Making Mental Health Matter for the Young
I got COVID in December. Badly. I thought I was going to die. I told my dad what to do if I did; I started thinking about how my daughter’s life would look without me there to hold her hand. Buy her first car. Take her to prom. Take her to college.
The emergency room turned me away because I wasn’t dying (at the time, the hospitals were so overrun that was the requirement for entry).
“You’re recovering,” the ER doctor told me.
“This isn’t recovering,” I thought.
After five weeks of Netflix, tears, social isolation, and a missed Christmas and New Year’s, I tested negative. It was one of the best days of 2021.
The worst year of our collective lives was over, but the real problems were just starting. Now, our brains had to reconcile with the loss and trauma we’d all just faced, which today translates into the highest attempted suicide rate for kids the country has ever seen and a 40 percent increase in depression and anxiety among adults.
I think I handled the mental health challenges of 2020 (social isolation, fear, job insecurity, loneliness) as well as most people. But I had resources. I had counseling. I had two really supportive parents and friends who loved me; I was lucky. Even with all that support, I cried a lot. A lot. I felt hopeless and alone so many of those days.
Before the pandemic started, I had the inklings of an idea for a box of tangible products to help improve mental health in young people. I’m a college professor at TCU; I’ve seen my students struggle with mental health for years — long before COVID was even in our vocabulary. When the pandemic hit, I knew it was what I needed to do.
I launched Better Box after a year of research, focus group testing, business strategy development, and soul searching. Besides having my daughter (and obvious job as a professor — GO FROGS), it’s the best thing I’ve ever done. I feel like all the challenges in my life have prepared me for this. I know young people. I know students. I know mental health struggles. And I know what it’s like to be a mother. We need help, support, and the resources to get better.
Better Box was designed to help improve overall well-being in kids, young people, and adults in the helping professions (like teachers and nurses). It uses evidence-informed products and practices based on research to treat mental health holistically.
Better Box addresses social, physical, and mental health with three products that work on those areas in our brains. (1) There are greeting cards in the box designed to increase social connection and inspiration. (2) There’s a lavender candle or lip balm to connect with our physical senses using the efficacy of lavender to lower stress and improve mood. (3) And there’s a journal to write down daily gratitude, which cultivates well-being and provides hope for the future.
It’s a social impact business model that maintains our mission “to help improve mental health” first and foremost. I want our clients — schools, nonprofits, hospitals, and those beautiful souls working in the helping professions — to use Better Box as a piece in the journey to wellness and a product they give their clients, students, and kids to do the same. For me, that journey lasts a lifetime.
Create a better life with wellness in mind with Better Box. Get Better today at www.yourbetterbox.org and follow our journey @your_betterbox on Instagram and @yourbetterbox on Facebook.
For more than a decade, Sarah Angle has worked as a Texas-based writer. Currently, she teaches in the School of Strategic Communication at TCU. Sarah lives in Fort Worth with her darling daughter and a house full of books and mid-century modern décor.