by Christy Henderson, BYS Counselor

May, being Mental Health Awareness month, is a good time to remind ourselves what mental health is and why it’s so important. In reality ‘mental health’ is something we ask about every day. Every time you ask the simple question, “How are you?”, you truly are asking someone about all aspects of their well-being and this includes their emotional and psychological well-being, or their mental health. The tricky thing about mental health is, while you can more easily see when someone is struggling physically, mental struggles can be far less visible and, for the person struggling, can sometimes feel far larger and more confusing than the physical ones. Along with this, it can be hard to know where to go for help. 

If you know a youth who seems to be slumping over more than usual or is getting angry faster than usual or doesn’t seem as bright or motivated as they might normally be, check in with them. Ask them how they are and make sure they know BYS is here to support them and is confidential and free. Share with them that nothing is too big or small to bring to BYS. They don’t even have to know what’s bothering them. If they feel sad, overwhelmed, or just not quite themselves, they can meet with a BYS counselor and say, “I don’t know what’s wrong,” and that counselor will help them discover what they are feeling and need. In another situation, a youth might know exactly what’s bothering them and it may just feel too huge to navigate on their own. In that case, a BYS counselor will be there to listen and support them in finding ways to move forward. For some, BYS is a starting point that leads to other types of support. When a teen comes to BYS, we can help them learn about all the resources BYS offers, as well as connect them to others they may need, but don’t yet know are available. 

Some youth may feel unsure of what counseling will be like, and this could make them hesitate to reach out. If you know a youth who feels this way, share with them that it is not unusual for teens to feel this way, and most are relieved to find that, by reaching out to BYS, they have connected with a place full of people who just want to hear them and see them and make what feels heavy and confusing feel a bit lighter and less foggy.

Thank you for all you are doing to see and care for our youth community. Together, we can make sure our teens know they are not alone, and we can support them as they discover and express their own unique strengths, talent, value, and voice.