An Interview with Joanne Docherty, Mental Health Expert and Founder of Starra Education
Joanne Docherty is the founder of Starra Education. Through Starra Education, she offers a range of accredited Mental Health Training and Qualifications crafted both for individuals and organisations. Joanne also teaches Psychology at The University of Glasgow. We recently interviewed her to know more about mental health challenges and how her company is addressing those challenges.
Can you tell us a little bit about your background and experience in mental health first aid training?
I have been actively involved in mental health first aid training for several years now, and I am passionate about helping individuals and organisations to better understand and address mental health issues. I have a strong educational foundation and have worked hard to gain valuable experience in this field. As an educator at the University of Glasgow, I have had the opportunity to teach students about mental health. I am also a member of the Scottish Parliament Cross Party Group on Mental Health, which has allowed me to contribute to policy discussions and advocate for better mental health services in Scotland.
In addition, I am the founder of Starra Education, a company that provides evidence-based mental health training programs to organisations. Through my work with Starra Education, I have been able to help many employees learn how to identify signs of mental health issues in their colleagues and take appropriate steps to provide support. I have also worked with organisations to provide mental health support and resources to those in need.
What inspired you to become involved in mental health first aid training and founding Starra Education?
I have always been passionate about mental health and wellbeing, and I have dedicated my career to working with various non-profit organisations and educational institutions to help individuals facing challenges. However, the impact of COVID-19 and seeing how people were being affected mentally was a significant reason I started to offer this qualification at Starra Education. I was supporting a lot of leaders through their leadership qualifications who were facing issues with their staff teams and didn’t know how best to support them, and I could see a massive gap. This motivated me to take action and offer mental health first aid training to help people identify and manage mental health issues in themselves and others.
I saw an opportunity to use my expertise to provide evidence-based programs that could teach leaders how to recognize the signs of mental health issues amongst their employees and take the necessary steps to support them effectively. My personal experiences with my mother, who was schizophrenic, have been a significant source of inspiration for my work. Witnessing the impact of mental health issues firsthand, I was driven to make a positive difference in the lives of others through education and support. Overall, the combination of these factors has fueled my passion for mental health first aid training and inspired me to offer this at Starra Education.
How do you think mental health first aid training can help individuals and communities?
Mental health first aid training is a vital resource for individuals and communities. It can help to reduce the stigma and discrimination associated with mental health challenges by increasing understanding and awareness. It can help individuals recognise the signs and symptoms of mental health issues and provide them with the skills and knowledge to support someone in need. It can also help break down the stigma surrounding mental health and create a culture of openness and support. By providing mental health first aid training to community groups, organisations, and workplaces, we can create a safer and more compassionate environment for everyone.
How do you tailor your training to different audiences, such as youth or older adults?
As an experienced educator, I understand that effective teaching is all about tailoring to the needs of the learners. Therefore, when training different audiences such as youth or older adults, I employ different strategies to cater to their learning needs. For instance, when working with younger learners, I use more interactive and engaging teaching methods that allow them to learn while having fun. For adults, I take a more practical approach by providing real-life scenarios that they can relate to and learn from. I also ensure that I understand the audience’s background, level of understanding, and learning style to create an effective learning environment. Additionally, I provide open communication channels to ensure that learners feel comfortable approaching me for extra support if they require it. Overall, I strive to create an inclusive and supportive learning environment that caters to the diverse needs of all learners.
How do you approach issues of stigma and discrimination in mental health first aid training?
A huge part of my approach to mental health first aid training involves addressing stigma and discrimination head-on. I believe that language is a powerful tool, and we need to be mindful of the words we use when discussing mental health. Many people use hurtful language without realising the impact it can have on those who are already struggling. Therefore, I encourage individuals to use appropriate language to reduce stigma and discrimination towards people experiencing mental health problems.
In addition to language, we also need to address the root causes of stigma and discrimination. I emphasise that mental health problems are prevalent, and anyone can be affected at any time, and individuals need to approach it from a place of compassion and empathy.
What are some of the most important skills or knowledge areas individuals should gain from mental health first aid training?
