My Lived Experience Expertise

I have lived with severe bipolar I disorder with psychosis for over 20 years and reached recovery in 2018.

Since then, I have shared my lived experience expertise through peer support, writing, coaching, research, and advocacy to help people with serious mental illness (SMI) and their supporters. My work delivers insights from my own personal experiences navigating my SMI and professional experience helping others in their journey.

My personal experience includes:

  • five severe psychotic manic episodes
  • numerous major depressive episodes
  • suicidal depression
  • three involuntary psychiatric hospitalizations
  • personal and career disruptions
  • withdrawal and isolation
  • criminal justice involvement
  • learning how to work with my caregiver who has been with me through my entire SMI journey
  • proactively seeking, reaching and maintaining my recovery
  • treatment with multiple psychiatrists, therapists, and other healthcare providers, hospital programs, and hospitals

My professional experience includes:

  1. Researching and writing about a wide range of SMI topics. My research has focused on evidence-based approaches to pursue and reach recovery.
  2. Collaborating with world leading mental illness recovery scholars as a faculty member of the Program for Recovery and Community Health, Department of Psychiatry, School of Medicine, Yale University.
  3. Engaging with and coaching hundreds of caregivers who sought to help their loved ones with SMI. I am also a Certified Psychiatric Rehabilitation Practitioner.
  4. Working extensively with the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) which focuses on helping supporters of people with SMI. I am currently a director of its New York City affiliate, one of NAMI’s largest.
  5. Interacting with hundreds of peers living with SMI. I am a trained New York Certified Peer Specialist-Provisional. I engage with these specialists and other peers at industry and community organizations and events and through the ForLikeMinds peer support community that I created. My 501(c)(3) non-profit psychiatric hospital outreach program, Psych Ward Greeting Cards has reached over 10,000 patients.
  6. Promoting and advocating for mental health recovery and positive change in perceptions, behaviors, and treatment approaches through social and traditional media.
  7. Working with companies, behavioral health organizations, including leading hospitals, and investment advisors on shared mental health outreach and recovery initiatives.

My experiences over the years have taught me strategies that can help caregivers and their loved ones with SMI:

  1. Respond to Mental Illness
  2. Manage Difficult Situations
  3. Talk About Mental Illness
  4. Pursue Recovery Together
  5. Empathize and Validate Emotions
  6. Exercise Self-care

I have shared my lived experience expertise in many ways. These include my thought leadership and one-on-one work with families impacted by mental illness.

My thought leadership is exemplified by my extensive writings.

  • I have written widely regarding SMI since reaching recovery in 2018.
  • My writings have been widely recognized for their insight, information, and inspiration by readers impacted by SMI and academics, clinicians, and other experts in the field.
  • My writings share my hard-learned lessons along with evidence-based insights from academic research, peers living with SMI, their caregivers, and treatment providers.
  • My favorite place to share is the NAMI Blog given its wide reach with caregivers. I believe I can best help my peers living with SMI by helping those who love and support them. My posts for NAMI consistently rank at the top of Google search results for relevant mental illness related keyword searches. They have generated over 750,000 views as of January 2023. Further below is a list of my various writings.
  • I have also been sought to share my expertise in academic publications, industry conferences, presentations to companies and hospitals, and interviews with major news outlets.

Through my one-on-one work, I:

  • Help caregivers better understand and connect with their loved ones, particularly if and when their loved ones may be ambivalent about getting help.
  • Coach caregivers to better understand and work with their loved ones with SMI. This insight can help strengthen their relationships, reducing tension and conflict, to reach recovery together.

These are a sample of my writings:

  1. Blog Posts
  2. (All blog posts written by K. Ponte as sole author, except where noted.)
  3. Articles in prestigious academic publications
    • Being a Mental Health Ally, HBR Guide to Better Mental Health at Work (HBR Guide Series) Paperback, Harvard Business Review – Sep. 27, 2022.
    • A Risk Too Big Not to Take: A Story of Recovery, American Psychiatric Association, Psychiatric Services, Feb. 11, 2020.
    • Stigma, Meet Hope, Schizophrenia Bulletin, Feb. 20, 2019.
  4. Highly praised ForLikeMinds: Mental Illness Recovery Insights Book
  5. Excerpt from foreword:
    “I have been waiting for over 30 years for someone to write a book like this - an instructive and very practical guide - directly applicable to the everyday lives of persons living with mental illnesses and their loved ones - offering them a hand and leading them step by step through many of the lessons Katherine has had to learn mostly on her own - from creative, dogged, and prolonged efforts to find a way to build and maintain a full life in the face of a serious illness”
    —Larry Davidson, Ph.D., Professor of Psychiatry, School of Medicine, Yale University
  6. Highly praised Your Mental Health Recovery Workbook: A Workbook to Share Hope
  7. Received highly positive endorsements from leading academics, clinicians, non-profit leaders, a hospital, a parent, and a peer.
    See endorsements here

Firsthand knowledge and experience about consumers unmet needs amid the evolving treatment landscape. Providing insights from lived experience expertise to enhance patient treatment outcomes. Understanding patient perspectives when forecasting the impact of new treatment options. Appreciating how patients define recovery for themselves. I look forward to hearing from you.


Psych Ward Greeting Cards