Mental Health + Activism + ALS Awareness 

Written by Kari Havenaar, MA and Anna Dusbiber LWSW 



Mental health is important for any community as it is both stigmatized and society places invisible constraints and barriers on what mental health means. We encourage you to reflect and come up with your own definition of Mental Health. Everyone defines mental health differently based on their everyday life experiences.  

Mental health is/can be considered a disability, and it’s not exclusive to only chronic disability. Mental health can range from engaging in self-care to accessing therapeutic services or mental health treatment plans. Everyone engages with mental health in some capacity. A common theme many people can relate to is that society teaches us to not want to identify with a disability because it is not a “positive” thing, however there is no shame in having a disability and relating that to your human experience. 

Linda Kurtz.

Image Description: Linda Kurtz has short voluminous ashy blonde hair and is wearing a black long sleeve turtleneck sweater. She is leaning toward her right side and rests her head on her hand touching her face. Her chin is toward the left side of her body and head on the right. The photograph background is gray-black.

Linda Kurtz is a Washtenaw County activist, social worker, and former Eastern Michigan University professor who has impacted local community wide mental health. Kurtz’s focus was primarily academic; however, her focus was on helping individuals with disabilities. She impacted the community by supporting individuals and families that are impacted by addiction. Kurtz published many works in self-help, recovery, the 12-step AA process, and support groups. The impact of Kurtz’s work has shaped how people with disabilities receive and benefit from services, and how mental health can be incorporated.



Stephen Hawking is a world-renowned scientist known for his contributions to astronomy, cosmology, and more. Hawking’s disability experience came with limitations on what, as a scientist, he could do. Here is a direct quote about his disability and life experiences.  

“In 1969, during a trip to the USA, Stephen observed Joseph Weber’s early and rudimentary experiments for detecting gravitational waves. Stephen would have loved to conduct his own experiments in this new and exciting scientific area but understood that his disability was a

Stephen Hawking.

Image Description: Stephen Hawking is floating in a zero-gravity environment wearing a navy-blue space suit. His body is almost sideways and is at a sight angle downward to the left. His feet are to the left side and head is on the right side.

barrier in that era. As ever, Stephen made an advantage out of what other people would perceive as a setback, arguing that a theorist can conclude an argument in an afternoon: an experiment can take years. “I was glad I remained a theorist”, he admitted afterwards.”  

The theorist authored a collection of works of his scientific discoveries, ranging from black holes, big bang, universal expansion and together navigating where the planet and universe is going next. On Hawkings’ website, there are many published academic articles and books to explore. One series was created with Hawking and his daughter, Lucy.

Stephen Hawking.

Image Description: Stephen Hawking is in his chair in a formal suit. The background is composed of equations and math written on a chalkboard. The image in grey, black and white.

Materials and Descriptions about Linda Kurtz were made possible because of Eastern Michigan Universities Archival Collection containing all her papers, academic works, and notes. To learn more about this collection and or to reference the collection please contact Eastern Michigan University Archives via email or phone 734-487-2673.  





Resources to learn more information about ALS, and Mental Health:
Stephen Hawking Estate
Dedicated to Finding a Cure for ALS | The ALS Association
Homepage | ALS Network
Team Gleason – Steve Gleason – ALS
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) – Diseases | Muscular Dystrophy Association (
Organizations that Support ALS Patients and Caregivers (
988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline – Call. Text. Chat. (
Mental Health Facilities in Michigan | Inpatient & Residential Treatment (
NAMI Michigan | Michigan’s Voice on Mental Illness
Local Mental Health Services (
Helpful Resources | Promoting quality mental health resources, advocacy and education. | Mental Health Association in Michigan ( 

Linda Kurtz-Eastern Michigan University Archival Collection
Collection: Linda Kurtz collection | Eastern Michigan University Archives (
Eastern Michigan University Archives | Eastern Michigan University Research | DigitalCommons@EMU (