I'm Ashley Perkins, I graduated from Butler University's College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences in 2008 with my Doctor of Pharmacy. After graduation I went on to be a community pharmacist for almost a decade of my career before deciding to take a fellowship in academia. This is when I started with the graduate program at Marshall University working toward my Doctor of Education with a focus in curriculum and instruction.
During this time I went through a profound experience which led me to becoming a mental health advocate. This not only changed my life in ways which are still difficult for me to explain and I am still learning how to navigate, its changed my career. Instead of allowing this to derail everything I have worked hard to accomplish in my life, I decided to use this to add to what I already do as a pharmacist and educator. This experience has helped me grow and it has led me to what I ultimately would like to achieve as a professional.
I began writing a book which led me into research the importance of language and how we as medical professionals have an impact on our patients simply by the language we choose to use. Language is a powerful tool and it can make or break the patient experience with any of us as health care workers. As someone who has been discriminated against for her mental health, I know all too well the power of language and this led me further into understanding how I as an educator could mold curriculum and instruction to help my students better understand their roles when interacting with patients.
My goal is to find ways to better educate our medical professionals while they are students, teaching them the proper language when it comes to the mental health community. This way we can minimize the use of stigmatizing language early on and have more medical professionals in the field using empathy with their patients.
I am also beyond fortunate to be a public speaker, someone who is able to openly share her story to help end stigma. I took a huge risk to my career when I started sharing to help others feel more heard and less alone but I knew if we wanted to see great change when it came to the stigma we see devastating so many people like we do, someone would have to do something big. This meant as a pharmacist, using my unique platform to openly show I too deal with this issues even though I seem functional on the outside. I navigate my life as best as I can while coping with my many mental disorder diagnoses. I chose this radical step because I wanted to try to make a difference and this was my way to try to change the stigma and stereotypes we see in society today. It's not easy for me to do but I saw it as a necessary thing to bring change.