To honor Mental Health Awareness Month, we collaborated with expert clinicians and educators to gather their insights on prioritizing mental health and fostering support from our communities. Discover their invaluable perspectives in our Q&A below. 


Claudia Welke, MD  

Co-Founder and Chief Medical Officer, Compass Health Center


Q. As a psychiatrist, how do you ensure that your own mental health and well-being are prioritized and integrated into your daily routine?  

A. Prioritizing my own mental health and well-being is important not only personally but also supports my ability to provide compassionate care to my patients and allows me to be at my best as a leader. I prioritize self-care practices such as making sure that I am getting good sleep, eating healthy, staying active, and through my favorite hobbies which include connecting with the outdoors, reading, dancing, and listening to music.  

I also make sure to have compassion for myself. I realized a long time ago that there is no "doing it all" and thus, I am not afraid to ask for support and help from others when I need it.  Lastly, connecting to others in my life is essential for my mental health. I truly cherish connecting with colleagues, family, and friends while working, doing fun activities or just spending quality time together.  


Q. How can colleagues and loved ones show their support for psychiatrists and nurse practitioners in their personal and professional lives?  

A. Psychiatrists and Nurse Practitioners are in the role of caring for others. Making sure that they are feeling cared for by colleagues, friends, and families is an important way for them to give the most to their patients and helps combat burnout. Colleagues, friends, and families can start with encouraging them to prioritize self-care activities such as exercise, hobbies, things that they do to relax... and offer to join them in these activities!   

Recognize that the work they do is demanding and can take an emotional toll. Show empathy and understanding by actively listening to how their day has gone and the challenges they may have encountered. Celebrate their accomplishments, no matter how small, and express gratitude for their work and the impact they are having on their patients, their teams, their friends, and families. 



Mary Kate Gruebnau, RN, BSN 

Senior Director of Nursing, Compass Health Center 


Q. In your role as a nurse, how do you ensure that your own mental health and well-being remain a priority? 

AMy dad worked as a General Electric Appliance Technician for his entire career. He loved helping others and problem-solving, which aided well when entering a customer’s home to tackle a repair. He’d always tell me growing up, “I can’t fix something unless I know how it works first.” He would explain that he needed to understand the mechanics, electronics, and inner workings before he was ready to begin any type of repair. I see so much commonality behind my dad’s wisdom and being able to provide quality and skilled nursing care. Unless I have the proper framework in place to remain mindful and attentive to my own mental health and well-being, I am unable to care for patients to my fullest potential. 

By nature, nurses are givers. This comes as a perpetual gift and trial to maintain balance for the service of others without exhausting the efforts and spirit of the nurse. For me, ensuring my own mental health and well-being starts with self-compassion. Simply put, the process of turning compassion inward. Recognizing that while nurses hold this tremendous responsibility and privilege of helping those in need, we are human. All nurses at some point in their career have either personally experienced or witnessed the consequences of shortfalls in self-compassion. Putting our basic needs of nourishment, sleep, exercise, and connection aside hurts not only us, but it influences our facilities as a healthcare provider. 

During the peaks of the COVID-19 pandemic, like countless healthcare workers, we placed our patients first, our colleagues second, and ourselves third. This type of triage works for the short-term but does not provide a sustainable path, especially when navigating through a global pandemic. Even in the greatest of hardships, we must find small, but consistent moments for reflection, rest, and nourishing our mind, body, and spirit. On a personal note, I saw the value and impact on my mental health with small shifts like prioritizing sleep, taking a daily walk, journaling, and silencing my phone during family time to remain present. With time, these small, daily commitments made me feel stronger and more capable in my life and nursing work.     

Self-compassion decreases depression, stress, and burnout in care professionals, including nurses. Take the advice we offer our patients and ask for help when you need it. Acknowledging when we need help is important, especially for those who are struggling to care for themselves. You are not alone and your mental health and well-being matter. 


Q. What actions do you find most meaningful from colleagues and loved ones when it comes to supporting your mental health objectives as a nurse? 
A. The actions that I’ve found most meaningful are the collaborative efforts amongst our colleagues to create a safe environment for reflection, decompression, sparking curiosity, being vulnerable, and building community. Keeping the chains of communication open and valuing each person’s experiences and needs helps us foster a strong foundation for impactful healthcare. Celebrating the wins and providing a listening ear for the hardships goes a long way. Make space for communication. 



Elizabeth Recinto, MED, MAT 

Director of Education, Compass Health Center 


Q. How do you plan to prioritize your mental health and well-being this summer as you prepare for the new school year in the fall?  
A. During the school year, like most families, we experience the hustle and bustle of balancing expectations—academics, work, and everything else in between! So as a teacher, each summer serves as an invitation to focus on my own mental health and well-being by holding space to 'fill my bucket' with extra quality time with family and friends, travel, and volunteering in the community. Most importantly, summers give me time to recharge my battery and reflect on our impactful work—while gearing up and setting my sights on the upcoming school year!


Q. What specific actions or gestures from colleagues and loved ones do you find most supportive in helping you achieve your mental health goals as a teacher?  
A. At the end of a tough meeting or hard day or week, there is nothing that compares to having the support of my colleagues at Compass Chicago—whether it’s engaging in small talk while passing each other in the halls, intentionally checking in to see how we’re managing, or simply distracting ourselves with irreverent banter. It’s truly with them that I find support for my mental health in the workplace. When facing a challenging day, it becomes worthwhile knowing you can turn to other team members, united in our common goals and focus on patient care. Being 'in the trenches' together and experiencing the rewards of seeing our patients and families thrive fuels my work as a teacher. And, of course, I’m grateful to my husband, Shawn, who helps me process my day and always offers a positive perspective!



Katrina Shannon, LMFT 

Director of Center of Excellence, Compass Health Center 

Q. What strategies do you recommend for families to effectively support their child's mental health and overall well-being within the family system?  

A. Oftentimes when we want to support someone, we lean in to offer support in the way we would prefer to receive it.  It can be helpful to first and foremost check in with your child on what type of support they find beneficial. Are they someone who prefers to talk/share and receive validation? Would they prefer engaging in quality time? Their preferred mode of support can also change with the  presenting challenge or the individual they are receiving support from, so it can be valuable to ask your child, "what does effective support look like for you?" 



Prioritizing Mental Health in Your Daily Life 

As we all explore Mental Health Awareness Month and its meanings, we want to leave you with a gentle reminder to pause and reflect on your own mental well-being. Take a moment to think about how you're prioritizing it amidst the hustle of daily life. And hey, don't forget about those around you! A quick check-in with friends or family members who might be going through a tough time can mean the world to them. 

Remember, you're not alone in this journey. If you're ever in need of extra support or resources, don't hesitate to reach out. We're here to lend a listening ear and a helping hand whenever you need it. Together, let's keep prioritizing mental health and spreading kindness wherever we go. 



Further Reading 


Brittney Teasdale

Associate Director of Brand Management