What’s it like to speak to others about this topic that I’ve made so key in my life? Allow me to give you an idea what it was like to speak at an Active Minds chapter at a university in Boston. Active Minds is a mental health group on hundreds of universities around the United States and Canada. Their focus is students ages 14-25 and they began in 2001. They’re the most well-known mental health group that works with students on college campuses.
I never know how many people will be at an Active Minds talk. The lives of college students are busy. Sometimes there may be five people and other times thirty-five. It’s always hard to say. I set expectations low and force my mind to acknowledge as a reality that there will be four or five folks there. I will make it intimate and relaxed—more conversational. But I also am aware of what I should do if there are many more students than just a handful.
I was pretty excited when I showed up to this particular gig to find approximately twenty-five students sitting in the classroom.
I brought up my PowerPoint presentation. I try not to have too many slides—enough to reinforce primary points.
And then I set in to share my own story of dealing with loneliness in college and how I found myself in that position because of my mental health issues. I stopped at one point in the middle to ask some students their thoughts on why their age group (18-22 year olds) has some of the highest rates of loneliness. They came up with good responses that left me impressed—this was a very self-aware group of individuals.
I followed this up by explaining things they could do to help with their loneliness. There are tools they might use to get out of it should they find themselves in that situation.
When my presentation was over I took some questions from the audience. There were good responses from everyone, including asking how I got into speaking about mental health. I was also asked why I suggested volunteering as a good means to make connections.
Afterward I spoke with a few students and handed out my contact info. I find speaking with students one-on-one to be my favorite part of the evening. I am always curious how they connect to what I shared. I’m also interested in getting a pulse on what is happening amongst a group of individuals to which I am so passionate to speak to.
Every speaking gig is a little different because human beings are unique. But on the whole, that’s what it’s like to speak on the subject of loneliness to university students. It takes a lot of time and practice but it’s worth it. Why? Because what I’ve said can have a positive effect on others. Also, the responses I receive afterward, both in person and through messages, are encouraging. These responses give me a sense of purpose and drive to help me continue with living my life to help others.
Like what you read? Want to have Kurt come talk to your group about belonging, loneliness, and mental health? Click here to contact him about speaking at your event.
This blog is an exploration of the subjects of belonging and loneliness. I also look at mental health issues. I seek to provide content to my readers that is informative and helpful. If you don't want to miss anything, sign up for my email list.