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After 25 years, Psych Central has received a makeover. Some things are the same, some are new, and some are different. Now that Psych Central’s founder, Dr. John Grohol, has retired from running the website, for the first time in our history, we have a new Editor in Chief. Join us for today’s show as we learn about the new Psych Central and meet our newly minted — and super cool — Editor in Chief, Faye McCray. Listen Now!
Faye McCray is the Editor in Chief of Psych Central, and she is passionate about healing and mental health awareness. She is also a published author and essayist whose work has been featured in many popular publications. Faye is a former health lawyer with degrees from Binghamton University and Howard University School of Law. Faye resides in the DC metro area with her husband and three sons. You can find Faye on Twitter @fayewrites, IG @heyfayemccray, and Facebook at facebook.com/fayewrites.
Gabe Howard is an award-winning writer and speaker who lives with bipolar disorder. He is the author of the popular book, Mental Illness is an Asshole and other Observations, available from Amazon; signed copies are also available directly from the author.
To learn more about Gabe, please visit his website, gabehoward.com.
Producer’s Note: Please be mindful that this transcript has been computer generated and therefore may contain inaccuracies and grammar errors. Thank you.
Announcer: You’re listening to Inside Mental Health: A Psych Central Podcast where experts share experiences and the latest thinking on mental health and psychology. Here’s your host, Gabe Howard.
Gabe Howard: Hey, everyone, and welcome to this week’s episode of Inside Mental Health: A Psych Central Podcast, I’m your host, Gabe Howard, and I want to quickly thank our sponsor, Better Help. You can get a week free by visiting BetterHelp.com/PsychCentral. Calling into our show today, we have Faye McCray. Ms. McCray is the Editor in Chief of PsychCentral.com and is passionate about mental health awareness. She is a former health lawyer with degrees from Binghamton University and Howard University School of Law and currently resides in the D.C. metro area with her husband and three sons. Ms. McCray, welcome to the show.
Faye McCray: Thank you so much for having me, Gabe.
Gabe Howard: You are the new, like newly minted right?
Faye McCray: Yeah.
Gabe Howard: Editor in Chief of PsychCentral.com. For 25 years, it was ran by its founder, Dr. John Grohol, who has been a previous guest on Inside Mental Health. So longtime listeners know him. I hate to say you’re the new Dr. Grohol, but you’re the new Editor in Chief. What’s that feel like?
Faye McCray: It’s pretty amazing, I mean, it’s certainly big shoes, because Dr. John was incredible and what he built has been incredible. It feels wonderful to step into this role and to take this responsibility, which I take very seriously.
Gabe Howard: PsychCentral.com is no stranger to change. Twenty-five years ago, it was basically just a series of articles in text form. The Internet looked, of course, very, very different. And it’s kept up with the times. Five years ago, it started a podcast. That’s my favorite part. I don’t want to talk too much about what the next 25 years hold, but obviously being guided by its founder and now being guided by you, there’s going to be some changes. And I’m excited about those changes. Without, you know, making this a show about how awesome PsychCentral.com is, what are some things that you’re looking at to streamline the process and make sure that PsychCentral.com stays the awesome destination for mental health information that it’s always been?
Faye McCray: Yeah, absolutely, I can tell you what’s going to stay the same is we’re going to consistently provide accurate information. It’s going to be medically reviewed. We’re going to make sure that we’re still a hub that you can come to and have your questions answered in a responsible way. One thing that I’m looking forward to is really just navigating and exploring the changing mental health landscape. There are so many issues that come up due to intersectionality and diversity. Mental health issues look different in different communities. And I think what I’m most looking forward to is exploring my own blind spots and kind of finding out those areas that we don’t discuss or those alternative methods of treatment that we’re not aware of and really shining a light on what mental health care looks like in different communities and in fact, what it looks like in 2021. I mean, so many advances, even technologically, right? That we’ve all become aware of, this pandemic has forced us to kind of reach out virtually and connect with people through apps and in different modes of communication. I’m really, really looking forward to just looking at it forward, facing what is mental health going to look like 10 years from now? What is addressing these issues? What is it going to look like to come together as communities to have these conversations?
