by McKenna Blackshire, grade 8

The Mental Health Resource Center Reception began with two Teen Advisory Board members, Frissiel Juscamatia and Meep Gomez, talking to the audience about their own experiences and beliefs related to Mental Health. This was followed by representatives from several organizations, each specializing in mental health, or more specifically, teen’s mental health in different ways. Mental Health can stretch from feeling safe in your neighborhood and knowing how to take care of your physical self, to commonly known conditions such as Depression and Anxiety.

The Pasadena Public Health Department discussed how hard it could be to feel confident enough to get help for any mental condition you may have, but that it is still possible to get the help that you need. I learned that 1 out of 5 people have some form of mental illness. That is too large a percentage of the population for people to still be ashamed of their conditions.

Emily Wu Truong of Each Mind Matters and NAMI shared her own story of living with her mental conditions; she couldn’t find the resources she needed, so she made her own. Emily taught herself how to live healthy and feel capable with her mental conditions until she was able to find the help that best suited her. The organizations she represents both enforce that mental conditions should not be stigmatized, they do not have to define who you are and you should not have to hide them.

Elliot Snow, a teen representative from Teen Line, a hotline for teens where the calls are answered by other teens. Teens can call to talk about any problem they might be facing or having difficulties talking to someone they know about mental illness. Sometimes, it makes teens feel more comfortable when they can “talk to people within their age group who are going through or have gone through something similar”.

Day One organization focuses on the things we wouldn’t usually consider factors in or mental conditions: physical health and the certainty of our safety. Day One has a group for teenagers that meet every Wednesday, where you can meet and connect with people by sharing your problems.

The last presenter was from Dveal Family & Youth Services, an organization focused on teens in the foster system who are considered “mentally ill or unstable” and “unwanted”. The presenter shared that specifically for one of the teens she fostered, the remnants of the physical abuse they went through didn’t go away immediately after getting out of that unsafe environment, that it still stuck in their brains and hearts. That is true for a lot of different mental conditions especially because a lot cannot be “cured,” you have to learn to live with the pain, sadness or exhaustion to a point where it becomes less difficult.

For more information about Mental Health, you can check out the still growing mental health resource center located in Teen Central at Pasadena Central Library, or look online at resources at http://cityofpasadena.lib