Mel Robbins

Photo courtesy of the Rush University Medical Center Woman’s Board.

Procrastinating? Have a fear of failure? Doubting your potential? CNN commentator and best-selling author Mel Robbins can teach you how to get out of a rut and accomplish important goals faster. Her 5 Second Rule is a simple technique that can help anyone get unstuck and transform their life with just one decision.

Whip-smart, articulate, passionate and determined, Robbins proves the old adage that a person grows the most from their hardest times. Thanks to the Rush University Medical Center Woman’s Board, you can experience Robbins in person at the 23rd annual Spring Luncheon on May 11, 2017, at the Chicago Hilton.

In a recent phone interview, Robbins described her personal journey behind the 5 Second Rule discovery. Desperately needing something to kick herself out of a despairing thought cycle, the result of severe post-partum depression and family financial struggles, she developed the Rule. It works like this: The moment she thinks of something she should do, Robbins counts backward from five and forces herself to physically move. It can be a simple action, but it is action.

She offers an example. “Get out of bed and help get your kids off to school. Five, four, three, two, one, go.”

When Robbins started researching why the Rule worked so well, she came upon several studies in human behavior and neuroscience that helped her understand the importance of physical movement in order to “activate your brain’s prefrontal cortex and change bad thought habits.” Harvard Medical School Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry John J. Ratey, MD, proved to be particularly helpful too.

The Rule Grows Around the World

Robbins eventually realized that everyone could be only one decision and five seconds away from transforming their lives for the better. So six years ago, she shared her insights in this TedX talk, entitled “How To Stop Screwing Yourself Over.” It has now been viewed more than 8 million times.

The Rule has broad application. It is a tool to develop more positive thought patterns that will help anyone overcome fear of failure, patterns of procrastination, or self-doubt. Soon Robbins heard from people around the world and corporations started hiring her to help their employees become more efficient and successful too.

But, it was Robbins’ then 10-year-old son’s experience with an ADD and anxiety diagnosis that really pushed her into overdrive trying to spread the good word widely and help the most people possible.

“No wonder he wasn’t playing sports!” Robbins quips, then laments, “Those undiagnosed kids don’t have a chance — at developing self-esteem, the capacity to build relationships, success at school.”

Thanks to her social media networks, Robbins has now heard that the Rule has helped “from over 100,000 people in more than 90 countries.” This led to the recent, innovative and immediately best-selling publication of her newest book, “The 5 Second Rule: Transform your Life, Work, and Confidence with Everyday Courage.”

This also contributes to Robbins’ passion for increasing mental health support and services for ALL children. “If it’s this hard for my kid in his school district — the best in the state of Massachusetts — it breaks my heart to think about what it is like for those growing up in the inner city dealing with guns, violence and many other wrenching issues! They have far fewer resources to help.”

Robbins’ personal experience with mental illness, her research, and her 5 Second Rule fueled her determination to help break the stigma around asking for help with mental health issues and to grow more support for youth programs that screen, diagnose and treat mental health issues. As she does in this video about depression and personal struggle, Robbins speaks from the heart and with the candor you expect during a kitchen table conversation:

“It’s not surprising in today’s news cycle and with our country’s current political culture that anxiety is up and there are more mental health needs for kids then ever across all communities,” Robbins explains.

“Not only is it important to remove the stigma around mental health issues, we must make services easier for all to get,” Robbins says.

Just like Mel, Chance the Rapper is also using his fame as a platform to speak out on both youth mental illness and education in Chicago Public Schools.

The Rush Program

By speaking at the Rush University Medical Center Spring Luncheon on May 11, 2017, Robbins is helping The Woman’s Board of Rush raise funds to support the development of new mental health programming that specifically targets the growing number of mental health cases being seen in many of Chicago’s most underserved west-side neighborhoods.

A recent community health assessment of several West Side neighborhoods concluded that families and children in these communities suffer from exceptionally high rates of trauma-related disorders such as depression and anxiety, as well as high rates of unemployment, poverty and substance abuse. Since 2010, Rush teams at three school-based health centers (SBHCs), operated by Rush teams within Chicago Public Schools, have identified an unprecedented 400 percent increase in mental health issues requiring treatment among the youth in these communities.

Further supporting this troubling trend, data from the Kids’ Inpatient Database, a collection of data from children’s hospitals across the state, show that while diagnoses from other childhood diseases are falling or steady, diagnoses of mental health cases are skyrocketing.

Lurie Hospitalizations Chart

Image courtesy of Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago.

The new programming, part of a city-wide, collaborative effort led by Rush to improve the overall well-being of residents in Chicago’s underserved West Side neighborhoods, will be offered through existing school based health clinics (SBHC’s) run by Rush in three Chicago Public Schools on the West Side. These schools — Orr Academy High School, Richard T. Crane Medical Preparatory High School and Simpson Academy for Young Women — already act as a safety net by filling gaps in preventive and primary health care for students, parents, and the surrounding community, making these centers an optimal vehicle for initiating this program.

The programs will provide comprehensive screening and treatment that specifically recognizes and responds to the mental health impact of the challenges these children and families are exposed to on a daily basis. It will also provide community-based training for family members, front-line community members, and first responders to help improve the disparity in access to mental health services in these neighborhoods. Best of all, because these three clinics already have proven their success working with this underserved population, donors should feel assured that funds will be efficiently and effectively used.

Robbins: An Inspiring Role Model and Social Entrepreneur

Robbins describes herself as a “Midwestern girl at heart.” After growing up in Muskegon, Michigan, and graduating from Dartmouth College, she moved to Boston for law school and stayed for work, marriage and family (she is the mother of two sons). She describes her anxiety, depression, and overall struggles eight years ago as the “the lowest moment in my life.”

Kudos to Robbins for her honesty, creativity and impact, but also for building a highly successful career around making a difference too. She is a true social entrepreneur — making life better for herself and others while growing a good business.


Make It Better is proud to be the media sponsor of the Rush University Medical Center Woman’s Board Spring Luncheon and to support this important initiative to bring mental health care to our city’s most underserved neighborhoods. Together, we can make a difference and make it better for the kids who need it the most.

Tickets to hear Mel Robbins at the Spring Luncheon can be purchased at or by calling 312-942-6513.