Career Development

4 ways to balance mental health, career goals

Left to right: Lamman Rucker, Gaston Rossato '08, Alexis Brown, FIU Trustee Chanel Rowe JD '14, and Jeff Rocker
Left to right: Lamman Rucker, Gaston Rossato '08, Alexis Brown, FIU Trustee Chanel Rowe JD '14, and Jeff Rocker

The transition to a career can bring uncertainty, stress and upheaval, making it a crucial time to prioritize your mental wellness – and seek help if you notice your mental health is declining.

On Nov. 15, FIU hosted a panel discussion on balancing mental health and career goals in demanding industries such as entrepreneurship, entertainment and hospitality. It featured successful local entrepreneurs, a licensed mental health counselor, alumni and a celebrity.

The event was presented by FIU Student Health and Wellness in partnership with Florida Power & Light, FIU Student Access and Success, and FIU Alumni; and it was organized and moderated by FIU Trustee Chanel Rowe JD ’14, who is founder and managing partner at Uriel Law.

The panelists shared this advice:

Lean into your community.

Lamman Rucker, an actor known for hit television series like Greenleaf and an educator, activist and entrepreneur, reminded students that when you’re down on your luck or you’re not feeling like yourself, you have a support system all around you – whether it be family, friends, a mentor, a professor, a religious organization, or a wellness service provided by the university.

Rucker said that throughout his life, he has sought support from his own community, including his “many dads” – father-like figures who, in addition to his own father, played significant roles in his upbringing. He has also been a source of support for loved ones, such as his godchildren, whom he looked after while their parents were working or going to school.

“Lean into your community. Lean into those who love you and who can support you,” Rucker said.

Remember that therapy is a judgment-free zone.

Jeff Rocker, Ph.D., a licensed mental health counselor and celebrity therapist, assured students that therapy is a safe space, and it’s open to everyone.

“You will not be judged by a therapist… we’re going to help you find the best answer for you and help you achieve it,” Rocker said, later adding, “You can’t be helped if you don’t speak up, and to speak up, you have to be vulnerable. There are people who look like you and who think like you, who want to help you.”

Prioritize self-care.

Alexis Brown, chief experience officer of Miami-based events and marketing agency SocialXchange, encouraged students to prioritize self-care and to understand that your self-care needs change as you age. When you’re young, self-care may look like a night out laughing and dancing with friends; but later in life, self-care might mean focusing on your emotional wellness, setting boundaries and creating safe spaces.

For her, balancing self-care and a career in hospitality means prioritizing physical wellness, staying organized and keeping a calendar. No matter what your routine looks like, Brown says self-discipline is key to your success.

“Discipline in itself is a form of self-care. Love yourself enough to be consistent,” Brown said.

Keep an open mind.

Gaston Rossato ’08, alumnus and founder of The Barn Miami, a classic and exotic auto boutique, shared it’s important not to dwell too much if you find yourself thrown off the planned course. He emphasized that resilience, open-mindedness and the ability to pivot will help keep your spirits up.

“Sometimes we think about things a little too much, and we plan too much ahead… For a long time, I thought it was a weakness to dive into things without thinking too much. But I think in the long term, I’ve realized it’s probably a strength to listen to your gut,” Rossato said.

FIU Student Health and Wellness offers a variety of services to support mental well-being, including Counseling and Psychological Services, online self-help platforms, and more. These services are funded by the university health fee and are available to enrolled students at no additional cost. Learn more or schedule an appointment online.

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