Meet our Mentors: Sam Thomas (she/her)
Interview by Madhumalika Bharani
Would you like to introduce yourself? Tell us where you’re from and a little more about yourself?
I’m Sam. I am from Sydney, Australia, but even that question is funny to me because even though I am from Sydney, I have lived a lot of my life around in different countries. So I kind of feel like I have more than one home. I am from Sydney and I did my University exchange from Toronto. I moved to Paris after that, when I was 22, for 4 years. I also lived in Phuket, Thailand for a while but then moved back home to Australia. The way I live my life now is kind of 6 months in Sydney and 6 months exploring the world. Professionally, I’m a Youth Mentor, but also a Coach, a Speaker, a Writer and I’m still a TV Producer, which actually was my first career. Personally, I come from a pretty big family. So, I’ve got a lot of siblings! I love, love, love the beach, speaking french and eating chocolate, haha!
How is mental health portrayed where you’re from, especially among teens and young adults? Because, in India, it is still a taboo topic and as a result, not a lot of people have the required awareness. It is a real problem.
I have seen a lot of change in my lifetime, I guess. So, I’m 38 and when I was at school, I don’t think we ever spoke about mental health. I certainly don’t remember it being spoken about. It wasn’t something I was really familiar with. I remember, there was a really sad incident that happened in the family, that affected us terribly and I remember the school’s reaction to it. It was the first time I knew that there was a counselor. We didn’t have talks about stress, anxiety, depression, grief, no element of mental health was discussed. I personally, have had mental health struggles for quite a lot of my life and I first started my mental health journey of talking about it and of seeing my own therapist in my early 20s, so I’d say that’s when I first started addressing my own mental health. So, I would like to call myself a ‘mental health advocate’, meaning that it is such a big and important topic and I know that so many people are struggling with their mental health these days, but what I see as promising is that, at least in Australia, it’s spoken about now and that it’s become a more accepted issue. So, even if I think there’s a long way to go, I think it’s changed a lot from when I graduated High School, haha.
And how do you think this problem could be solved? Do you have personal solutions?
I do! I’ve got so many haha! Here’s what I really think about mental health care. So, I think when we think of ‘physical health’, people think, “there are certain things I’m going to do to be healthy, like exercise or eat healthy” and make plans but with ‘mental health’, people only seem to deal with it once they’re already struggling, so the steps they take now, are not preventative, they’re a ‘cure’. It’s like, “now I am really struggling with anxiety, so now, I’m going to go see someone and get some tools to help myself heal, but I’m going to deal with this problem once it is already a problem”.
I think one of the ways that we need to deal with it is that we somehow as a society work out how to reduce the cost of mental health care so that everybody can get it, but I also think what we need to be doing in schools and other institutions is mental fitness, ways to keep your emotions and feelings healthy. This would help them figure it out and not wait until it becomes worse. Why isn’t a healthy lifestyle, both mentally and physically healthy?
As an experienced adult, from a teenager, for the audience out there, DO YOU THINK HEALTHY MENTAL HEALTH IS IMPORTANT *for young adults*? DO YOU THINK TEENS AND YOUNG ADULTS ALSO DESERVE A BREAK SOMETIMES AND PROPER MENTAL HEALTH CARE?
100 PERCENT YES! It is so important! Both mental health and physical health are intertwined and you know, the brain is part of our body and so we need to be giving anyone, young people, older people, anyone of any age, the chance to look after their brains, because you can’t do anything without your brain being able to function properly, so if we do not give the brain enough time to rest, then it’s not healthy.
Do you take days off, you know, mental health days? How important are they?
I take days off all the time hahahah! I am very lucky and part of the reason why I started my own business is because in my mind, corporate systems are not set up to support people’s wellbeing and I was very unwell in my life, particularly mentally. So I decided that I had to take the other way and start working for myself. My whole life is built around having a lot of time to do things that I love and to prioritize the things that I love, my friends, travel and myself and not prioritize stress! So, I don’t take ‘mental health days’ per say, because I’ve set my entire life in a way that gives me balance, freedom and flexibility. I did it purposefully and I needed to do it!
I believe I found Shine From Within on the internet in 2018. My first impression was that it was AMAZING. I remember taking the ‘what kind of Youth Mentor are you?’ quiz and then I remember conversing with Mandy through email and talking to her about the program and personal coaching because I knew I wanted to start working with younger people. I love everything that Shine From Within stands for, I think it felt very aligned to my values. I thought they were amazing, empowering, inspiring and everything that I wanted to be. I am very proud to be a part of this community.
Here’s one question that’s my favorite to ask (and I heard it first when I joined the Shine community haha). What is your ‘Why’?
It’s so funny because I used to be big on having a very clear ‘why’ but now, I have a couple haha – my ‘why’ professionally and my ‘why’ personally. So, here’s ‘why’, both professionally and personally, I do this work – I really believe that the key to someone having an absolutely incredible life is for them to recognize that the relationship they have with themselves is the most important one. Being kind and compassionate with themselves will transform every part of their lives. I want to teach and help as many people on the planet to genuinely love themself. We know love, kindness and compassion have a ripple effect, so if someone loves themself, they will learn to love others. I just want people to have incredible lives!
Do you have a business or something in this field that you’re a part of except for Shine? If yes, could you tell us a little about what you do?
Sure! So, I have 2 businesses and then I have other work that I do. So, I have a business which is called ‘Samantha L Thomas’ where I coach people one – on – one and speak in gigs. So, I actually speak in corporates about mental and emotional wellbeing with my own corporate twist haha! I am also a trained life coach. I also have a business called ‘SparKd’ with my Indian best friend where we help people with emotional eating and eating disorders. I have these 2 separate businesses, I have SFW and then I also do freelance jobs with my other skills haha!
Here’s another question I like to ask. What is one piece of advice you’d like to give your young self?
I would tell her that she is incredible and that she’s doing the best she can. I’d also ask her to be kind to herself. I do truly believe that everyone is doing the best they can, trying to sail through life. I really believe in people and that they are making the best use of the resources they have. Please don’t be cruel to yourselves, be kind, please be kind!
Someone once told me something that resonated with me a lot, so much so, that I teach the little ones in my family that. ‘ Your greatest achievement is when you become someone you wanted and needed growing up to someone else ‘. What is your take on that?
I think that’s really true and I think what we all wanted and what we all needed when we were younger is just to be seen, to be loved, to be heard and to be cared for. So, if we can do all that for one person, that is going to be the greatest achievement of our lives.
Where else can we find you, i.e your socials?
PODCAST: You Are Infinitely Loved
If you’d also like to become a youth mentor and be part of our Shine From Within community, as well as start your own youth mentor business like Aruna in your part of the world, here are a few free things to get you started!
- You can take the free quiz, ‘Do You Have What It Takes to Be a Youth Mentor?’ and discover your youth mentor archetype here.
- You can listen to our podcast, The Youth Mentor Podcast here.
- You can download the free eBook, ‘How Working with Teens Changed Their Life and Business’ here.
- You can take the free masterclass, ‘Take Your Teen Programs Online’ here.
- You can watch the free masterclass, ‘How to support teens in 2021’ here.
- And you can register for the free mini training series here.
And when you’re ready to go further and get the support you need to build or grow your youth-related business, come and join us in the Youth Mentor Training!
We also offer limited business coaching and consulting for more established businesses or folks who need a more personalised approach. Get in touch to enquire or request to book in a complimentary 15min call at firstname.lastname@example.org