By Olivia Moen, DLE Copywriter/ Content Creator Intern, Undergraduate at Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY
In today’s work environment, mental health has become a growing concern for organizations. There has been a drastic increase in demand for resources to help cope and educate individuals with mental health problems.
Dayna Altman, public health professional, mental health entrepreneur, author and speaker has taken her own unique initiative on the mental health crisis.
A dual graduate of Northeastern University, Dayna has consistently been involved with the human services field, working to educate individuals on mental health and support those who have experienced domestic or sexual violence. She has created her own organizations to support mental health awareness–also serving as a mental health advocate, professional speaker and published author.
Her story started when she faced her own mental health struggles. “I realized that nobody was talking about it. I finally did my own research, looked at the statistics and realized that I wasn’t alone.”
She has written two books–Bake it Till You Make it: Breaking Bread, Building Resilience (2019) and Mix, Melt, Mend: Owning My Story & Finding My Freedom (2020). Bake it Till You Make it is a “mental health cookbook” in which various personal stories are shared coupled with baking recipes.
After experiencing a serious car accident, Dayna was stuck at home with not much to do. She started baking to occupy her time but found much more in the kitchen than she expected.
“It is so much more than just a book about food. It is really about storytelling,” she explains. Dayna utilized both her books to speak on mental health in correspondence with baking because she saw that food made the “mental health conversation” less intimidating.
Last fall Dayna found an application for the MTV Mental Health Youth Action Forum while scrolling on Instagram. “I apply for everything I see. I saw this advertisement, and I knew it would be a great opportunity.”
The event was hosted by MTV Entertainment Group, in coordination with the Biden-Harris Administration and 18 leading mental health non-profits. It was a two-day forum located in Washington D.C that included various workshops and discussion groups with non-profit mentors and professionals in the field.
Out of hundreds of applicants, Dayna and 29 other young mental health advocates were selected to attend. “For six weeks, myself and the other young leaders met with our non-profit partners. We were all put in small groups to create different campaigns. My campaign, ‘Tying Common Threads,’ focused on unity with emphasis on international and cultural trauma.”
Dayna also was chosen as a guest speaker at the White House. “Essentially, I answered a few questions, and I was chosen to speak about my book, Bake it Till You Make it,” she explains. Once the forum concluded, Zoom, the software program, gave every young leader $5,000 to advance their individual work. “This was such an incredible gift. It will allow me to advance my goals, such as potential partnerships in the future.”
“The weeks leading up to the event were nerve-wracking because the stakes were so high. I mean, how often do you get to go to the White House and speak? My biggest piece of advice to those on a similar journey is that what is meant for you will not pass you by. It was truly an amazing event that I am so grateful to have been a part of. I hope my entrepreneurial journey continues in this direction and I am excited to see what will come from this!”
Click here to watch Dayna featured in the CBS Boston news.