Gabe Howard: Longtime listeners of the show know that one of my soapbox points is that physical health and mental health should be treated identically. It’s the same person. It’s the same body. If we’re not looking at our whole selves, we’re not going to be well. And people are often surprised when I also believe that we need physical health websites and a mental health website. And they’re like, well, no, wait a minute, can’t we just go to Healthline.com or I’m not going to mention that web one, web doctor will just call it that. Everybody’s heard of it. Right? But they’re like, why do we need PsychCentral.com anyways? If we wanted to be whole health, then isn’t that well represented in the space? And just to be clear, Healthline.com has a lot of stuff on mental health. So why do we need Psych Central at all? Wouldn’t the natural next advocacy point be to just incorporate mental health into the entire wellness spectrum and then we don’t need Psych Central? What do you say to that?
Faye McCray: That’s an excellent point, and I know one thing that I can draw on, my legal experience as a health lawyer for over a decade, is that they always went in tandem. Any time someone who was suffering from a chronic illness, there was always a component of it where they had to have their mental health issues addressed. I agree treating the whole person is so important. I think the benefit, or I should say I know the benefit, that we have with Psych Central is that we’re going to get to dive deep. Like Healthline does a fantastic job. They have a beautiful voice and they really touch on these mental health issues. But I want us to go even further, take the conversation even further. I want to explore the nuances and like I said, how different mental illnesses manifest themselves in different people and just really dive deep into these issues and get a hold of the community, really reach out and have these discussions and seek these POV’s and just really, really dive deep.
Gabe Howard: One of the things that I like to point out to people is that paying attention to the whole of something doesn’t mean that you can’t have it in its little niches. Right? Like, I go to the gym to work out, but I go to a restaurant to eat. I’m not advocating that we combine the gym and the restaurant into one building in order to have diet and exercise. Right? You can pay attention to both at the same time, but still have separate places to go.
Faye McCray: Absolutely.
Gabe Howard: Do you feel like that’s a good analogy for why Psych Central needs to exist? To make sure that the people running Psych Central are 100% focused on mental health, which is extraordinarily important?
Faye McCray: One hundred percent. I have a fantastic editorial team, and when we meet and we discuss article ideas and when we’re coming up with images or graphics to go with our articles, the conversation says, hey, is this image stigmatizing? We’re able to kind of look at these nuances and we can pay attention to our language and how we’re talking about these things in a way I don’t think we would be able to if we weren’t 100% focused on mental health.
Gabe Howard: When we talk about focusing 100% on mental health, does that mean that there will never be any physical health content on PsychCentral.com?
Faye McCray: No, I think what is going to ultimately happen is we’re going to talk about physical issues in conjunction with Healthline. I’ve already gotten so many letters from folks who are on the site. We asked for suggestions in the newsletter and we have gotten suggestions from folks who are very interested in us talking about what it’s like to have a chronic illness and suffer from a mental health condition. It’s going to be important for us to address how these things work in tandem or how one affects the other. You probably won’t see an article on back pain without a mention of anything about mental illness, but we certainly won’t ignore that part of the equation.
Gabe Howard: I really like the point that you made there about how we won’t see an article on back pain unless we’re talking about mental health. This makes Gabe the mental health advocate so excited because so many people believe that back pain doesn’t make you cranky. I know that when I am in pain, I am not my best. I’m not having my best mental health day. Right? So, I think there is like a very deep dive that we can get into about the emotional toll or even the traumatic toll of pain. Will things like that, and I know that’s like a very specific example, so kind of think broad. But will articles like that appear on the new Psych Central?
Faye McCray: I would love for an article like that to appear in the new Psych Central. I mean, when we’re talking about autoimmune disorders, we’re talking about folks who have maybe suffered from misdiagnosis for years and maybe their family members have been treating them like they’re making it all up. All of that can contribute to a whole litany of other issues. I would love to explore that more and explore more about how these things work in conjunction with one another.
