As a self-proclaimed people-oriented person, 19-year-old Seika Brown is happiest when she’s around others. The love and support she receives from her family and friends drives her work and motivates her to keep going.
When Seika was 15, her psychology teacher assigned her a project to find a problem in the school and present a solution to the administration. She decided to address the lack of mental healthcare in school because of her personal experience. “My brother struggles with chronic depression,” she said. “Working in mental health is my attempt to give back what he has given me and to show people that love is at every corner.”
“Working in mental health is my attempt to give back what he has given me and to show people that love is at every corner.”
During her presentation, Seika asked the administration to create a mental health club that focused on sharing resources. The administration denied the request, but her teacher encouraged her not to settle and suggested that she reach out to professionals and advocates in the field. “The legislators, senators, and professors that I spoke to asked me to testify and provide input for a mental health bill they have been working on,” she said. “From there, my want for a school club turned into a group of kids working towards passing a bill and creating a program for schools.”
Today, Seika is the founder of ArchNova, an organization around mental health policy change. She is currently leading a global research initiative to learn about mental health in different cultures worldwide. “I go into my work with the outlook to learn, regardless of if they are for or against what I believe,” she said. “I focus on including youth in conversations, not to dominate but to contribute.”
As an exceptional Gen Z’er making an impact, she was honored for her work in the Mental Health space through The ConversationaLIST. “I use my voice for good by approaching conversations with an intergenerational lens,” she said. “I go into my work with the outlook to learn; regardless of if they are for or against what I believe. I focus on including youth in conversations, not to dominate but to contribute.”
Seika remembers her first paid speaking event in Seattle, where she addressed a group of grad students and community members, as the moment when she realized the impact of her work and her voice. “An older woman with tears in her eyes came up to me, held my hand, and thanked me,” she said. “She said it was the first time she smiled since her daughter passed due to suicide. That moment sparked a flame in me that maybe I can’t make the world turn, but these small interactions that make people smile are worth all the hard work.”
“You don’t “find” your voice. You have it, but learn how great it is.”
Seika’s friends encouraged her to find her voice by reminding her to stay true to herself. She wants other young people to heed the same advice. “You don’t “find” your voice. You have it, but learn how great it is,” she said. “To learn this, look around [at] your friends, family, those you care about have been impacted by your voice. Start to reach out to those in your community, hear their stories, and begin to tell yours. Your voice is not limited to chanting in the streets or making easily seen change. Your voice is strongest when you’re talking to others.”
Five years from now, Seika will have graduated from University. While she doesn’t have a clear vision of what her life might look like, she hopes to stay true to her values. “I work hard for [my] brother who supported his little sister at a young age, the friends who believe in me day in and out, and for the people out there who are waiting for this kind of love and support,” she said.
Seika believes that conversation is a vital part of understanding others. She’s grateful to The Conversationalist for offering a space for Gen Zer’s to have genuine conversations and unite around important issues. “I think unity comes with education, understanding, listening, and communicating,” she said. “It's allowing people to exist and live their lives in the way they choose to.”
“I think unity comes with education, understanding, listening, and communicating.”
She finds that the most unifying conversations happen when each individual seeks to learn rather than teach.“If one side of an argument can approach a conversation or viewpoint with human respect, willingness to understand, and without the want to change another's mind, a bridge is bound to be made,” she said. “The lack of unity starts with being stuck to one side without really hearing the other. Gen Z can be the leader of an open mind and human respect.”
The Conversationalist couldn’t be more grateful to Seika Brown for her dedication to uplifting others and staying true to what she values most. Keep up with her on Instagram to learn more about her work.