Reader’s Forum — Jennifer Bullock

Everything You Want to Know About Andrew Yang & the Forward Party
*But the Pundits, Politicians and Parties Hope You Won’t Ask
A Virtual Discussion Hosted by Politics for the People and Open Primaries
Wednesday, January 12th at 3pm EDT
Register here today!

Jenn Bullock (L) and Stephen Bouikidis (R)

Crises require transformation, of how we do it all…

Thank you, Andrew Yang! Running for President of the United States and then for Mayor of NYC with a commitment to honesty, humanity and integrity is no small feat. Thank you for speaking out publicly on the critical need for structural reforms in our political and election systems in order to address the crisis of our democracy. Thank you for inviting the country to join a new party that advocates for needed structural reforms. And thank you for writing Forward: Notes on the Future of Our Democracy.

As a long time political activist fighting for Open Primaries in Pennsylvania with Independent Pennsylvanians and as a psychotherapist deeply concerned about our mental health, individually and collectively, I so appreciate your strong advocacy for open primaries as well as the mental health needs of our citizens. Your personal stories were so moving, inviting us all to be regular humans together as we try to move through many difficult circumstances.

Just like we cannot address fundamental issues of education, health care, the economy, etc. without structurally transforming how our political system works, I wonder if cultural, relational, emotional transformation is also required (how do we build together with our disagreements? How do we incentivize innovation and the courage needed to try something new? How do we replace cancel culture with generous curiosity culture?)

I want to share an older blog I wrote when Obama was at the end of his presidency that asks our politicians, policy makers and media to develop a nuanced concern regarding our mental health: When we advocate for increased access to mental health care, we need to also consider the quality and kind of mental health care that actually helps us transform. This blog was written before Trump and COVID, so even more relevant today in my opinion. Perhaps when you are in the Whitehouse, you can hire me and my colleagues to collectively lead your newly formed Department of Mental and Cultural Wellness so that we can not only work to transform the way our corporations, media, politicians and elections operate, but also transform how we practice mental health, wellness and how we live and build community together.

Our nation is mentally ill … we need a new conversation on mental health folks!

Mass shootings, daily unnoticed violence everywhere, un-neighborly neighborhoods, poor health delivered by the most expensive health care system in the world, the divide between the haves and have nots expanding, and so on…

We are in dire need of new conversations and new solutions.

I am a psychotherapist who is part of a community of therapists, clients, activists who are committed to offering high quality, humane therapy services for all.

We are Social Therapists. We create therapeutic communities for emotional and social growth.

The conventional conversations we hear in the institutional halls of mainstream psychology and mental health treatment centers do not sufficiently explore traditional assumptions of what mental health is and how to treat it. The norm has been to place emphasis on the individual who “has something inside that is wrong,” and to underemphasize the fact that individual people are a part of a social fabric in a world that is not well.

Typical conversations we hear in the media on mental health tend to focus on ensuring greater access to services, without sufficiently attending to the quality and kind of care people might receive once access is improved.

Social therapists do not view mental health as a medical dilemma, but rather, as a cultural, social, and developmental task of supporting people to grow emotionally and relationally. We take the “do not stigmatize / do no harm” posture very seriously, and will not relate to other humans as broken, or label them as mentally ill. We reject the conventional medical model Doctor/Patient hierarchy. We also reject diagnostics, and the goal of getting “maladjusted” people to “adjust.” Interestingly, this creates space for both client and therapist to partner together in shaping the help clients need and want. This approach helps clients develop as leaders and creators of their lives.

The devastation of poverty, discrimination, stigmatization, and marginalization of people who are struggling in a world that is not well is of great concern to the Social Therapy community. We practice a group therapy approach where clients are helped by partnering with one another, and with the therapist, to develop emotionally. Clients are active participants of the therapy, and are supported to be builders of their lives. In this way, we differ from conventional therapies, have a different approach to the whole concept of what mental health is, and how to develop health in our world.

You can’t solve problems using the same tools that helped to create them. Question the status quo. Ask new questions. Do something new with others. Our nation…our communities need our help.

Jennifer Bullock is the Director of Independent Pennsylvanians, which is a proud founding member of the PA Open Primaries Coalition. She is a social therapist practicing in Philadelphia.


Join us Wednesday, January 12th
at 3pm EDT
For a Virtual Discussion
With Forward Author Andrew Yang
Sponsored by Politics for the People and Open Primaries


Founder of the Politics for the People free educational series and book club for independent voters. Chair of the New York County Independence Party.

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