We were chatting one afternoon at the office she works out of in Philadelphia. For her day job, she is employed as a business analyst for an IT company. Yet Kat is well aware of the brain disease she so candidly speaks about. The story she shared with me was about her bipolar diagnosis, and the struggles that she has encountered since high school in fighting it. Bipolar disorder is a brain and behavioral disorder that, without medication, causes Kat to deal with manic and depressive periods that last for weeks at a time. Sometimes the manic phases resulted in five days of no sleep or indulging in binge shopping sprees. The disorder also ignited a symptom of the disease identified as psychosis that Kat explained, “felt like I was living in my own reality.” After extensive treatment and hospitalizations, she is ready to fight the negative reputation associated with mental health struggles and is looking for others to join in.
As of February 2018, Skilled Not Ill has made its mark in Philadelphia. Search for the website and you’re greeted with bold, large lettering that reads, “We Are Rooting For You,” which encompasses exactly what the group is all about. Skilled Not Ill is the mental health club Kat founded to fight the stigma associated with different mental health issues, which are more common than one might think. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (at NAMI.org), approximately one in five adults in the U.S.—43.8 million people—experience a mental illness. Kat uses her extensive training from IOP (intensive outpatient program) to put her skills to use, while encouraging others to come along. She explains the group is for modern humans who get sh*t done, but is very vocal about its purpose. The social meet-ups are a complement to existing mental health routines and should not be used in place of licensed treatment. All are welcome to attend, and Kat encourages anyone struggling with anxiety, depression, a mental health issue, or simply anyone looking to connect to join in. Members can expect multiple events and meetups during the year that range from: DBT/CBT (dialectical behavioral therapy/cognitive behavioral therapy) skills training, workshops, and monthly volunteer outings. There is no minimum fee to get involved and the group follows a pay what you feel pricing model. They can also expect messages like this, direct from the Founder:
– Kat Jost, Founder, Skilled Not Ill
Kat, we are rooting for you too.