Mental Health Champions: Why & How Dr Beth Pausic of Hims & Hers Is Helping To Champion Mental Wellness
Being physically active. I take long walks along with doing pilates and yoga. I spend so much time in my head that doing something physical is a great stress and anxiety reliever.
As a part of our series about Mental Health Champions helping to promote mental wellness, I had the pleasure to interview Dr. Beth Pausic.
Dr. Beth Pausic is a clinical psychologist and Director of Behavioral Health at Hims & Hers. Prior to Hims & Hers, Beth worked in senior roles at several behavioral healthcare startups focused on the digital delivery of emotional support and treatment through both conventional and innovative approaches. Her experience prior to working in telebehavioral health includes over 15+ years as a Clinical Administrator and Provider in diverse clinical settings. Dr. Pausic received her doctorate from George Washington University.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit. Can you tell us a bit about how you grew up?
Thank you for having me. I grew up in a suburban neighborhood just outside of Pittsburgh. Looking back, it was a fairly traditional middle class upbringing. From an early age, there was a strong emphasis on education and the independence that it can provide. Both of my parents were second generation so along with extended family members on both sides there was a presence of multiple cultures in terms of music, food and language. It gave my sister and I an appreciation of where we came from along with where we could go.
You are currently working at an organization that is helping to promote mental wellness. Can you tell us a bit about what you or your organization are trying to address?
One of my favorite things about Hims & Hers is the mission to de-stigmatize various health conditions. Of course, mental health is the top issue for me that continues to be misperceived and misunderstood. Our organization looks at these issues in an innovative way that normalizes them and provides a cool and creative platform to learn about these things openly without judgment while getting treatment.
Can you tell us the backstory about what inspired you to originally feel passionate about this cause?
From an early age I was always drawn towards healthcare as a career choice. I was pretty focused on becoming a medical doctor but shifted around in college trying to find that passion. I ended up with an undergraduate degree in criminal justice because I was fascinated by criminal behavior and what was behind it. Eventually that fascination spread to non-criminal behavior as well.
About 8 years ago I was feeling pretty stuck with traditional jobs within mental health. I had been a practicing psychologist for many years and then grew into administrative roles. It was a great experience on both sides, but the passion was on the decline. I was very fortunate to have made the shift into digital behavioral health and it changed everything for me. I found it to be innovative, creative and a way to address many of the issues that we faced in brick and mortar settings, such as access and wait times. It truly changed my career trajectory and I was being challenged to take on roles and responsibilities outside those of a traditional clinician which reignited my passion. I love that we can find new ways to address mental health issues and provide support for both clinical and sub-clinical issues through technology. I have heard many powerful stories over the past few years about how accessing care online has been life-changing and in some cases life-saving for people.
Many of us have ideas, dreams, and passions, but never manifest them. Is this what you always pictured doing? Do you have any recommendations for people who are trying to achieve something?
I always knew that I wanted to work in healthcare. I never imagined that I would be able to do that in the current telehealth format, which is a wonderful thing.
Find something that resonates with you and that you genuinely feel passionate about. Dreams and ideas generally don’t take a linear path so understand that there will be pivots and disappointments along the way. Understand that flexibility and patience will help you. Learn early that admitting mistakes is much easier than trying to cover them up. Don’t be afraid to change course if it no longer suits you.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began working for your organization?
There is an incredibly smart, talented and warm group of people who work at Hims & Hers. Collectively everyone is working to make healthcare more accessible and to destigmatize conditions that aren’t always openly talked about. I have had the opportunity to share my experience in the mental health field with co-workers in different areas who are always open to learning and creating better ways for people to get treatment.
None of us can be successful without some help along the way. Did you have mentors or cheerleaders who helped you to succeed? Can you tell us a story about their influence?
I have been lucky to have several mentors and colleagues along the way who helped guide and support me. In college, I was a teaching assistant for a professor who also did forensic evaluations for the DC court. I worked on an independent study project with him and at the end of the semester he told me that I had a real talent for clinical work. He was one of the first people to provide this simple feedback, but it stuck with me.
Further into my career when I entered the behavioral health startup world, I have had several colleagues who believed in my ability to do new things when I couldn’t do that for myself. Being asked to do things outside of my experience and comfort zone was initially anxiety-provoking, but they never faltered in their support. Because of that I was able to discover a new set of talents and trust my ability to be more diverse in what I could bring to the table.
According to Mental Health America’s report, over 44 million Americans have a mental health condition. Yet there’s still a stigma about mental illness. Can you share a few reasons you think this is so?
Changing long held perspectives can take time. There has definitely been progress made around reducing the stigma associated with mental illness, but unfortunately too much still remains. Education is a key component in changing the narrative. Collectively we need to be more vocal in challenging stereotypes about what mental illness is and isn’t.
In your experience, what should a) individuals b) society, and c) the government do to better support people suffering from mental illness?
- Don’t assume the people in your life are all ok. Ask questions and find out how they are doing. If they are struggling, educate yourself to better understand and support them.
- Society can be better aligned in treating mental illness with the same compassion and understanding that is given to someone with a physical condition. If you are suffering from depression or diabetes, both conditions should be given equal weight. Society can be better at understanding that physical and mental health are intertwined. You can’t experience physical health issues without an impact on your mental health and vice versa. Make mental health a part of our regular conversations, not just a trending topic when something happens to highlight it.
- Understand the significance of social determinants of health and address the disparity by developing and funding quality programs that help people. Focus more time and effort on education and prevention. If you are constantly talking about the mental health crisis then it means you missed all the red flags leading up to it.
What are your 5 strategies you use to promote your own wellbeing and mental wellness? Can you please give a story or example for each?
- Being physically active. I take long walks along with doing pilates and yoga. I spend so much time in my head that doing something physical is a great stress and anxiety reliever.
- I try to set boundaries. For me that means being able to reasonably say no without guilt and overexplaining. I also try to be mindful of going down a blackhole of too much time on social media or consuming news with multiple devices at the same time.
- Playing The New York Times Spelling Bee every day.
- Not feeling guilty about “guilty pleasures” — self care can sometimes be incorrectly seen as self-indulgence. If I am making reasonably healthy choices then I don’t feel bad about doing things for myself that make me feel good. I try to stay away from the need to have a reason or excuse to do something nice for myself.
- Being around animals makes me a happier person.
What are your favorite books, podcasts, or resources that inspire you to be a mental health champion?
Brene Brown’s Braving the Wilderness and Daring Greatly. Thich Nhat Hanh’s The Miracle of Mindfulness.
If you could tell other people one thing about why they should consider making a positive impact on our environment or society, what would you tell them?
Every person we encounter has their own story. On any given day, that story can be good, benign or one of struggle. We hear this all the time but you never know what another person is going through or the heaviness that they may be carrying. Emotional struggles are not always visually apparent. Simply be kind to others. If you find yourself feeling frustrated or wanting to react in anger unnecessarily, be mindful about the impact of your words. A simple act or word of kindness can elevate someone’s mood and day just as being thoughtless or unkind can ruin it. Be kind.
How can our readers follow you online?
Keep an eye on what we’re doing at Hims & Hers by following our social channels! Instagram/TikTok: @hims @hers
This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!
Mental Health Champions: Why & How Dr Beth Pausic of Hims & Hers Is Helping To Champion Mental… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.