#3: You’re Not Alone: Loneliness, Isolation, and COVID

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Hey there, and welcome to Real Talk with Gen Z, a new podcast mini-series. This is a conversation show. Members of Gen Z talk with experts in mental health. They discuss the unique experiences of our generation and explore crucial mental health topics.

According to a report from Harvard’s Graduate School of Education, 36% of all Americans, including 61% of young adults, feel serious loneliness. The COVID-19 pandemic and the associated social isolation has exacerbated loneliness and its impact on the mental health of some young adults.

In this episode of Real Talk with Gen Z our co-hosts Leah Hughes and Dillon Maheshwari are joined by Dr. Melissa Miller, a licensed psychologist leading Clinical Quality and Excellence at Vita Health, to share their real-life experiences of managing loneliness and isolation during COVID, how to build connection with others, and seek support for mental health needs.

Host and guest bios below:

Dr. Melissa Miller:
Melissa Miller, PhD, is a licensed psychologist with 15 years of experience working across medical center, private practice, and telehealth settings. She currently leads Clinical Quality and Excellence at Vita Health. Melissa’s area of clinical expertise is in the treatment of anxiety, trauma, and adjustment struggles in teen and young adults. Her clinical approach is grounded in evidence-based treatments that are proven to work and provided within the context of a warm, accepting, and respectful therapeutic space. Melissa is passionate about ending the stigma associated with mental health. She believes strongly that no one should go through difficult times alone, and she considers it a tremendous privilege to help others in their time of need.

Leah Hughes:
Leah Hughes is the 16-year-old daughter of Dr. Sonja Hughes and Mr. Willie Hughes of Oklahoma City who promotes a social impact initiative (Role) Model Behavior focused on motivating others to find their passion, use their voice, and take action for volunteerism. Turning privilege into purpose, Leah has been a role model to youth as the creator of the annual Fostering Fashion Show which leverages her love for fashion and her passion for helping foster youth in a runway event to raise funds for Citizens Caring for Children and Cut It Forward, two Oklahoma organizations that support foster families. To date, Leah has raised nearly $5,000 and served over 700 service hours in her desire to be a role model for youth. Most recently, Leah was named the 2022 Oklahoma City Teen of Impact by the American Heart Association. Leah has been on the Headmaster’s List for all academic reporting periods, and she is a member of the Varsity Pom team. Leah enjoys playing competitive volleyball, singing, and helping with Children’s Church. After graduating from high school, Leah plans to study business management before pursuing a career in the fashion industry.

Dillon Maheshwari:
Dillon Maheshwari lives near San Francisco, California and is a 2022 graduate of Livermore High School. Dillon was the valedictorian of his graduating class and enjoys sports and fitness, both of which have played a huge role in his path and journey to social wellbeing. Dillan ran track, cross country, and played basketball all 4 years while at Livermore High School. Dillon will be attending UCLA in the fall with a major in data theory.

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