C.R. preempts Richard to tell you about an amazing woman:

Nikol Hasler

No. Of course mental illness in families and/or children is not funny. It is pretty much totally taboo to poke fun at this topic. But is it possible that there is humor to be found? Video producer Nikol Hasler’s done just that.

This week, we got an email from Nikol who’s a producer for the non-profit One Economy Corporation. She herself  has been through the foster care system, and has a family history of both mental illness and abuse. She knows her stuff.

Nikol had the strength and insight to take aforementioned “stuff” and reach out to others in analogous situations. Her programs are designed to help low-income families cope with everything from unemployment and housing issues to substance abuse and bullying. She especially excels at parenting issues (which really include all the above issues and a whole lot more).

Her screen presence is utterly professional (she’s got loads of charisma), and her scripts are sharp and boundary-shifting. On one of her shows, Real American Family titles like “We’re Getting A Divorce” combine edgy humor with practical advice.

Nikol contacted us about contributing to her network, but when we saw her video, Mental Illness and Children, we knew we had to tell PsychCentral’s readers about her.

“Mental Illness and Children” is not what you’d expect from something with such a dry, dot-gov type name. Nikol’s video actually takes a painful subject, turns it on its head, and helps viewers (especially parents struggling with mental illness in their families) blow off a little steam. I don’t want to tell you what’s in it (the suprise-factor is really part of the effect) but suffice it to say, this video is totally politically incorrect. I mean really.

Do people actually like it?  I nervously showed it to a friend whose son has a mental illness and she watched it three times in a row, laughing out loud. She assured me that she hasn’t laughed this much since her son was diagnosed. And the comments section on Nikol’s site says it all. Parents of kids with mental illness really connect with this program.

When I first watched the video, I admit I was a teeny bit shocked. But half way through I realized that Nikol’s done something has rarely been done as effectively. In fact, except for PsychCentral funnyman, cartoonist and blogger Chato B. Stewart, I’ve never seen anyone really, truly knock the stigma out of mental illness with (totally off the wall) humor.

So check it out. And let Nikol know what you think.

Nikol Hasler is a producer for the One Economy Corporation where she creates online media for www.pic.tv , www.thebeehive.org , and www.justthink.org. She is also the mother of three sons, a love and relationship advice columnist for Milwaukee Magazine, and the author of the book Sex: A Book For Teens, which sports an endorsement from Dr. Jocelyn Elders. Her background in the foster care system, and family history of abuse and mental illness have been the impetus for the work she does today. Her personal mission is to use the wisdom of all things, light and dark, in her experiences and offer those things to the world openly through creative outlets.