NOTE: Due to COVID-19, I am offering two types of remote programs on mental health, stress reduction and natural highs. These could be on the platform of your choice. Option 1) An interview style presentation where a local student leader or staff member interviews me with directed questions about natural highs and healthy coping during this unique time. This gives me an opportunity to still present material, but in a more conversational way than just speaking into a camera. This is ideal for larger groups. Option 2) Discussion session with a smaller group about stress and healthy coping. In this session, I will present some material, but also ask questions to the group and provide guided feedback.
Brain Matters: Scientists believe that the brain does not fully develop until the age of 25. My wife says, “For men, it’s 45," but it turns out it's 22 for females and 25 for males. As a result college-age students find themselves in the perfect storm of health risks. They may feel invincible, but they suffer the highest rates of motor vehicle accidents, homicides, substance abuse and mental health issues. In addition, they are increasingly at risk for opiate additiction, especially if they're permissive to alcohol and other drug use. Therefore, it is an important time to emphasize positive social support and using healthy coping mechanisms to help them make smart decisions and deal with stress appropriately.
Keynote:“A Better High”
Ideal Settings: Orientations, NCAA Programs,Conferences
Ideal Audience Size: 100 – 5,000 depending on the venue
Length: 70 minutes
This informative and humorous presentation focuses on natural highs and creating healthy habits in college. Matt’s comedic style, interactive demonstrations and inspirational stories are an ideal combination for college audiences. In addition, current research on resilience, mental health and substance abuse are integrated into the program. Matt also shares his story of college prevention leadership, as the founder of a nationally recognized student group at Bucknell University.
Like all Matt’s programs, “A Better High” has specific learning objectives. The audience will:
- Gain an understanding of the science behind natural highs, such as the neurotransmitters released during running, laughing and loving others.
- Recognize the importance of positive social support, including having friends who make healthier choices around alcohol and other drugs.
- Learn about the protective factors that increase resilience and mental health in college students.
- Be able to discuss the effects of marijuana and alcohol use on the brain when used prior to the age of 25.
- Have fun and associate having fun with prevention in college.
Stand-Up Comedy Night
Ideal Settings: All-Campus Comedy Show, Conference Entertainment
Ideal Audience Size: 50-500
Length: 90 minutes
This event is a great way to take Matt's natural high message to the next level. The stand-up comedy show is perfect for any campus. This show brings the laughs without relying on material that promotes substance abuse. The 90-minute show includes Matt and two other comedians from New York City. Past shows have included comedians such as Joe Matarese from America's Got Talent and The Late Show with David Letterman, Ted Alexandro from The Late Show with David Letterman, Conan O’Brian and Jimmy Kimmel Live and a nationally known improv comedy troupe called The Indicators.
Ideal Audiences: Peer Health Educators, Student Leaders, Residence Staff
Ideal Audience Size: 50 or less
Length: 60-90 minutes
“Booze, Behavior and the Brain.” Alcohol remains the drug of choice for young people. Nearly a quarter of 12th graders reported binge drinking in the past month (Monitoring the Future Survey, 2013). However, neuroscientists are just beginning to learn about the life-long changes caused by adolescent binge drinking. The adolescent brain is uniquely vulnerable to risk-taking and addiction, both potential outcomes of frequent binge drinking. This workshop is an interactive discussion of the effects of alcohol use on the developing brain and behavior. Dr. Bellace uses humor and a non-judgmental approach to convey neuroscience research that supports choosing healthy natural highs over chemical highs like alcohol.
“Pot, Behavior and the Brain.”Some people believe that pot is “like salad.” This funny, but sadly inaccurate statement is consistent with the data showing a decrease in the number of young people who disapprove of regular pot use (Monitoring the Future Survey, 2010). The relaxation of state marijuana laws, smoking of the drug as “medicine” and spread of misinformation through pop culture creates an illusion that pot is safe for the adolescent brain. This workshop is an interactive discussion of the effects of marijuana use on the developing brain and behavior. Dr. Bellace uses humor and a non-judgmental approach to convey neuroscience research that supports choosing healthy natural highs over chemical highs like marijuana.
Public Speaking/ Stand-up Comedy Workshop
Ideal Audience: Students and Staff
Ideal Audience Size: 30 or more
Duration: 90 minutes
This event is a great way to have a natural high while learning to give others a natural high! The workshop discusses the main points of public speaking with an emphasis on humor. Even if you don't consider yourself a naturally funny person, there are techniques you can use to be more comfortable in front of the audience and connect with them. Each participant will present material in front of the group and receive supportive feedback.