“In December, the Surgeon General issued a warning about the state of mental health among America’s youth. His public health advisory urged immediate action to support young people’s mental health and well-being” (www.mentoring.org)
While living our lives, adjusting to overt and subtle new normals, COVID began to change the way we live in ways that continue to reveal itself on a daily basis. We must also consider the fact that “more than 200,000 young people lost caregivers, parents, or guardians to COVID.”
(www.mentoring.org). Many of these young people are working to pick up the pieces of their lives without the guidance necessary to maintain their mental health and well-being – not to mention not having the wherewithal to continue to develop cognitively, discover their aptitudes and pursue educational achievement. Our young people (future leaders of the world) need support NOW!
We can all play a part by being a mentor as we navigate through these trying times together. A mentor can change the trajectory of a person’s life and is necessary throughout all ages and stages of life. Take a few moments to think about how your life path may have been different if you didn’t have a mentor(s) in your life. If you didn’t have a mentor, how do you think your life path may have been different? How would you see yourself differently? What do you think your life would be like? Did their involvement in your life help you to see the world differently? There are hundreds of thousands (millions even) of young people who can benefit from someone playing the role of mentor (formal or informal) in their lives. Providing good counsel and leadership in their lives where there is none, can help them to experience a different version of themselves.
Mentoring allows mentors to fuel the potential of their mentees, leading to opportunities for the mentee to expand their dreams. Now is a time where the lives of young people need to be poured into. Otherwise, we may lose them to the adversities of life. Kareem Abdul Jabbar was mentored by John Wooden, and Oprah Winfrey was mentored by Maya Angelou. We see the effects of their influence. Had it not been for the mentors in my life to help me see the good within, to be a safe space to challenge me to discover and develop skills, I wouldn’t be in the position I am today (an entrepreneur, educator, community leader, poet, author, and mental health advocate, for starters.)
Some may say: “I don’t have time to be a mentor.” “I’m not in a good head space to mentor someone else.” “I don’t have anything to offer anyone else.” And I’ll say: Look at your schedule and see where you can sacrifice one hour a month. Being a mentor can support your own mental health. Your life matters because there is value in your lived experiences.
The Minority Mental Health Project encourages you to share your own mentoring story and connect with and support the mission of organizations in your area who are already doing the work. Save a life. When you save one, through his or her influence, you save a multitude.
Written by: Stephanie M. Jackson, M.Ed. M.A. of H.O.P.E. Eternally, LLC