An Honest, Humorous, and Evidence-Based Approach to Mental Health
- Health & Wellness
- Mental Health
- Professional Development
- Grade 6-12 Students
- College Students
- Educators & Staff
Fee Range: $8K-11KInvite Ross
• Wellness Director; The Geffen Academy at UCLA
• Removing The Stigma Leadership Award Winner
• Author of “A Kids Book About Anxiety”
When Ross was a freshman in college, everything on the surface seemed to be fine. He was making friends, getting good grades, and had a fun social life. However, no one could have imagined how many emotions he was suppressing. Ross was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at age 16, was hospitalized for attempting to take his own life during his senior year of high school. He tried to hide what he was feeling to convince everyone that everything was ok, but that can only last for so long. Ross’s story resonates with the millions of college students who are putting on a happy face to hide their true emotions.
Ross uses tasteful humor and insights to help participants understand common mental health conditions and individual differences. He also covers warning signs that students can look for in their friends and peers, as well as resources that can provide guidance in these sensitive situations.
Ross is NOW the CEO of the Human Power Project. He is an award-winning mental health speaker, writer, trainer, and Returned Peace Corps Volunteer. Ross has spoken to more than 1 million students about the importance of mental health and provided a positive example to empower them to seek help. He received the 2010 Didi Hirsch Removing the Stigma Leadership Award, 2012 Changing Minds Award and had his advocacy work entered into the Congressional Record. He is the co-author of Behind Happy Faces; Taking Charge of Your Mental Health and a blogger for The Huffington Post.
From the outside, Ross Szabo seemed to have a perfect life. He was successful, well-liked and a leader in his community. Underneath his easy-going appearance, he was hiding an immense amount of pain.
Ross’s presentation traces how mental health disorders and trauma can impact a person from a young age and the consequences those issues have throughout every phase of life. He talks about being born into a family with a history of mental health disorders/addiction, being diagnosed with bipolar disorder when he was 16, and attempting to take his own life in his senior year of high school.
Ross’s struggles continued into his 20’s and the damage experienced during that time is something he is still processing today. During his most difficult times, he tried to hide what he was feeling to convince everyone that everything was ok, but that can only last for so long. Ross’s story resonates with the millions of people who are putting on a happy face to hide their true emotions.
Mental health challenges are one of the largest problems facing our society. Twenty to twenty-five percent of people experience a mental health disorder each year. Suicide is a leading cause of death. Outside of diagnosable disorders people are dealing with a lack of sleep, stress, and substance abuse.
During these difficult times, it is imperative for people to express what they are going through, know that they are not alone, and feel comfortable while seeking help. It is ok to not be ok.
Ross uses tasteful humor and insights to help participants understand common mental health conditions and individual differences. His presentation teaches a clear definition of mental health, a new vocabulary to help people talk about mental health the same way they talk about physical health, an emphasis on using good stress in your life, and how to develop effective coping mechanisms. He uses his personal story to help people think about the choices that they are making in their lives. Most importantly, he empowers people to take action to take charge of their mental health.
- Be able to define mental health as how we address and balance all of the challenges in our lives.
- Discuss the largest barriers preventing people from seeking help for their mental health.
- Recognize the different mental health challenges students are experiencing.
- Lessen the stigma surrounding mental health by hearing a first hand account of a person who is functioning well despite having a diagnosed mental health disorder.
- Identify the steps that are necessary to change ineffective coping mechanisms.
How many times have you seen a friend openly discuss all of their emotions while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and never talk about it again?
Sometimes they forget what they have said. Other times they are too afraid to deal with it. A lot of times people are more comfortable addressing their emotions while they are inebriated. Self-medication has been one-way college students have coped with difficult situations for many years, but it doesn’t have to continue.
Forty-eight percent of young people with a substance use disorder have a co-occurring mental health issue. It is important to address the reasons why students may be binge-drinking, abusing substances, driving under the influence, and engaging in negative behavior. The average college student today is facing overwhelming amounts of stress, workloads, transition, pressure, and mental health problems. Often times they suffer in silence, hiding their fears until they become too large to deal with. This program addresses the ties between substance abuse and mental health.
The goals are to break down the stereotypes surrounding the expression of emotion in order to help young people function at their highest level and teach students effective coping mechanisms.
- Discuss the reasons that young people abuse substances.
- Recognize the role that self-medication with alcohol and drugs can play in a teen’s life.
- Identify depression and anxiety as the most common co-occurring mental health disorders with substance use issues.
- Name the steps to create effective coping strategies.
Mental Health Starts With Me: Practical Tools to Take Care of Yourself and Help Students
Ross was a teenager who appeared to have everything going for him on the outside. He was a class president, a varsity basketball player, and volunteered to help others. On the inside, he hid crippling bouts of depression and bipolar disorder that led to him attempting to take his own life when he was a senior in high school. He struggled alone until adults were able to connect with him.
Ross turned his experiences as a teen into an opportunity to educate others. He created the first public health approach to addressing mental health education in schools. He developed a mental health curriculum that is used internationally. Now, he’s a founding faculty member of a middle school/high school that is focused on integrating wellness education into every classroom. This program gives a powerful exploration of what it’s like to be a teen who is burying their problems and a teacher who is designing evidence-based programs to improve mental health in order to reach the teens who need it the most.
- Discuss the barriers that often prevent young people from addressing their emotions.
- Describe the development of emotional regulation in teens.
- Explain steps an adult can take to help a young person with their mental health.
- Apply one’s own story as a strength in normalizing mental health for others.
“This was one of the most impactful programs we have brought over the years. His balance of humor and seriousness was really great. He had the students laughing and connecting with him but when he was talking about serious things, you could hear a pin drop in that room. It was pretty incredible. ”—Drexel University
“The program had a profound impact on the students and staff that attended. Issues surrounding Mental Health are everywhere on campus. It was great to try and bring those out into the open and have students learn to support each other…Ross has a way of speaking to you that makes you feel comfortable immediately…He was wonderful to work with- very friendly, outgoing, funny and kind. ”—Allegheny College
“Ross’s program was exactly what we were hoping to bring to campus. He was able to shed a light on mental health in a way that allowed students to open up about their own experiences with mental health, and we have already heard amazing testimony from students who have been inspired to seek treatment and to open up about their own mental health experiences. ”—Truman State University