ATEC - Episode 45: The Toll of Mental Illness and Finding A Path Forward ft. Debbie Lechtman

Episode 45: The Toll of Mental Illness and Finding A Path Forward featuring Debbie Lechtman

September is National Suicide Prevention Month and Debbie Lechtman, an Israeli and Costa Rican writer and jeweler based out of Los Angeles, is using her platform to bring awareness to mental health.


Debbie was always interested in jewelry but didn’t make it her full-time work until 2018 when she finally began to feel healthy again after her body had been weakened by gastroparesis. But as soon as she was regaining physical strength her lifelong battle with depression began to spiral out of control. For years she tried to keep her personal life out of her art but in early 2019, Debbie realized she couldn’t continue treating her mental health and her artistic life as two separate entities. 

She had grown up without mental health support or resources, without a family dialogue around mental illness, but as her jewelry business grew and her stress increased Debbie knew she had to confront her depression head-on. Now, she uses her social media platform to bring awareness to mental health and suicide prevention. In recent years she’s also incorporated her Jewish identity into her work and promotes Jewish education and the fight against antisemitism. 

For Debbie burying her background and her experience is no longer an option. On this episode she joins Ronit to talk about remaining true to herself and to her mission and how she will continue to shed light on mental health and Judaism and fight for what’s right.

Debbie Lechtman is an Israeli-Costa Rican writer and jeweler based out of Los Angeles. She started Roots Metals, her jewelry brand, in 2018, drawing inspiration from her eclectic cultural background. As her business grew, she started using her platform to speak out about her turbulent experience with the mental health system, as well as to provide education on antisemitism. In her spare time, Debbie enjoys rock climbing and hanging out with her two dogs, Simba and Wall-e.



I’m a writer, a teacher, a native New Yorker, and I love hearing about people’s lives. When I think back to my elementary school days at PS 20 in Flushing, Queens whenever we began social studies or a history lesson I wasn’t that interested in learning about battles, topography, or politics. What I wanted to know was how people lived: What their families were like, how they adapted to their circumstances, what they ate, how they celebrated, how they felt.
Sociology became my major at Binghamton University and in my life so far I’ve been an actress, a salesperson, a Zoo Keeper’s Aid, a volunteer animal trainer, an ELL teacher, a mother, and a wife. I’m grateful for the experiences I’ve had, all of which led me to create this podcast which is one of the most rewarding projects I’ve undertaken. I couldn’t ask for a better job than having in-depth conversations with survivors, thought leaders, authors, social justice warriors, and people who believe that we are all connected and then getting to share their stories, insight, and vulnerability with listeners.
I’m so glad you’ve landed on this page. I hope you find stories here which resonate with you and that you’ll tune in every week. 
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ATEC (Episode 10) (ATEC Pin 3)