The Big Picture: Michelle Jones

Nov 24, 2020 | Celebrating the Years, Living

Michelle Jones, executive director of The Pete Foundation, says, “What really matters to me is mental health and wellness, helping others understand this topic better, and creating positive changes for the health and wellbeing of individuals in our community. I lost my brother and best friend, Pete, to suicide a few years ago. My family and I started the Pete Foundation in his name to prevent suicides proactively by raising awareness and promoting education about mental health.”

Michelle Jones 
Executive Director, The Pete Foundation

What really matters to you? What really matters to me is mental health and wellness, helping others understand this topic better, and creating positive changes for the health and wellbeing of individuals in our community. 

Why does this matter, and has what matters to you changed in recent months? If so, why? I lost my brother and best friend, Pete, to suicide a few years ago. After that I came to fully appreciate the importance of mental health and how little importance our society places on it. My family and I started the Pete Foundation in his name to proactively prevent suicides by raising awareness and promoting education about mental health. This issue and my work with the Pete Foundation over the past few years have become my passion in life. I’m also currently a first year medical student at the University of Louisville, which continues to drive my passion for wellness. The global pandemic and current social situation have only strengthened my passion and efforts in the area of mental health as its importance becomes more and more apparent in every facet of life during this difficult time. 

What has surprised you (as it relates either to yourself or to others)? I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the creativity of our community during the pandemic and how different groups are getting through it. I’ve also, unfortunately, been surprised by the rift in our community that has become elucidated through the current social situation as we push for justice and equality. 

How do you incorporate gratitude into your life? Admittedly it’s been difficult for me at times to stay positive and grateful during the pandemic, so I made a conscious decision to practice gratitude more purposefully. I try to have a more positive outlook by expressing gratitude toward myself about my work as a medical student, my work with the foundation, and my personal life. 

How do you keep yourself calm in the midst of chaos? I’ve found that the best way to keep calm is to keep myself informed, reflect on the situation, and focus on the things I can control as opposed to the things I can’t. 

What brings you the greatest joy? What gives me joy has changed recently with changes in my personal, professional, and academic life. Right now, I find joy in working on myself, working toward success and productivity, and overcoming challenges while nurturing the people around me. 

How do you bring joy to others? One goal I set for myself in 2020 is to become a better friend, partner, and family member by working on myself in ways that give more joy, support, and encouragement to the people I love. I hope to radiate joy to the people in my life by making a conscious effort to strengthen my relationships. 

What are you looking forward to? I’m mostly looking forward to the end of the pandemic and everything going back to normal. Starting medical school in the middle of a global pandemic, on top of the challenges it’s placed on the Pete Foundation and the changes it’s caused in all of our personal lives, has been difficult, to say the least. 

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