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Self-Care for May 2019: Seeking Work-Life Balance

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“Happiness comes from living as you need to, as you want to. As your inner voice tells you to. Happiness comes from being who you actually are instead of who you think you are supposed to be.” —Shonda Rhimes

May is the official Mental Health Month, a time when we turn our focus to raising awareness around the mental health needs of every member of our society. Throughout the month, The Steve Fund community will be spreading the word about the importance of mental health so that this critical area becomes something everyone cares about.

To achieve the mental and emotional wellness we all deserve, we must start by tackling a trend in today’s world: the imbalance between personal life and work and school commitments. People who strike better balance between work and life report remarkable benefits. Surveys show that feeling engaged at work improves the likelihood of overall well-being. At the same time, having more control over your hours and schedule correlate to better mental and physical health (2016 study), as well as better job performance and greater satisfaction (2006 study).

At some point or another, most of us run the risk of letting work and school commitments take on too great a role in our lives, and suffer the consequences. Here are three things you can enact today to achieve more balance in your life.

Know your needs. Do an inventory of what you need to feel good both emotionally and physically. Write down what you come up with, and make an effort to prioritize at least one of those each week.

Establish a routine. Routines can change your life, especially your morning and nighttime habits. Start off with a morning meditation on what you want from the day. End it by taking account of where you went right and where you went wrong, appreciating the journey that brought you to the day’s end and forgiving yourself for what didn’t go as planned.

Hack your schedule. You are in control of how you spend your time, and on what, so take a close look at what you are spending your time on and change it. Research shows that people who plan their free time are happier and have an all-around better quality of life. Check out this TED Talk on time management to get inspired.

This month, as we raise the conversation about mental health, let’s not forget how important it is to take care of ourselves. Work-life equilibrium is a worthy goal to pursue to enhance well-being, so try small changes like the ones listed above. And, check out these tips from our partner, Mental Health America, for even more ways you can work toward greater balance.

Be well,


Anuja Khemka
Executive Director

The Steve Fund Supports CBC Task Force on Black Youth Suicide and Mental Health

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On the eve of Mental Health Awareness Month, the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) launched an Emergency Task Force on Black Youth Suicide and Mental Health to bring attention to the rising suicide rate among black children, “and to identify legislative recommendations to address this mental health crisis.” (Source: The Root)

Dr. Annelle Primm, Senior Medical Advisor, will represent the Steve Fund on a working group of experts and stakeholders to support this new task force.

The purpose of the group is to shed light on the mental health of black youth and related racial disparities. Ultimately, the group will contribute to the development of a report by the end of 2019 that will identify actionable steps and solutions for the community and for Congress, including potential legislative recommendations.

Given the Steve Fund’s focus on the mental health and well-being of students and young people of color, participation in the working group is an ideal opportunity for the Fund to contribute to national progress in addressing the needs of this demographic group.


 

According to a 2008 JAMA Pediatrics article on Black Boys and Suicide, suicide rates in the United States have traditionally been higher among white than black individuals across all age groups. However, in the last 25 years, suicide rates have increased among black children aged 5 to 11 years and decreased among white children of the same age.

“We can no longer stand aside and watch as the youth in our community continue to struggle with depression, traumatic stress, or anxiety. Far too often the pain that African Americans experience is either overlooked or dismissed,” Rep. Karen Bass, CBC Chair, said during the panel. “That has to end today.”

— Read more: The Root

CBC Press Release

Conference Highlights & Video Recap: Young, Gifted & Well at Harvard University

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The Steve Fund and Harvard University led participants in a day-long convening (4/16/19) with leading researchers, practitioners, administrators, faculty and students who came together to understand the mental and emotional health experiences of young people of color within Harvard University.  Follow the discussion online using #YoungGiftedWell2019 and #SteveFundHarvard.

We need to change some things institutionally, and in the name of Steve, we are going to do it.