Gabe Howard: And to sort of build on that question, the second part, a lot of people hear mental health, and they think that we’re only going to talk about bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, major depression, severe and persistent mental illness only will severe and persistent mental illness be represented along with the entire spectrum? Or is it just focused on severe and persistent mental illness? Which, of course, spoiler alert, you already said it wasn’t.
Faye McCray: Yeah, well, first of all, it’s going to be incredibly important for us to still explore that and explore experts in those areas that can shed light on treatment options and what it means to heal, not completely recover, but what that path and journey to healing looks like. But one thing that I’m personally super interested in is having conversations about preventative care for mental health. Like, what does it look like to take care of yourself in a way that you are seeking therapy proactively before you’re in crisis? So I want to talk about it all. I want to talk about wellness, and I want to dive deep into some of these illnesses.
Gabe Howard: And we’ll be right back after we hear from sponsors.
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Gabe Howard: And we’re back with Faye McCray, the Editor in Chief of PsychCentral.com.
Gabe Howard: Ms. McCray, I want to slide over to the left a little bit and talk about the online quizzes. Now, there’s two schools of thought on the online quizzes. One, it’s an excellent place to find out if you need to talk to your doctor, if you need to seek follow up help, if you, I’m going to use the word potentially qualify for a diagnosis, which is just a really terrible wording. And then the other school of thought is that it’s dangerous that people are at home self-diagnosing themselves with very serious illnesses. What are your thoughts on that and what do you want people to know about those mental health quizzes?
Faye McCray: Quizzes are a huge draw for folks. A lot of folks come to Psych Central for the quizzes and why not, right? I mean, they’re a way to kind of just assess yourself, to kind of sit down and take inventory of what you’re feeling and what symptoms may be. I have to say, the lawyer in me, when I first saw the quizzes, I freaked out because I thought I have to make sure that folks aren’t leaving this thinking they’re diagnosed with something or just leaving it feeling completely abandoned. Maybe that was more of the artist in me that was thinking, OK, I don’t want someone to take this quiz, now I have this diagnosis and I’m left out here alone, and I don’t know what it means. First and foremost, I want folks to know that our quizzes are not diagnostic tools. They are not intended to diagnose you with something. They are intended to do just that; kind of help you take inventory of yourself and have the right words to articulate yourself, should you take it a step further and speak to the doctor. One of my priorities in addressing the quizzes in their current iteration as they exist on Psych Central right now is to couple them with actionable items and the right information. I want you to be able to take one of these quizzes, do that inventory and then when you’re at the end, say, OK, what are my next steps? Here is an article about what this could mean and here is an article about how to now take this to your doctor, further the conversation. But I certainly don’t want it to be something that people think, I’m diagnosed with this and now I’m panicking or I’m diagnosed with this and now I’m going to self-treat. I want folks to always have actionable items and have it be coupled with the right education. So they’re making the best choices.
Gabe Howard: One of the things that I think about is in physical health, if you suspect that you’re sick, you make an appointment. I think I have the flu. I think I have pinkeye. You’ve got a little bit of knowledge. So you suspect something is wrong and then you go to a doctor and you confirm it. For some reason in mental health, we seem to want to have the diagnosis and then tell the doctor, like we don’t want to see anybody unless we’re positive we have it, which of course, is backwards. I think the quizzes are very helpful in this idea that you could say to a doctor, look, I took this online quiz and this is what I got. But of course, the most important piece of that is you’re now discussing your concerns,
Faye McCray: Yes.
Gabe Howard: Your suspicions with a health care professional. I love that you said the lawyer in me is like, oh, no this is. . . Because the mental health advocate in me was the same way. I’ve seen so many armchair psychologists read Bipolar for Dummies and diagnose half their friends and family with bipolar disorder.
Faye McCray: Oh, yeah.
