Beauty Inside & Out: Mental Health

13 min listen

Our Impact

Intro [00:00:06] Welcome to a fresh take, where we welcome experts from all backgrounds to have mindful conversations around relevant topics, all timed perfectly to your masking experience, sit back, apply your favorite mask and Press play.

Moderator: Sam [00:00:34] Hi, I'm Sam from the social media team here at Fresh today on a fresh take. We welcome Joe Pressley, who's going to talk with us about self care and its importance, especially for the LGBTQ plus community. Joe is the CEO of H.M.S. the Hetrick Martin Institute, which is the country's oldest and largest organization serving LGBTQ, plus the youth of color here in New York, and not to mention a longtime partner of Fresh Joe. Thanks for being here. It's so nice to have you.

Guest: Joe [00:01:02] I'm so glad to be here. How are you doing today, Sam?

Moderator: Sam [00:01:05] I'm well, I'm excited to talk about this important topic with you. So I wanted to ask you on the topic of self care, I've seen a variety of ways people define self care. You know, you ask people and everyone has their own interpretation. But to me, what has stuck most with me when it comes to self care is this idea of playing an active role in your well-being and your overall happiness. So one of my favorite self care luxuries is something so simple, but it just makes me feel really good taking a nice hot shower, really relaxing shower and listening to my favorite podcasts and taking the time to do my full skincare routine and not feeling rushed to me. That is like epitome of my self care luxuries, but it's so unique for everyone. So how do you personally practice health care and what is health care mean to you, Joe?

Guest: Joe [00:02:00] Health care is so unique. It's so relative, I guess, to each individual. And for me, I guess I've learned that self care for me is really thinking about taking care of myself before I can really be a focus and help to others. And so self care for me is really spending a lot of quality time with my chosen family. And for me, chosen family is not just the folks who I share some DNA with, but really I've learned in my journey as a black gay man, it's really creating a network of people who I rely upon. Some of them I share some DNA with, and some of them we just have met through my journey through life. And so I've been able to construct what I call my chosen family.

Moderator: Sam [00:02:56] So talk to me about HMG, the Hetrick Martin Institute, which is the LGBTQ plus youth organization that you're currently leading,

Guest: Joe [00:03:04] HMG, the Martin Institute, believes that all young people, regardless of sexual orientation or identity, deserve a safe and supportive environment in which to to achieve their full potential. We create this environment where where where LGBTQ youth between the ages of 13 and 24 are able to come in and live their lives to their fullest potentials, and we also reach out to their families because, you know, we just spoke about chosen family. And it's really important to realize that our young people exist in community. And those those families are not just always people who share who they share DNA with, but it's also their chosen families. It's their friends who are who become their brothers. It's their older relatives and sometimes their moms and their dads and their grandparents. They create their own constructs of family. And we embrace that. We also believe that it's important that each of my creating environments where people can live their lives to their fullest potential. We also believe that we have to provide the best of services and that we have to deliver services in a way that just develop youth and create innovative programs that that really can enhance the lives of our young people. Another part of HMD also because we know that we can't do this alone, our young people live in communities across the city, across the state, across the country. Right. And so we believe that it's important that if we really want to be of service to our young people, that it's important that we also reach out to the organizations that touch their lives. These could be corporations, it could be businesses, it could be other non-government other non-government organizations or Sibos. And we do that through training and providing tools that these organizations, corporations, businesses, churches can reach our young people, each my beliefs that we have to live in the intersections of our young people. So it's not just about looking at them through the lens of their sexual identity, but also thinking about them around race and class and gender, around the intersections of social justice and criminal justice and health care and and in housing. You know, and we know that if we want to do that work, we have to also partner with those organizations that touched our young people's lives. HMG also believes that it can't just be about homophobia, right? 90 over 90 percent of our young people are people of color, black and brown. Over 80 percent of those folks are living at or below the poverty line. And so we must reach our young people and enhance their lives and also not just look at it through the lens of homophobia, which is all important. You better believe. But we also if we want our young people to be to have productive lives and to be successful, we have to look at them in their totality.

