picture of a sun, Lilly Pulitzer sunshine spotlight
Thea Gallagher smiling with her family

Meet Thea Gallagher, PsyD

A nationally recognized psychologist and anxiety specialist, Dr. Gallagher is an assistant professor and digital mental health, outcomes, and wellness coordinator in the Department of Psychiatry at NYU Langone Health. She specializes in prolonged exposure therapy for post-traumatic stress disorder, exposure and response prevention for obsessive compulsive disorder, and cognitive-behavioral treatments for other mental health illnesses. She is regularly featured in national media outlets and hosts a mental health-focused podcast, Mind in View.

Sunshine Spotlight

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How does wearing Lilly Pulitzer make you feel?

How do you say…the BEST! Bright colors and fun patterns put me in a good mood and it’s so fun to both receive compliments and brighten up a person’s day, especially as their therapist. I remember putting on my first Lilly dress around 15 years ago and thinking about how great I felt. Feminine, fun, free—it had lemons and limes on it and a cutout back!

What does Be the Sunshine mean to you?

I’ve always had an optimistic outlook, so I try to bring that positivity into my life and the lives of my patients in a real way. Life is not always happy or positive, but I know that even when things are their hardest, we all have a ray of sunshine inside of us, no matter how dim. It’s important to remember that because we need hope to survive, thrive, and ultimately flourish. It’s not about platitudes or toxic positivity, but about true, real, inner hope. When I work with patients who are struggling with depression, I encourage them to think about a few things they are grateful for each day. Sunshine is a fan favorite!

Is there a message or mantra that inspires you as a mother?

Care less! But truly, care less about the opinions of others, care less about comparing yourself to another mom, and care less about being perfect (so hard for many of us women). Being a mom is first and foremost about being YOU and then a mom. Let your personality shine through in your motherhood. Your kids love YOU for YOU.

What values do you hope to pass to your children?

To believe the best in people.
To be kind and generous in all ways.
To stand up for yourself when you need to.
To fight for what you believe is right.
To remember it’s ok to make mistakes, that’s how we learn.
To practice self-compassion.
To follow your intuition.
And to remember, life is short, it’s for living.

As a working mom, how do you take a “mom-ent” for yourself?

I try to prioritize what I need and not sacrifice it out of mom-guilt. For me, for example, getting my nails done is a need, so I make it happen. Be honest with what you need and what helps you to feel good; don’t sacrifice your self-care even when you feel that mom-guilt creeping up. Giving to yourself ultimately gives to your kids, because you are a happier, healthier you!

May isn't just the month for celebrating moms—it’s also Mental Health Awareness Month. How can busy moms prioritize their mental health?

Therapy! No excuses. Also, intentional self-care and time with other women who love and support you.

Can you share some resources for mothers seeking mental health support?

So many media outlets have mental health-related stories (I do like 3 a week!). Check out Well+Good, Shape, Health, Healthline, Yahoo!, Huffpost, Parade, etc. There are also lots of great therapists on IG, like yours truly! You can find me at @theagallagherpsyd. For more formal resources, consider: NAMI, NIH, SAMSHA, and Psychology Today.

How can family members and friends support the moms in their lives?

Ask them how they are, ask them what they need, and ask how you can support them. Also doing for them—things like providing a meal, watching their kids, kicking them out of their homes to get their nails done, shop, go for a walk, etc. And obviously buy them Lilly!