Gabe Howard: And I was like, oh, are there safeguards in place? I imagine that when you’re done taking the quiz, it doesn’t just say you have bipolar or you have depression. It words it in such a way and pushes you toward the next steps.
Faye McCray: This is something to spark a conversation. This is something for you to have the words to say I am experiencing racing thoughts or to be able to describe the things that you’re feeling. That’s one of the benefits. And one of the things I love most about reading, right? Is that you’re able to see yourself sometimes in the things that you read or you’re able to articulate things in a way that you didn’t really know how to say them. So I want this to be conversation starters and I want to make sure that we have the right language and again, those actionable items so that you can walk away with it feeling like, OK, I have something to start that conversation.
Gabe Howard: When I think about starting conversations, one of the things I think about is all the way back when I was first diagnosed with bipolar disorder, because here I am, I have the diagnosis, I got it from a doctor. It was 100% true. It’s handed to me. It’s minted. I’m a newly minted bipolar and I’m telling everybody in my family, right? Because this is what you do when you’re diagnosed with an illness, especially if you want support and help and commiseration. And of course, the number one question that I got is, what’s that? What does this mean you’re crazy? Just I think anybody who’s been diagnosed with a severe and persistent mental illness or who knows somebody who’s been diagnosed knows exactly what I’m talking about. One of the things that I liked about Psych Central, again, all the way back when, is I could read articles that other people wrote, people like me, people with a diagnosis, wrote about their experience. And they were a little further along, they were further down the road. And the way that they wrote it, they put into words what I was not yet able to put into words. And I could forward that article to, you know, my mom or my dad or my friend and say, this is what I was trying to explain and this would spark that conversation. Will there still be that lived experience component on Psych Central or is it all experts, all doctors all the time?
Faye McCray: My objective, honestly, is to find these stories and get out of the way, allow people the space and the platform to be able to tell these stories in a way that you will be able to see yourself and your story. Again, you will be able to, like you said, forward that article along to folks to start those difficult conversations with folks from your families just so that you have the right words. But there’s certainly going to be the expert component. Don’t get me wrong, that is really important. And we work with a fantastic group of medical experts to make sure all of our content is sound and accurate. And I’m hoping to gain more columnists in the professional community. But what’s extremely important to me is hearing from people who are looking to tell their stories and who are looking to connect with other people. Just incredibly crucial that we have that platform.
Gabe Howard: You mentioned looking for new bloggers, new writers, new contributors. Is there a process to apply for that? I don’t want to get a hundred emails at show@PsychCentral.com saying I want to be a writer. Can you help guide people in that direction?
Faye McCray: Yes, sure, so we do have an email, it’s write@PsychCentral.com. If you have an idea, you’re free to send your pitches to that email and just let us know what you’re thinking of, what you want to write about. If you have a fully fleshed out article, even better, and you could send it our way. And we have a fantastic team of editors who will make sure it’s the right fit and whip it, you know, into the best possible shape and get it on up. But the starting point is write@PsychCentral.com.
Gabe Howard: Now, Ms. McCray, one of the more popular features of the, I’m going to go with old Psych Central or the Psych Central that existed previous to you being the Editor in Chief was the forums. And that’s sort of how Psych Central got its start, just this place for people to gather and talk. Now they’re gone right now. Is there any future plans to bring them back in some way or allow people to build community? Or is that part of Psych Central just gone forever?
Faye McCray: The forums were a huge part of the identity of the older Psych Central or Psych Central in its original iteration, I should say. It’s something we’re absolutely exploring just in terms of building a community. We know how important it was for folks to connect, and we’d love to see that continue on the new Psych Central. Funny, we have two editors that said they were on them when they were teenagers and they were just they saved their lives. They were so important. We need something like it.
Gabe Howard: Yeah, I was one of those people. You know, the world looked, Internet looked very different a long time ago.
Faye McCray: Yeah.
Gabe Howard: I think sometimes we forget that, like, even folks that are old enough to remember life without the Internet, I think we forget that the Internet used to be just this big text field with like a random picture that loaded exceptionally slowly. But this ability to go into an anonymous place, because anonymity still kind of existed back then and say,
Faye McCray: Yeah.
