Stars Making a Social Impact: Why & How Misha McK & Suicide Watch and Wellness Foundation Are Helping To Change Our World
I wish someone had told me how much time it takes to increase the awareness throughout our country of how important it is to rid the stigmas surrounding suicide and mental Illness in order to eradicate it.
As a part of our series about stars who are making an important social impact, I had the pleasure of interviewing Misha McK.
MISHA MCK is an actress, producer, and television talk show host, who featured and starred in the NBC primetime situation comedy, “Me & Mrs. C”, and is the co-founder of Suicide Watch and Wellness Foundation, a Mississippi-based 501 C3 tax exempt, nonprofit organization to create and increase public awareness and education, to rid the stigmas surrounding suicide and mental illness, as well as serve as a resource to those who struggle.
Thank you so much for joining us on this interview series. Can you share with us the backstory that led you to this career path?
While attending Syracuse University, I began as a pre-med major because I dreamed of becoming a pediatrician. However, after three years I got a little disheartened about the continuous and seemingly endless courses and I began to feel bored with the major. A friend of mine encouraged me to audition for a Broadway play “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide / When The Rainbow Is Enuf” to be held at the Syracuse Stage, a regional theatre. I did land a part in the Broadway production and became a member of the Actors Equity Association. Arthur Storch, the Producer of the Syracuse Stage, introduced me to my first agent Bruce Savan of Agency For The Performing Arts. I auditioned for an NBC half-hour situation comedy that aired following The Golden Girls called Me & Mrs. C and landed the starring role!
It has been said that our mistakes can be our greatest teachers. Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
The biggest funniest mistake I made was during one of our mental health awareness field trip workshops for first and third graders. I had a group of 90 and asked them to tell me their names.
I should have said “tell me your names, one at a time”! We heard the loudest pandemonium EVER! All 90 students shouted their names ALL at the same time. That was truly funny.
It taught me to take my time in life. Everything doesn’t have to happen or even be solved all at once. Saving lives from suicide is not a blanket solution. One life, one day, one minute at a time will work wonders. God gave several days to create the heavens and the earth.
What would you advise a young person who wants to emulate your success?
I would not have a young person, or any person emulate me. You are perfect the way God has created you. Please do not look to emulate anyone else! You are who YOU have been created to be! Please, dig down in your own soul and feel your being. Think about why you are here on this earth.
Is there a person that made a profound impact on your life? Can you share a story?
The person that has made a profound impact on my life is my Mom!
My mom became a single mom when I was on my way off to Syracuse University. She always told me to “Never put yourself in a position to be harassed” and to “Do what YOU know is the RIGHT thing to do”. Trust me, living by this advice has kept me safe all my life!
How are you using your success to bring goodness to the world? Can you share with us the meaningful or exciting causes you’re working on right now?
I am so excited about our Misha McK Show. It airs here in Mississippi on WAPT every Saturday at 5:00 p.m. Our program creates and increases awareness about the “rabbit hole” we are drifting down in regard to suicide and losing the ability to rid the stigmas surrounding suicide and mental illness! We are losing our future and something needs to be done.
Can you share with us a story behind why you chose to take up this particular cause?
Why I chose to take up this particular cause is simple. My husband Ron and I were riding on a commuter bus. As we crossed the George Washington Bridge going from New York City to New Jersey, the bus driver said, “did you know that more than 10 people jump off this bridge every day?” That took us on the path of figuring out what in the world is going on in our country and why so many people struggle with mental illness and suicide ideation in America.
Can you share with us a story about a person who was impacted by your cause?
Sherley Fleming had a very close friend who ended her life by jumping off a bridge in Georgia. Sherley told viewers of the Misha McK Show that after meeting me and my husband Ron, the Founders of Suicide Watch And Wellness Foundation, she is now “watching” her loved ones, family and friends and making sure she pays attention because she cares. To show “care” is to watch.
Are there three things or are there things that individuals, society, or the government can do to support you in this effort?
The three things that individuals, society and the government can do to support Suicide Watch And Wellness Foundation and our effort to rid the stigmas surrounding suicide and mental illness is to provide contributions, sponsorship, grants and other funding sources in order to create one of our amazing school programs Ambassadors Against Bullying. This program is a youth empowerment leadership program to eradicate bullying within the schools. Bullying is a major cause of suicide among youth.
At this point, there are no consequences for the bully. Our program has consequences. We also have programs for our veterans, people with disabilities, remedial reading, writing and math programs. All of these impactful activities cost money. So, the more financial support our organization has the more people we can serve!
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started”
1) I wish someone had told me how much funding we would need to be successful.
2) I wish someone had told me how much time it takes to increase the awareness throughout our country of how important it is to rid the stigmas surrounding suicide and mental Illness in order to eradicate it.
3) I wish someone told me there are so many people in denial about mental illness that plagues so many families and friends.
4) I wish someone told me before I found out on my own that mental illness is an invisible illness and there are too many that suffer in silence.
5) Finally, I wish someone would have told me that this mission is a never-ending battle until the awareness is prevalent and the stigmas are totally erased!
You’re a person of enormous influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
The movement I have started is the “I Care” Movement. This movement is already in progress in Mississippi. It is a television media campaign focused on creating awareness for mental health issues that push many people over the edge to the point where they take their own lives. My goal is to have this media campaign run on television networks across America to encourage each one of us to shift the stigma of mental health, show compassion for those who are struggling with these issues and to CARE about it!
Can you please give us your favorite life lesson quote? And can you explain how that was relevant in your life?
My favorite life lesson quotes are from Mark Twain. Mark shared that there are two important days of your life, “the day you were born and the day you find out why”. This quote makes us think about our purpose and reason for living, as well as how important our contributions are to the world. My second favorite quote from Mark is to “Never put off till tomorrow what you can do the day after tomorrow.” This quote is awesome because it allows one to take a pause and not stress or rush life.
We are blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.
I would like to have a private meal with Lady Gaga. She has gone through so much mental anguish and utilizes her creativity to share her experiences and solutions through song. Being vulnerable and sharing our stories plays a big part in shifting the stigma and increases awareness about situations that can and do affect our mental health. It would be amazing for her to join our “I Care” Movement!
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!
Stars Making a Social Impact: Why & How Misha McK & Suicide Watch and Wellness Foundation Are… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.