Individuals can gain essential skills and knowledge areas from mental health first aid training, such as: Understanding mental health and mental illness, this includes learning about common mental health conditions.
Recognising warning signs: this training can teach individuals how to identify signs and symptoms of mental health challenges, and how to distinguish between normal behaviour and signs of distress.
Effective communication:this includes learning how to communicate effectively and empathetically with someone who is experiencing a mental health challenge, and how to approach and support them.
Crisis management: it teaches individuals how to respond in a crisis situation. By gaining these skills and knowledge areas, individuals can become better equipped to support someone who may be experiencing a mental health challenge and provide them with the necessary help and resources they need.
You also teach Psychology at Glasgow University. How do you incorporate your subject matter expertise in Psychology in the training program you offer?
As a Psychology tutor at Glasgow University, I am able to incorporate my expertise in mental health and human behaviour into my mental health first aid training. I draw on the latest research in Psychology to provide participants with evidence-based strategies for supporting individuals with mental health issues. I also emphasise the importance of mental health education and provide participants with a deeper understanding of the causes and consequences of mental health problems. By incorporating my subject matter expertise into my training, I hope to provide participants with a comprehensive understanding of mental health and the tools to support those in need.
Finally, what advice would you offer to someone who is interested in becoming a mental health first aider?
Contact me and we can have a chat of course! In all seriousness, If you are interested in becoming a mental health first aider my advice would be to start by seeking out reputable training programs and organisations that offer accredited mental health first aid qualifications. Attend training courses, gain practical experience through volunteering or just being there for friends and family when they need support. It is also important to stay up-to-date on the latest research and developments in the field, and to engage in ongoing professional development. Most importantly, approach the work with empathy, compassion, and a commitment to reducing mental health stigma and promoting mental health and wellbeing.
An Interview with Fitness Entrepreneur Eugene Pallisco
As a fitness entrepreneur, Eugene Pallisco has dedicated his life to equipping people with the knowledge, willpower, confidence, and appropriate technique they need to reach their fitness objectives.
He has devoted a lot of effort to sculpting and refining his training philosophy, which is centered on the improvement of others, ever since working with motivating fitness mentors in high school. Pallisco began his career teaching group fitness classes, then broadened his knowledge by working one-on-one with gym patrons as a personal trainer before starting his private training company in the fitness sector.
Eugene is dedicated to assisting individuals in discovering the joy and freedom in their physical activity, whether through weightlifting, long-distance or high-intensity cardio, or sports training. He is confident that everyone can change their body into a strong, healthy one with the appropriate attitude, patience, and effort.
Entrepreneurship is an evergreen “buzzword.” Why do you think that is?
In my experience, being an entrepreneur can offer several benefits and perks that keep it an enticing proposition, including:
Control and flexibility: As an entrepreneur, you have the freedom to set your own schedule and work on projects that you are passionate about, allowing for a better work-life balance and the ability to pursue other interests.
Opportunity to make a difference: Starting a business can allow you to create something that positively impacts the world and helps solve a problem or meet a need.
Potential for financial success: If your business is successful, you may have the opportunity to earn a higher income than you would in a traditional job.
Independence: Being your own boss can give you a sense of freedom and autonomy that may not be possible in a traditional job.
Being an entrepreneur can be a gratifying and rewarding experience, but it also demands tremendous hard work and attention. I can’t emphasize this last part enough.
Why did you pursue the fitness industry?
Becoming a personal trainer can be a rewarding career choice for people who are passionate about health and fitness and enjoy helping others achieve their fitness goals. Some potential benefits of becoming a personal trainer include:
Personal fulfillment: Helping others improve their health and fitness can be a fulfilling and meaningful career. The reward of helping others, in particular, was my primary motivator in pursuing a career in the fitness industry.
Good pay: Personal trainers can earn a good salary, particularly if they have a solid client base and can charge competitive rates for their services. That said, you should always prioritize the client’s well-being over monetary gains.
