Lisa Scimens is a founder of FamilySanity.org, an online resource for parents of teens and young adults with mental health and addiction issues.
Lisa Scimens continues to be at the helm of Family Sanity. Her personal experience in combination with her non-profit and MediaSavvy leadership, along with her media background are getting Family Sanity firmly established in the San Francisco Bay Area and poised for growth beyond the Bay.
Q: What's your background, and what are you working on?
Professionally, I spent almost 20 years as a Producer at the ABC TV station In San Francisco. Though being a TV Producer was my ideal job in college, I did start out as a Psychology major. As a child I was a very creative person. I was always doing art, making clothes, etc. The reason I mention my creative side and my interest in psychology is that I have woven all three interests together in my work for at least the past 10 years.
I believe we are all multi-faceted and have many talents. I feel happiest when I can explore and develop many sides of myself.
Q: What motivated you to get started with Family Sanity?
My second child was born when I was 41. Once she about 4, we could see that she had some issues. Eventually I stopped working full-time, because she needed more attention. By the time she was in elementary school, we were taking her to all sorts of therapists and experts to find out way she was having problems. I come from a family with many mental health issues, so my radar was up. Once she was formally diagnosed, I quit working altogether. We eventually sent her to two therapeutic boarding schools for most of her high school years.
Given my studies in psychology and my love of researching from my TV days, I had gained a huge amount of knowledge about mental health conditions, learning disabilities, psychiatric medications, special schools and programs for children with mental health problems. It made me start to think about sharing this knowledge with other parents who had a child like my daughter. I had always knowledge or information is power. Many other parents I encountered did not know where to start when it came to helping their troubled child. Often they would be scared. I wanted to help these people.
And the way I wanted to do this was by creating a website. That was nearly 8 years ago. But, I hit a familiar stumbling block—I was not a techie. I had a few friends try to help me and about two years after our start, the Family Sanity website launched!
In the meantime, thinking I needed to help people in person as well, and that their experiences might help me provide more resources for my website, I started an in-person parent support group, facilitated by a therapist friend,
In my home once a month. Soon that grew to two groups—one for parents of teens and one for parents of young adults. I had definitely tapped into a need.
Q: What are your goals for the future?
To grow Family Sanity nationally. With Covid, we took our parent support groups online. Soon we started getting parents from NY, AZ, CO, Chicago, LA. After Covid is over, or at least when things are safer, we will continue to have one of the groups meet via zoom to accommodate parents outside of the Bay Area.
Q: What are the biggest challenges you've faced so far?
Other than technological challenges, fundraising is something I always worry about. But I’ve been pretty creative in that department. To fund the development of our website, I had my first open studio ever and sold $5K of my paintings in 2 days! Up until Covid, my artwork was our main source of income for Family Sanity. Then, right before Covid hit, I took an “E-commerce for Artists” class. I learned how to take some of designs from my artwork and make tote bags, cards, pillows, and other home décor products. Then I developed an online store and by June 2020 Dancing Artist Designs (www.dancingartistsdesigns.com) had launched!
Q: What's your advice for female founders who are just starting out?
Believe in yourself and do something you are passionate about.