“Today, you made history. Having just read through over 1,600 evaluations, I literally did not find a single negative comment or even a hint of criticism of your presentation. I have never seen this happen before. Not for Supreme Court Justices. Not for U.S. Surgeons Generals. Not for the panels of organ donors and recipients. No one. It’s one thing to be great at what you do for a living, and it’s another to be a true agent of change who can impact the lives of people in such an effective and meaningful way. I have seldom seen people do both as well as you.”
~Joe Drake, National Youth Leadership Forum
Ross Szabo is one of the most sought after mental health speakers in the country. His keynote presentations are perfect for normalizing the concept of mental health and empowering people to take charge of their lives.
Behind Happy Faces; Taking Charge of Your Mental Health
When Ross was in school, 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, and like so many other freshman, just wanted to fit in. 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 students who are putting on a happy face to hide their true emotions.
Mental health challenges are the largest problems facing schools today. Twenty to twenty-five percent of students experience a mental health disorder. Outside of diagnosable disorders students are dealing with lack of sleep, stress, and substance abuse. While 85% of schools have reported drastic increases in the amount of young people seeking mental health counseling, understanding and awareness about the issue are still lacking. During these difficult times, it is imperative for young people to express what they are going through, know that they are not alone, and feel comfortable while seeking help.
Ross teaches students about the complexities of mental health issues and empowers them to seek help or help their friends seek help. Most mental health challenges are highly treatable, but too often remain hidden in silence preventing people from achieving the recovery they are capable of.
The program focuses specifically on how students can achieve positive mental health by learning about their coping mechanisms. 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.
Mixed Drinks, Mixed Emotions; Substance Abuse and Mental Health
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 expression of emotion in order to help young people function at their highest level and teach students effective coping mechanisms.