Career growth: Personal trainers can advance their careers by earning additional certifications, specializing in certain areas of fitness, or starting their own training businesses, as I’ve done.
It’s important to note that becoming a personal trainer requires a significant commitment of time and energy. In addition to obtaining the necessary certifications, personal trainers must be able to motivate and support their clients and adapt to their clients’ changing needs and goals.
As a fitness professional, I’m sure you don’t back down from a challenge, but I imagine the COVID-19 pandemic took its toll on your industry. How did you overcome this?
The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted the fitness industry. Many gyms and fitness studios were forced to close their doors or substantially limit their capacity to comply with public health measures designed to slow the spread of the virus.
In response, many fitness facilities and trainers, including myself, pivoted to offering virtual classes and training sessions, allowing them to continue serving their clients and generating revenue while in-person classes were impossible. Some facilities also implemented additional health and safety measures, such as frequent cleaning and sanitization, temperature checks, and mandatory masks, to make it safer for clients to return when restrictions were lifted.
In addition, outdoor and socially distanced fitness options, such as outdoor group classes and personal training sessions, became more popular as people sought ways to stay active while minimizing the risk of exposure to the virus. Thankfully, the year-round weather in Dallas is quite pleasant and enabled me to implement this approach.
To continue servicing customers and offering value throughout the epidemic, other fitness professionals and I had to be innovative and adaptive. As vaccination rates rise and public health regulations relax, the sector is expected to change and adapt to suit evolving requirements and concerns.
What are the advantages of working with a personal trainer?
Depending on the client and their goals, the perks will differ, but in most cases, I’ve found that there are several ubiquitous advantages to working with a personal trainer:
Customized workouts: A personal trainer can design a workout plan specifically for your needs and goals, considering your current fitness level, medical history, and any injuries or limitations you may have.
Motivation: Personal trainers can provide encouragement and support to help you stay motivated and committed to your fitness goals.
Expertise: Personal trainers are trained professionals with a wealth of knowledge about exercise, nutrition, and overall health and wellness. They can provide guidance and recommendations to help you achieve your goals safely and effectively.
Safe and effective workouts: Personal trainers can ensure that you are performing exercises correctly and safely, which can help reduce the risk of injury and help you get the most out of your workouts.
Accountability: Having a personal trainer can help you stay accountable for your fitness goals. You are more likely to stick to your workouts and make healthy choices when you have someone to regularly answer to and check in with.
Variety: Personal trainers can help you mix up your workouts and try new activities to keep things exciting and challenging.
Overall, working with a personal trainer can effectively improve your fitness level, help you achieve your goals, and lead a healthier lifestyle. It may not be for everyone, but it’s certainly worth exploring!
Dani Thompson is Making Noise in the Music Industry to Empower Independent Artists and Aspiring Entrepreneurs
Dani Thompson is the founder of DNT Entertainment. DNT Entertainment is a boutique artist management, artist development, music marketing, and PR agency. DNT Entertainment is a leader in artist development and has been empowering artists to succeed independently without compromising on their creative control.
Dani, Thank you for talking with us. The journey of an Entrepreneur is never an easy one. Kindly describe your journey as an Entrepreneur.
Dani Thompson (Dani N Thompson): My journey as an Entrepreneur has not been an easy one. Lots of research, time, tears, sacrifice, money, late nights, 3 phones, side hustles, full-time jobs to fund my passion, coffee, wine, and at least 2 diet cokes a day. To top it off I birthed 2 humans in the past 7 years while I was building my business, worked a side hustle as a Regional Sales Director for one of the largest financial processing companies in the health and fitness industry, and survived homeschooling and nannying my wild boys during a global pandemic. My journey has been a bit nuts to be quite honest. I thank god for getting me through it, and my family, friends, and clients for their encouragement and support. I honestly would not have been able to do it without them.
What were the initial challenges that you faced in your endeavor as the music industry has a lot of competition?
Dani Thompson (Dani N Thompson): I have always been one to learn everything in life the hard way. This applies not only to my personal life, but also my business journey. It is those hard lessons that have given me the knowledge to lead others, and therefore I know they were a difficult but necessary part of my journey as an entrepreneur. I faced many challenges and still do to this day.