Gabe Howard: I just have this question and you could be. . . you could be so vulnerable.
Faye McCray: Right.
Gabe Howard: Here’s the story of what happened. What do I do? And people would be like, look, the same thing happened to me. And people would say, look, here’s how it resolved itself and.
Faye McCray: Yeah, yeah.
Gabe Howard: It’s difficult to explain that to somebody that hasn’t been through it.
Faye McCray: Yeah, for me, it wasn’t the forums on Psych Central, I didn’t get to explore that, but I was a big chat room person on AOL. I guess you can tell how old I was, how old I am. But that was like same thing, though. Kind of like, oh, this is a space that I can just be completely anonymous and vulnerable.
Gabe Howard: It’s exciting and I hope that our listeners recognize how exciting it’s going to be in the next year and then for the next 24. We’re just going to wake up and it’s going to be like year 50 and we’re going to be passing the torch. I don’t, it goes that fast.
Faye McCray: It does, I know.
Gabe Howard: There should be an article about the mental health effects of aging.
Faye McCray: Yes.
Gabe Howard: I’ll send it to write@PsychCentral.com.
Faye McCray: [Laughter]
Gabe Howard: Obviously, I’m a huge Psych Central fan.
Faye McCray: Me too.
Gabe Howard: So, Ms. McCray, you have incredibly huge shoes to fill. Are you up for the task?
Faye McCray: I’m not just up for it, I’m excited. Like I’m invigorated by it. I was just saying to someone the other day before I came on board, when I was kind of transitioning out of my old job, I was chomping at the bit to do things. Like I had a Google doc on my personal computer just filled with ideas that I couldn’t wait to start sharing with the team. And so I am just so excited about all the potential that we have for this site. I think the pandemic has offered us such a unique time. Isolation has amplified a lot of issues for folks. There’s so many stories there. I also think that there’s just been this great time for introspection. Like, I don’t know about you, but all my friends and family are thinking about the past, thinking about the present. I mean, everybody has so many conversations that they’re having to heal from things that they’ve experienced or changing the way that they want to live. So just diving into that and again, as I mentioned at the beginning, just the awareness of that intersectionality in health and how mental health issues manifest themselves differently in people of color and in LGBTQ+ folks. I mean, there’s just so many stories to tell. And like you said, we have a fantastic platform that Dr. John has paved the way for us. I’m just so enthusiastic about all that we’re going to accomplish.
Gabe Howard: I love your excitement, I love your enthusiasm, and I am so, so glad that you are here. The last 25 years have been exceptional and the next 25 years are going to be even better with you at the helm. Ms. McCray, thank you so much for being our new Editor in Chief. Thank you so much for being on the show. This is usually the part where I say, hey, do you want to plug any websites? I imagine you’re going to plug PsychCentral.com?
Faye McCray: Absolutely. Visit PsychCentral.com. Take a look at our new look. Follow us on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest or everywhere. We have a fantastic social media team that is so engaging and really listening to folks who are on those platforms. So please, please, please find us, find us, send us an email and let us know what you think.
Gabe Howard: It was super awesome to have you here, Ms. McCray, and it’s super awesome to have all of our listeners here as well. Please follow the show. It’s absolutely free. Review the show. Take a moment and write down why other people should be tuning in. My name is Gabe Howard and I am the author of Mental Illness Is an Asshole and Other Observations, as well as a nationally recognized public speaker. Wouldn’t it be awesome to have me at your next event? You can grab a signed copy of my book and get free swag or just learn more about me over at gabehoward.com. I will see everybody next Thursday on Inside Mental Health.
Announcer: You’ve been listening to Inside Mental Health: A Psych Central Podcast from Healthline Media. Have a topic or guest suggestion? E-mail us at show@PsychCentral.com. Previous episodes can be found at PsychCentral.com/Show or on your favorite podcast player. Thank you for listening.