by Courtney Oliver, Executive Director

As we look ahead to May, which is Mental Health Awareness Month, I find myself reflecting on my journey working in community mental health over the past fifteen years. During the past decade, the public’s views about mental health have changed tremendously as the stigmas around it have been challenged. More individuals are sharing their stories openly and many are starting to consider their mental health in the same way they consider their physical health.

Today’s youth seemingly are more educated and more comfortable talking about and addressing mental health topics than most older adults. One thing remains the same generation after generation, however, and that’s the importance of providing youth access to support and counseling when they are in need.

The main reason I became a counselor at BYS five years ago is because of the approach BYS takes with youth. At BYS, we let the youth determine their treatment, we meet them where they are and do not judge the reason they reached out for support or the choices they have made and we don’t give them a timeline. This is important to me because this is what builds trust and keeps youth coming in our doors throughout their high school years and beyond. BYS lets today’s youth know that taking care of one’s mental health is vital and seeking support is brave and a good habit to nurture.

I’m proud of BYS and the free, confidential and accessible support we provide to promote the social and emotional well-being of all youth. We want all young people to thrive and we work to provide the tools they need to be mentally healthy and resilient adults.