I would say the biggest ongoing challenge has been finding a work/life balance. Knowing when to clock out and turn off my devices so I can live in the moment. Regarding the music industry and the competition there, to be honest I look ahead and not around me and I know there is only one of me. Sure there are amazing people in the industry that I look up to, but I don’t see them as competition. I feel like we are stronger together and collaboration is key to success in this industry. I’m not in a race to win anything. I have a long way to go before I will have reached what I feel would be the ultimate level of success in my career. I know that surrounding myself with people that have accomplished what I hope to someday in my life are not my competitors, but are mentors and are people I can learn from and grow with. The moment you look at your peers as your competition, you will fail. Instead you need to align and focus on finding partners that you can offer a mutual benefit to. We are stronger together.
How and when did you come up with the idea of DNT Entertainment?
Dani Thompson (Dani N Thompson): After graduating college I was asked by a family friend to manage and run a publicity campaign for an artist named Macy Kate. Her family sought my guidance because I had personal experience as an artist from my high school and college years, and had a degree in journalism and the ability to write. I also built an amazing network of creatives and music business professionals, worked with local studios, and had experience in photography, video, and live show production.
My resume and network landed me that first management client and I knew I needed a way to track income and expenses, draft invoices, have a professional public web presence, and all the other things that come with representing talent in the industry. I came up with the name DNT Entertainment which is my initials “Dani Nichole Thompson,” and the rest is history.
Business-wise, 2021 and 2022 had their own challenges. How exciting the future of business looks for you in 2023?
Dani Thompson (Dani N Thompson): I am very excited for 2023. I feel like our industry is slowly but surely recovering from the Covid 19 pandemic that set us all back the past few years. Live music is finally coming back, event mandates are being lifted, interviews are resuming in person, and the industry shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. This gives me great hope for our continued growth in 2023. I am also very excited to be working with our growing roster of amazing artists and the all-female creative and development team at DNT that have brought their talents to the table and have made a significant impact on the success of our clients. I’m also very excited for our continued partnership with Thomas Barsoe and OC Hit and their amazing new recording studio location in Orange County, CA.
Do you believe that music companies have been traditionally exploiting artists?
Dani Thompson (Dani N Thompson): I feel like the label system has a lot to offer artists in terms of marketing, publicity, tour support, team support, global distribution, credibility and radio promotion. I wouldn’t necessarily say artists are exploited, because labels are essentially investors and are taking on such a great risk when they sign talent. If a label or publishing company offers an artist/writer a signing bonus, at some point they need to be able to recoup their investment. That’s the way it works. You get nothing for nothing. To say that the recoupment of investment is “exploitation” would be wrong.
I feel artists need to do their due diligence and research before diving head first into the first label deal they are presented with, and make sure it is the best next step for them. A label deal is not the answer for everyone, especially not artists that want to retain creative control over their projects and ownership of their music. When signing a label deal many times artists are voluntarily signing away that creative control, their catalogs, and their image and brand in exchange for promotion to help them connect with a larger audience and get their music out on a larger platform. Lack of financial investment at an independent level is why artists sign major label deals. They need the money to continue creating music, marketing, promotion, video production, travel, radio, and all the other things that are almost impossible for independent talent to self-fund. Therefore they sign a big part of their lives away knowing that they will be exploited. Why else would a label sign them? They sign them not to help them, but to make money off them. It’s a business.
There are very clear contracts laid out and I feel like it is the duty of the artist to consult with a legal team and mentor before they rush into deals that they will later regret. Labels take a lot of risks when they sign an artist and invest in them financially with no guarantee of return. This is why you see the label deals these days only going to established artists or artists who have cultivated a following on their own. That presents a lesser risk to the label. Create your package, build your following, tie a pretty bow on it, and then present it to a label. At that point, you actually may be in a position to negotiate a mutually beneficial deal and not one where you will feel used and taken advantage of. The best first step is artist development and that’s what we do at DNT Entertainment.
