Mental Health & Building for the Future

As each new year begins, it’s always a challenging time. We go from the highs of holiday parties and time with our family and friends, to the lows of new year’s resolutions and getting back into our routines. I shared some of my struggles and post-holiday blues over Tik Tok recently, and I thought it would be good to share with all of you.

I’m looking down at lake Michigan today in the beautiful sun and it’s frozen on the top, but there’s so much going on underneath Sometimes we’re trying to make it look as if we’ve got it all under control when we know deep down, we don’t. A lot of us are starting the year off like that, just trying to keep it together.

There’s another reason I came down to the lake today. Most of the people that I’ve lost in my life passed away at the beginning of the year. So it’s always a tough time for me as I remember them and think about my own mortality and that I’m glad that I get to see another year. One person who was especially difficult to lose was my uncle. He passed away when he was 29. I was only eight and it left a mark, not just on me, but on the entire family.

He was in Santa Cruz watching the surfers and it was a super high tide. He and the people with him got pulled down by a wave. It was sudden. It was tragic. It was something we never expected. He certainly didn’t: he was just trying to enjoy some time with his friends.

I think about that sometimes: how he passed doing something that he loved. He was outside with friends, having a good time. And although he was gone way too soon, he made a mark. And I think about that every time I want to make a mark on this place and on the people here. That it’s about living life, and it’s about doing all you can do no matter what the risks are. Sometimes it’s worth it to just make someone else smile. So here’s to you, Jay, I miss you.

There are some very serious signs that our current emotional and mental state is more than just “tired of the pandemic.” We are maxed out with stress. We are scared for the future and we’re anxious about today and we can’t find help.

I know, because I’ve been feeling the same way. I called my local health center to see about getting a therapy appointment. Do you know what they told me? “We’re not taking any new patients for three to four months. Call back in May.” May?!, are you kidding me? If people are hurting and in need of help, they can’t wait four months.

By the time a person in need calls for an appointment, they have already waited more than four months to get the courage up to make the call. The health care system, and the people working in it, are over-tasked. I’ve heard it from family, friends, and associates who work in this industry.

When I went to my pharmacy to get my COVID booster shot, the pharmacist looked tired, angry, and like she could crack it any minute.

So, before she stuck me with the vaccine needle, I decided to ask her, “How are you doing?” She almost fell apart as she registered the question. “I’m exhausted, we can’t take days off, even when we are sick. We’re all working six days a week, and there isn’t enough downtime to recover from the stresses. I don’t know when this will end.” I told her I was sorry and I thanked her for being here. I tried to give her some hope that her amazing effort over the past two years was worth it. And I tried to seem positive that I believed the words I was saying. I saw a calm come over her and she relaxed just a little bit.

I may have just been a small blip in her day, but I hoped I had made a difference.

I’ve seen the overwhelming need for young people to have someone to lean on, someone to talk to about what they are experiencing. Although I’m not a licensed therapist, I can empathize with their struggles. I want to provide resources for those who need more acute care. I’m saddened by the increased rate of suicides on college campuses.

It is a painful experience for the students and those who are left behind. Loss like that at such an early stage of life means we aren’t doing enough to help these young people through their challenges. We want people to know about resources like the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. It is available 24 hours a day at 1–800–273–8255.

A key piece of this puzzle is our first-generation college students. In a recent study, it was found that the chances of making it from poverty to affluence is only about 7.5% in the U S, versus 13.5% in Canada and other developed nations. Gen Z is now our most diverse generation ever, with half identifying as multiracial. Soon, Latinx teens will become more than half of this group. Many are first-generation college students. What are we going to do to address this dramatic shift in the population and its unique needs? Only 11% of first-generation college students are graduating. While those that are able to complete their degree are taking an average of 6 years as they split their time between school, working, and supporting themselves and their families. To meet the needs of this generation, we need not only to help the students, but help the families and the community as well.

Oftentimes there is a mistrust of higher learning that the community doesn’t understand. I’ve seen jealousy as the kid is starting to have a better life than the parents. It’s tough when pride and ego get too much in the way of supporting each other to allow understanding that when their child wins, the community wins too.

We need to help the parents celebrate the achievement, understand the sacrifices and struggles the students are undertaking to pursue their degree, and close financial gaps that help students who work and have to split their focus time too much to get a degree in a timely manner. There is also important life wisdom that parents can share, even without that paper degree.

To be successful in this world, we need soft skills and the ability to connect with people as much, if not more than we need the hard skills of knowing how to code or make fancy Excel models.

I hope you enjoy this blog as much as we enjoy making it. For video outtakes of the podcast, don’t forget to catch us on Tik Tok at NikkiGreen678. The full-length shows are available wherever you listen to podcasts. And if you’d like to see the video, not only are we on Spotify in the new beta video platform, but we also have Nikki’s YouTube channel and links to all of our social media, including information about our guests in our show notes. You can always catch us at www.thenikkigreen.com/podcast.

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Compelling future leaders to find strength in their uniqueness. Teaching when to listen & learn and when to stand out & speak up.

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Nikki Green

Nikki Green

Compelling future leaders to find strength in their uniqueness. Teaching when to listen & learn and when to stand out & speak up.

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