Sally Spencer-Thomas

Sally Spencer-Thomas

Sally Spencer-Thomas is a clinical psychologist, inspirational international speaker and impact entrepreneur. Dr. Spencer-Thomas was moved to work in suicide prevention after her younger brother, a Denver entrepreneur, died of suicide after a dbattle with bipolar condition. Known nationally and internationally as an innovator in social change, Spencer-Thomas has helped start multiple large-scale, gap-filling efforts in mental health, including the award-winning campaign Man Therapy and the nation’s first initiative for suicide prevention in the workplace, Working Minds.

She is best known for her work in championing a “Zero Suicide Mindset” in industry. Over the last few years she has keynoted at the Australian MATES in Construction’s Annual Mental Health Conference, presented on behalf of and advised CFMA’s Construction Industry Alliance for Suicide Prevention, and facilitated national and regional presentations for the SMART/SMACNA Member Assistance Program, among many other industry engagements. In 2016 she gratefully accepted IRMI’s Horizon Award on behalf of the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention’s Workplace Task Force, which she chairs.

Spencer-Thomas has also held leadership positions for the International Association for Suicide Prevention, the American Association for Suicidology and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. She has won multiple awards for her advocacy, including the 2014 Survivor of the Year from the American Association of Suicidology, the 2014 Invisible Disabilities Association Impact Honors Award, the 2012 Alumni Master Scholar from the University of Denver, the 2015 Farbarow Award from the International Association for Suicide Prevention and the 2016 Career Achievement Alumni Award from the University of Denver’s Graduate School of Professional Psychology.

In 2016 she was an invited speaker at the White House, where she presented on men’s mental health. In her recent TEDx Talk she shares her goal to elevate the conversation to make mental health promotion and suicide prevention a health and safety priority in our schools, workplaces and communities.

She has a doctorate in clinical psychology from the University of Denver, masters in nonprofit management from Regis University and a bachelors in psychology and studio art with a minor in economics from Bowdoin College. She has written four books on mental health and violence prevention.

Recent Articles by Sally Spencer-Thomas

15 Keys to Mental Health Safety Net

Acknowledgment: Thank you, Dr. Jodi Frey and Jon Kinning, for assisting in the preparation of this article. The employee assistance program (EAP) might be one of the best-kept secrets for many employers. Instead, EAPs should be resources widely publicized to help encourage managers, employees and often their family members so that support services for personal and […]

Language and Mental Health (Part 3)

[The other three parts of this series can be found here and here.] “Power is the ability to define reality and to have other people respond to your definition as if it were their own.” – Wade Nobles “Words are powerful. Old and inaccurate descriptors, and the inappropriate use of these descriptors, perpetuate negative stereotypes and reinforce […]

Language and Mental Health

“Commit suicide,” “successful suicide,” “the mentally ill,” “suffering from a mental illness” —These phrases rattle off the tongue, yet we, as social justice advocates, find they rattle our souls as people continue to use them in well-meaning workplace education programs and community discussions. Let us explain… In 1984, George Orwell said, “If thought corrupts language, […]

How to Help Veterans on Mental Health

The constant beat of the major media drum often paints a grim picture of veterans and suicide. Sometimes, we wonder if these messages become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Consistent headlines include data such as: Approximately 22 veterans die by suicide each day (about one every 65 minutes). In 2012, suicide deaths outpaced combat deaths, with 349 […]

A Call to Action on Mental Health

The 6th US/Canada Forum on Workplace, Mental Health and Productivity, held in Denver, produced a call to action on how employers can make suicide prevention a health and safety priority. Almost 70 CEOs and community influencers participated in the five-hour forum, including senior representatives from RK Mechanical, the U.S. Postal Service, Wells Fargo, Bank of […]

Stand Up for Robin Williams. . .

On Monday, Aug. 11, 2014, we lost Robin Williams. He was a brilliant actor and comic…a man most of us grew up with. We knew him as a funny guy, an alien, a genie, a nanny, an inspirational teacher and so much more. We also knew he struggled with depression, addiction and possibly bipolar disorder. […]

Preventing Suicide in Working-Age Men

Around the world, men of working age carry the burden of suicide. In the U.S., suicide is the second leading cause of death for men ages 25-54. Men take their own lives at four times the rate of women. Because just about all of these men are working, were recently working or have family members […]

Five Things Employers Need to Know About Mental Health

“The workplace is the last crucible of sustained human contact for many of the 30,000 people who kill themselves each year in the United States. A coworker’s suicide has a deep, disturbing impact on work mates. For managers, such tragedies pose challenges no one covered in management school.” (Shellenbarger, 2001)1 Five things employers need to […]

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