Doing business is all about solving problems. It is equally important to help others in business and in your case, you want artists to remain independent. What are your views on this?
Dani Thompson (Dani N Thompson): I’m not going to say that every artist needs to remain independent. By all means, if they do not have the financial backing to continue the pursuit of their dreams of being an artist, and as long as they know the risks and benefits of signing a label or investment deal, they can make that decision and I will support whatever they feel is the right thing for their career. Every artist has different goals and based on those goals my job is to help build a strategy that will help them get there.
Are there any last thoughts you would like to share with our readers?
Dani Thompson (Dani N Thompson): In the world of entertainment and entrepreneurship, there is no guarantee that you will be successful, but I have learned that the more you put into anything you do in life the more you will get out. You can’t fail if you set realistic goals and if you have the motivation and drive to succeed. Work for love and not money. The money will follow if you are passionate about the work you do. Stay focused and grind it out. Have faith and trust in God and his plan for your life. Don’t look back. Don’t look around. Stop caring what everyone else thinks. Nobody will work harder for you than you, so start there and everyone else will get on the train.
Where to find Dani Thompson
Website: https://dnt-entertainment.com/Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/dntentertainment/
An Interview with Jennifer Miree Cope
Described as thorough and organized by her closest associates, Jennifer Miree Cope graduated from Vanderbilt University in 1985 with a degree in Electrical Engineering.
Jennifer has a deep-seated passion for several non-profit organizations. Especially with the Susan G. Komen Foundation and The O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, which has treated several of her close friends and family members.
Jennifer Miree Cope’s respect for the generosity of nonprofits inspired her to become a volunteer. Currently, she is involved with several charities started by Independent Presbyterian Church in Birmingham, Alabama: STAIR tutoring, the Children’s Fresh Air Farm, and Holiday House.
Jennifer’s husband, Pat Cope, is the founder of Cope Private Wealth — a prestigious financial planning firm. When not relaxing with her husband and two sons in Mountain Brook, Jennifer can often be found exercising, walking her dog, or hiking in the mountains of North Carolina.
Jennifer, thank you for doing this. Tell me about your best and worst days at work.
My worst days are the days when we’re busy. You know those days when customers are calling, texting, emailing from early in the morning to late at night. (I can’t help it that it rained that day.) But one of my best days was when we had three very happy clients, two of whom brought me wine!
What are the projects that you most enjoy working on?
Landscaping an empty or nearly empty lot. It’s just like an artist starting with a blank canvas.
What was your biggest ‘a-ha’ moment?
My biggest eureka moment was when I realized that technical drawings such as landscape plans can often be just as pretty as art.
What has been the most important part of your professional journey?
That’s a simple answer. It would have to be time management. There’s simply no way to succeed without it. And I start managing my time well from the beginning – it really starts the minute I wake up in the morning.
What risks is your company facing?
With the economy doing poorly and inflation on the rise, people can always stop landscaping. That’s really the biggest issue here. It is unfortunately a luxury and not a necessity.
What would you do with unlimited resources?
That’s a tough one! I mean, to be honest, there are a lot of things that I would do with unlimited money, and I imagine that’s the same for everyone else too.
But there is one thing that I would prioritize if I had unlimited money: First, I would try to use it to find a cure for cancer. Both of my sisters, my mom, my aunt, and my husband all had cancer. My two sisters died from it. It’s a nasty disease and we need to dedicate more of our resources to fighting against it.
When was the last time you totally lost yourself in doing something?
I would have to say it was the last time I made a needlepoint belt for one of my sons. It can be very easy to find yourself in the zone when you’re engaged in that.
What do you do when you’re not at work?
Yeah, well for exercise, you can usually find me playing golf, doing pilates, or yoga. I often enjoy going out to eat or attending sporting events and musical theater. And I can’t forget that one of my favorite things to do is travel — mostly to our place in the North Carolina mountains.
How do you feel you make a difference in the world?
For me, the number one way to make a difference is tutoring the underprivileged. I have done a lot with STAIR, and I am very proud of that work.
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