Many of us view January as the month of new beginnings. The holidays are past us, and things have slowed down a bit, but we are still in the dark, cold months of winter. We often look at ways to use this time of new starts to eat healthier, exercise more, or drink less alcohol. But we often overlook one of the most important aspects of our lives: our mental health. This is where Randy Young is here to help.
Young is the owner of Revive With Randy, a Waconia-based organization focused on men’s mental health. He’s working to not only guide and support men but also remove some stigma surrounding men talking about their struggles.
He is a Certified Peer Support Specialist (CPSS), providing support and encouragement to those working through mental health issues. Formerly an IT enterprise architect, he became a CPSS after suffering a mental breakdown in 2020. His sister-in-law, Heather Boll, (also a CPSS and owner of The Hive in Waconia), helped him work through that time and get on the other side of it.
“As a CPSS, I use the experience I’ve had with mental illness to help others put a game plan together to manage their mental fitness,” he says. “This usually includes a regular session to keep working on the plan, see how things are going, and help with any issues. I don’t fix mental illness; we manage mental illness together.”
Getting through his dark time inspired Young to start a men’s group, called Speakeasy. The group meets for two hours at The Hive in Waconia on a regular basis. It’s a place for men to connect and heal from issues impacting their lives. In addition, he offers tools and resources to help men with their struggles as well as individual sessions, which are available for men ages teen to adult.
“Mental illness has no age boundaries,” he says. “It does not discriminate. It impacts all walks of life.”
For men, in particular, talking about feelings and mental struggles still has some stigma. Young explains it’s a man’s nature to be strong, which, for some, does not equal being vulnerable. Cultural and societal pressure can also make men feel they need to be tough and not show emotion. He also recognizes the impact of getting a constant influx of negative news and social media.
Mental health is becoming less taboo of a topic, thanks in large part to celebrities and professional athletes talking about it. Michael Phelps, Kevin Love, and Dak Prescott are some of many who have opened up about their struggles with anxiety and depression.
“The crazy thing is, as a man, I think one of the strongest and bravest things you can do is be vulnerable, show emotion, and ask for help,” Young says. He commends Minnesota Gophers football coach PJ Fleck with making mental health awareness a priority with his team. Fleck and his staff meet with members of the team each week to talk about what’s going on in their lives, and it doesn’t need to be about football. Fleck has also been open about his own struggles with mental health.
There are signs to be aware of if you or someone you know is grappling with mental health. If someone is suddenly short-tempered, stops doing what they love, or is hesitant to do what they previously enjoyed, it could be a red flag. In addition, if someone tries to escape the pain with alcohol or drugs, it’s a sign they’re struggling.
Young recommends some easy things men (and women) can do when they’re feeling down, anxious or overwhelmed.
“What works for one person may not work for another,” he says. “The key is finding the right combination.”
Some things he suggests in trying to reduce stress and anxiety:
Listen to relaxing music
Use an oil diffuser with a scent you like
Meditate and take time for yourself
Reduce stressful situations, like being in a large crowd.
In these dark days of winter, when all of us can get to feeling a bit cooped up and alone, Young recommends finding something you like to do and encourages trying new activities.
Young offers in-person help, group sessions, and phone or Zoom sessions. To make an appointment or to join the men’s Speakeasy group, go to http://www.hivemn.com.
Randy Young is the owner of Revive With Randy, a Waconia-based organization focused on helping men work through their mental health issues. Young also runs a men's discussion group at The Hive in Waconia where men are encouraged to connect and discuss their struggles in an open and safe environment. Young offers help to men aged teens to adults.
"The crazy thing is, as a man, I think the strongest and bravest thing you can do is be vulnerable, show emotion, and ask for help."