“I see mental health advocacy as a human rights issue,” said Rudy Caseres.
Rudy is most passionate about advocating against forced treatment. It says this in his bio on Facebook. Rudy is a social media entrepreneur hosting live chats on Facebook with inspiring advocates of mental health. He was a cast member in the 2017 This is My Brave Los Angeles performance where he shared his story. He was also selected as one of the Mighty’s mental health heroes of 2017. He hosts the Facebook live chats No Restraints with Rudy Caseres where he interviews people passionate about mental health. He also hosts Brave Chats as part of This is My Brave on fb live where he interviews past cast members. A poignant interviewer, Rudy is brave and strong and the future of mental health advocacy.
Rudy was a former a 35F Intel Analyst in the US Army and had this to say about changing the culture surrounding mental health in the military.
“Too many people don’t want to come out about their mental health because they are afraid they will be discharged, end up in a psych ward or be ostracized. Their military career will be over,” he said. “It’s gotton a little better recently but it needs to be easier for people to reach out to therapists and peer counselors.”
After the military, Rudy attended Santa Monica College to study theatre where he became involved in their Active Minds chapter. The chapter held a prize wheel in the quad and Rudy began to make presentations about mental health, learning this was a strength of his. Rudy, who has bipolar, was in the process of figuring out his illness, himself and his strengths.
“Active Minds helped me at that time because I was dropping out of classes left and right, seeing a therapist, feeling I will never make it through this,” said Rudy. “Active Minds got me through it.”
Rudy stepped away from college for awhile and began his career giving presentations to groups about mental health and using Facebook live to make others aware about what other mental health advocates were doing.
In 2017, he discovered the organization This is My Brave, which uses storytelling and other arts to break the stigma and discrimination out there surrounding mental health. He auditioned to be a cast member and starred in the 2017 Los Angeles show.
Rudy’s advocacy stems from his own experience of psych wards, restraints, and forced treatments. By doing this work, he feels he validates the pain and trauma of others. He practices self-care with long drives up the California coast, bike rides, hiking, and of course, mental health advocacy. Rudy loves to joke around, and humor sometimes can be the best medicine.
“I could do mental health advocacy every day,” he said. “I’m good at it and it gives me meaning.”
Rudy will be hosting a storytelling forum titled Heartbreak and Healing: Your Stories of Love, Loss, and Lunacy on Februaary 11 at 7PM at the Garden Free Church in San Pedro, CA. It is a free event and those on the west coast should feel free to attend.
You can find out about This is My Brave shows and how to get involved by clicking here.