While listening to relaxing music, the University of Illinois at Chicago, students read Self-Care cards listing coping resources such as listening to music, eating healthy, and making a gratitude list. Due to increasing rates of depression, anxiety, and suicide rates among young adults, mental health, particularly mental wellness, has been noted as something to be addressed, and #TheRightConversation creates a space for everyone to talk about it.
#TheRightCoversation is a quarterly panel event presented by Everyone Has a Story (EHAS), a nonprofit organization that promotes compassion for the stories of each individual through outreach, education, and assistance. JD DuBois, Founder of EHAS, states that “I’m trying to create a community, trying to be a resource for people to have an extension of themselves for support. Putting myself first in a position of vulnerability helps me do this because someone else can relate to it.”
Dr. Corey Yaeger, a licensed marriage and psychotherapist, began the evening by discussing the importance of men, particularly having a panel where most panelists are African American men, is important today. “One of the reasons that black men leave this earth earlier than others is because of that constant stress. The stress to be strong and to hold things in. We need to talk.”
During the discussion, the question of whether it is possible to both be strong and vulnerable at the same time was discussed. Christian Jones, NFL Player for the Detriot Lions, explained how he felt it was not only possible, but necessary. “ Yes, you can be vulnerable and be a warrior. Growing up, sports was always an outlet for what was going on at home. I wasn’t able to open up to others. I was raised in a family that didn’t open up,” Christian mentions. He also mentioned that getting support from his fiancé has helped him heal.
The panel also discussed how time alone could help people truly see themselves as well. Derrick Rose, NBA Player for the Detriot Pistons, explained how his journey to healing involved him being quiet. After discussing some of the difficult events of his life, he mentioned that “Being in that silent and calm place helped me grow as a person.”
Sometimes, with that silence, reflections can help us heal as well and become better prepared for challenges in the future. Adria Moses, Community Brand Manager, and Mindfulness Facilitator at Everyone Has a Story, suggests that “The greater the value of the resilience of our mental space, the better our lives can be. Go home and try to connect where there is a disconnect. If it’s of value, all you can do is try and be vulnerable.”
In addition to hearing the panelists’ stories, audience members were also allowed to ask questions and listen to panelists’ respond. Some common questions included how to make mental health a priority and what to do when one feels overwhelmed. Panelists discussed the importance of reaching out for additional support, as well as taking care of one’s self first, then helping others.
Dr. Yaeger ended the conversation by summarizing a few tips to aid in one’s mental wellness.
- You may not necessarily need a therapist, but find someone to talk to.
- Surround yourself with wise counsel
- Understand that healing does not happen overnight.
More information on Everyone Has A Story can be found at www.ehas.love.
Chante Gamby, Contributing Writer