helps get me outside of my negative thoughts and promote positivity, not only for me but hopefully for others. I have been lucky to have so many people impact my life; they deserve to know how amazing they are! I have also written thank-you notes to people that I have struggled with along the way. Because of those struggles, I have learned and become a better person.
What gives you hope for the future?
My children give me hope for the future. They have hearts of gold and the ability to make generational changes that will make this world a better place.