The Importance of Mental Health Care for Young Entrepreneurs
Gen Z is poised to be one of the first generations in history to acknowledge and actively strive for better mental health. Yours is the generation most likely to be in therapy. (Though, certainly not the first generation to need therapy.) Although you seem to have a higher number of stressors that previous generations never could imagine, you’re far more open to talking about what’s bothering you, seeking help, and doing the work to make yourself feel better.
Still, sometimes mental health issues can creep up on you. Sometimes they start small, as minor irritations. Before you know it, you have a problem.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
There are “normal” amounts of stress, nervousness, and worry. Everyone gets a little nervous before taking a big test. Everyone has nights when they toss and turn and can’t get a wink of sleep. Everyone feels overwhelmed sometimes and needs to take a break.
There are also very real things to worry about. Don’t gaslight yourself – or let others gaslight you – by saying that your worries aren’t justified. It’s hard for anyone to ignore the world’s problems. We’re all affected by what goes on.
However, there are times when worry, stress, or anxiety start to take over your life. How do you know when the scales have tipped from relatively “normal” to concerning?
- You have difficulty sleeping most nights for more than 2 weeks
- Alternatively, all you want to do is sleep and can’t get enough
- You gain or lose a lot of weight in a short period of time – without trying
- You can’t concentrate, like, at all
- Things that used to bring you happiness no longer feel worth doing
- Your close friends and family have mentioned that you don’t seem like yourself lately
- Your grades plummet
- You’re angry all the time
- You cry all the time, seemingly over nothing
- You engage in increasingly risky behaviors
OUTSIDE FORCES THAT AFFECT MENTAL HEALTH
Sometimes, mental health issues can be genetic. If a close biological family member – say, a parent or sibling – has depression, you might be prone to depression. That’s not a guarantee you’ll have it. It’s like inheriting eye color or height. You may get it, you may not. It may be activated in you, it may not.
There are also outside forces that can weigh you down until you simply can’t hold yourself up anymore.
- Grief or loss
- An abusive home environment
- Drinking alcohol or doing drugs
- Parents’ divorce or separation
- Loss of a close relationship, like a best friend or longtime romantic partner
- A major trauma, whether you experienced it yourself or witnessed one
- Recovering from a long-term illness or injury
- Major life changes, like moving or suddenly having to attend school remotely
None of these things are your fault. It’s ok to handle these situations differently than others around you. Let’s say you and a friend are in a car accident. It’s minor and no one was seriously hurt or killed. Days later, your friend seems fine. Totally unaffected by what happened. You, on the other hand, still feel nervous getting into cars. You still have nightmares about the accident. You can’t concentrate in your classes. That doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you. Everyone processes things differently and in their own times.
But if you notice that weeks go by and you aren’t starting to feel even a little bit better, or you feel worse than before, it might be time to seek professional help. If going to a therapist isn’t doable for you right now, try to find a trusted adult who will at least listen with an open mind. This might be a teacher, aunt or uncle, grandparent, or even the older sibling of one of your friends. Find someone who won’t tell you to “just get over it,” or “try to be happy.” Talk to someone who will listen, validate your feelings, and help you process your way through them.
WHAT YOU CAN DO RIGHT NOW TO TAKE BETTER CARE OF YOUR MENTAL HEALTH
You can actively work to prevent mental health issues as much as possible. There’s no guarantee you won’t ever need professional help. And there’s no magic cure that will make you feel 100% happy 100% of the time. Remember, emotions are normal! Even feeling like crud sometimes is normal.
Just as eating right and moving around is good for your body, there are ways to help your mind stay strong, build resilience, and cope with life’s little slings and arrows a little bit better.
1. Notice your negative emotions without judging yourself. You don’t need to let them take over your life but ignoring pain of any kind will only add to your stress. Are you worried about a test tomorrow? Good. Acknowledge that and move on.
2. Develop positive coping skills. When in doubt, move around a little bit. Or watch a compilation of funny animal videos on YouTube. Whatever you do, get yourself into the habit of turning to something healthy when you feel stressed or anxious.
3. Practice meditating. Start small and slow. Use an app to help you learn how to meditate. Meditation is proven to reduce stress, not only in the moment you feel it, but all day long. It’s like building your mind’s tolerance for stress.
4. Share with your friends. That’s what they’re for.
5. Consider gratitude. Reminding yourself of even one thing that went right in your day or one thing you’re good at, can help shift your mind into a more positive mode.
6. Change something if you can. Let’s say you joined the school track team because you thought it would look good on college applications. Or because your parent was a track star and pressured you into it. But you hate running. You haaaaate running. Practices are a drag, and you dread track meets. Can you quit and do another sport instead? Would that be the end of the world?
Practicing good mental health hygiene before you start to fall apart can help you notice when something’s really wrong and give you the strength to get help.
Find out more about the Kantner Foundation, including our college scholarships for young entrepreneurs in Florida, by clicking here. We look forward to your application!