Moderator: Sam [00:06:36] So for the youth that HMG supports, what are some of the biggest challenges that they face?

Guest: Joe [00:06:41] Homophobia and stigma are obviously at the forefront in many ways in terms of what are some of the biggest challenges. But also at the forefront are the intersexual approaches, intersectional issues that I spoke about earlier. Our young people, you know, they want jobs, they want career counseling, they want academic enrichment. Immigration is an issue for many of our folks. We also are seeing that so rough schools, unfortunately, not only in New York City, but across the country. And we're hearing about it even across the ocean, that some of our schools are almost creating pipelines to prison. And we know that we want to stop that pipeline. And so we have to make certain that we are providing, like I said earlier, programs that are that are looking at doing that.

Moderator: Sam [00:07:44] Because these challenges are so real and can at times feel daunting, even, I imagine self care can get a little deep prioritized. It can fall a few ranks on someone's priority list. However, I think it's really important, especially for mental health, to again play that active role in your well-being and your overall happiness. Last year, during the beginning of the pandemic, I kind of lost my sense of self care and overall happiness, it fell to the wayside. I was confused, anxious, nervous, and I wasn't playing an active role in my well-being. Talking to someone and having that connection really does bring you out of a dark place. I have found it helped. Me feel like, oh. It's not just me. I'm not alone in this, I'm not alone in how I feel or what I'm going through. There are people out there and again, it's why that sense of community and belonging is so important. Everyone wants to feel like they belong and everyone wants to feel loved. And having reaching out to someone and talking to someone can really help you start to climb out of that metaphorical hole that you might be in. So what does this look like now for HMRC as an organization as it comes to mental health?

Guest: Joe [00:09:25] Just about a year ago, right, folks were being told shelter in place, you know, don't go out, don't don't mingle. And, you know, for our young people, sheltering in place was a difficult thing. You know, some of our young people are living in households that are not embracing, that are not supportive. Some of our young people, even if they are living in those supportive environments where yearning to see their chosen families. And so it was very, very difficult. I'm proud to say that HMG. For immediately, we knew that we could not miss a beat in terms of being there for our young people. And so what we did is we shifted. Our mental health services to a virtual endeavor where young people were able to connect with their counselors, with their mental health care counselors and be able to receive the ongoing support that so many of them needed.

Moderator: Sam [00:10:37] The connection is is what is so important, whether it's virtual or in person having that connection and that person to talk to is can be lifesaving.

Guest: Joe [00:10:50] You know, Sam, I think about, you know, my own journey growing up in Brooklyn, you know, some 40 years ago, I'm a I'm born and raised in Brooklyn, born in that I grew up in Crown Heights. And, you know, I wish I had HMG when I was growing up as a young as a as a youth in Brooklyn. I remember sitting in my church in Brooklyn as a teenager and not out to anyone, barely out to myself and the minister saying that church service one Sunday, if there's anyone in this congregation who's gay, you need to get up and leave. And there I am, basically a 13 year old and felt like he was focusing on me. And, you know, I just wish that, you know, I had an HMO to go to because, you know, it's just I had I felt like I couldn't talk to my parents about it. I couldn't talk to my friends about it. I barely acknowledged to myself, but I knew that I was gay, but felt that, you know, there was no one to talk to. And, you know, you get older and you you know, you go through the journey. But, wow, I wish that I had an HMO. I wish I had a caring community that could have reached out to me those 40 years ago sitting as a black young man in that church.

Moderator: Sam [00:12:22] Joe, this has been really great. Thank you so much for your time and speaking with us today. It's been really insightful and I just want to say again, what you do and what your organization does is so important and so appreciated. And thank you for being here, truly.

Guest: Joe [00:12:40] Thank you so much, Sam. Thank you. Also to fresh in for the partnership. We're so glad to have done this today. And it was really, really great talking to you as well.

Outro [00:13:03] Thanks for listening to a fresh take and indulging in some feel good beauty for the skin and mind.

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