Photos

Get Engaged & Follow the Discussion Online: #YoungGiftedWell2019 and #SteveFundHarvard

Self-Care for April 2019: Empowering Yourself Out Of Loneliness

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“The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.”
— Alice Walker

April marks the beginning of spring in the northern hemisphere. Temperatures begin to rise, and flowers and trees bloom along with refreshed perspectives. Despite the pleasant weather, many young people may be struggling with feelings of loneliness—dissatisfied by social networks and connections, the people we rely on, and even our sense of belonging (or lack thereof).

Young people, in particular, are far more likely to experience feelings of loneliness (BBC Loneliness Experiment). For young people of color, rates may be higher due to racial discrimination and cultural isolation on campuses, and exclusion in the workplace (2016 study). At the same time, loneliness is complex and carries health risks of depression (2017 study) and cardiovascular problems (2015 study).

If you’re feeling like you have no one to turn to at work, no one to talk to on campus, or simply lonely in what you’re experiencing right now, here are some tips to help you find your way:

Build Your Network. Look for groups of people with which you share an experience, for example, or a cultural connection. Professional associations, alumni, school and cultural groups, and networking events are all great options for connecting with others.

Connect Virtually. The virtual space provides a wide array of options to build relationships with individuals who may be going through the same challenges as you. Check out the virtual support system we built with 7cups.

Reach Out to a Mentor. During challenging, alienating, or new situations, mentors are great sources of strength. Be frank with them about any isolation you are experiencing so they can support you.

And, finally, don’t forget that The Steve Fund is here for you. We hope that these tips help you feel empowered to take on the second half of 2019 and achieve your goals.

Be well,


Anuja Khemka
Executive Director

New Resource! The Equity in Mental Health Framework Toolkit

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The Steve Fund, a nonprofit created to address the mental health needs of young people of color, and The Jed Foundation (JED), a nonprofit that exists to protect emotional health and prevent suicide for teens and young adults are pleased to announce the availability of a new resource that supports students of color— Equity in Mental Health Framework Toolkit.

The new Toolkit provides additional support in applying the recommendations in the EMH Framework that was launched just over a year ago. It includes implementation strategies to support campus-based efforts to reduce shame and prejudice around mental illness, increase responsiveness, improve campus climate, and provide system-wide opportunities to help all students thrive.

Additional support for these activities can be provided by JED and The Steve Fund.

We encourage your participation in this effort to reach and support students of color, and to help ensure that everyone has access to mental health resources. We hope the EMH Framework and Toolkit will help guide you in this important work.

Click here to download. 

3 Tips to Overcome Anxiety & Spring Forward

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A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Be brave.
—Lao Tzu
 
Beginning a new venture—whether it’s heading back to school or beginning a new career—often comes with mixed emotions. You might feel excited—and ready—to begin anew and to make new connections; while you might also feel anxious about encountering new and unfamiliar challenges. No matter what’s on your mind, you deserve a clean slate as you embark on change. It’s common for people to experience fears and anxieties, negative feelings and emotions, and to feel overwhelmed and stressed, but don’t fret, you can tackle these feelings head on. Here are three tips to help:
 
  • Take action. Stressful situations affect all of us from time to time, yet these challenges do not need to hold us back. Choose to start your new endeavor by bravely taking action and confronting stressors directly as they arise.

  • Find your unique strengths. Being conscious of who you are, being true to yourself, and acknowledging your assets and abilities takes a lot of the uncertainty out of life. Harness your own personal power to wrestle with whatever stressors are getting in the way of your progress.

  • Give yourself a thumbs-up daily. Deliberately choose to be brave in confronting challenges every day. Give yourself a mental thumbs-up every time you do!


And don’t forget, there are supports out there, ready to help you—the Steve Fund is one of them—if any of the challenges you are confronting seem too big to face alone.

We wish you a happy Spring 2019, and encourage you to get excited about setting some goals that matter to you. And don’t be surprised if you exceed your own expectations throughout the year!

Be well,

Anuja Khemka
Executive Director

Self-Care Blog Series: A version of this blog post originally appeared in our January 2019 newsletter edition.