Adversity: Diagnosed with Bipolar II
Advocacy: Started a nonprofit that recruits community leaders to talk about their mental illness
Katherine Switz is a Harvard graduate, has a bachelor’s degree from Dartmouth, speaks fluent Russian and is a high-level executive. She has a resume and experience that most only dream about – and she manages a debilitating mental illness. Switz had her first psychotic break while attending Harvard Business School. The mania that she was experiencing was a symptom of bipolar disorder. She was sent by ambulance to Harvard Medical Center where she was greeted with a question, “What kind of insurance do you have?” The realization that she might not get the treatment she needed without Harvard insurance coverage was the catalyst for Switz’s work in fighting the stigma associated with mental illness.
In 2013, Switz founded The Stability Network, a nonprofit organization that recruits community leaders who have struggled with mental illness to talk about their experience openly. The goal of the organization is to give those who may not have a stable career or home life a sense of hope and courage to speak up and get the help they need. More than 30 leaders have signed on to help erase the stigma of mental illness. Switz’s goal is to help the organization grow much bigger. “I’d love to be able to admit to my employer that I go to the doctor every week and rather than it be seen as a weakness, have it seen as if I am getting chemo or another kind of treatment.”