Reflections on the Joker’s Popularity and What America Can Learn From Gotham City’s Mental Health System: An Interview With Micah Howe

September 11, 2020

In the latest episode of The Optimistic Advocate, I had the honor of engaging in conversation with Micah Howe, a dedicated mental health advocate from rural Iowa. Micah candidly shared his journey through mental health treatment and support, and his evolution as an advocate. Micah was scheduled to speak at the 33rd Annual Research and Policy Conference, scheduled for March 2020. COVID-19 put a halt to the conference, but I knew I wanted to have the opportunity to speak with him.

The title of his presentation and description read as follows:

The Iconic Clown: Reflections on the Joker’s Popularity as the Personification of Mental Illness and What America Can Learn From Gotham City’s Mental Health System
The Joker has become a hot-button character in the last few years as it relates to mental illness and mass violence. But why? What is it about this villain that has garnered so much attention, and what might the Batman series teach us about psychosocial and political solutions to problems of behavioral health in society?

With a title and description like that, I knew I needed to speak to him!

Enjoy the interview. Micah provides some great tips for those with mental illness, their families, and loved ones. Micah is a strong advocate and a rising voice for those with lived experience.

Resources related to this episode:

The International OCD Foundation –

The National Alliance on Mental Illness –

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About the Author

Scott Bryant-Comstock

Hello, I’m Scott Bryant-Comstock, CEO and founder of the Children’s Mental Health Network. For the past 40 years, my journey as a mental health advocate has traveled from volunteering at a suicide and crisis center, professional roles as a therapist in an outpatient clinic, in-home family therapist, state mental health official, Board Chair for a county mental health program, and national reviewer of children’s mental health systems reform efforts. As the founder of the Children’s Mental Health Network, I lead the Network’s efforts to grow a national online forum to exchange ideas on how to improve children’s mental health research, policy, and practice.

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