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

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.

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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.

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Creating a Life Changing Connection

Audience: Parents, Teachers, or Caring Adults

Ross was a teenager who appeared to have everything going for him on the outside. He was a class president, varsity basketball player, and volunteered to help others. On this 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.

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“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 More Reviews
Ross' Story

FREE Chapter of "Behind Happy Faces"

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Brandon Spinazzola

Brandon Spinazzola
Live Events Coordinator
(800) 799-1460

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