Brittany struggled through high school and college with depression, isolation, and suicide attempts. She is a survivor. In she was the 2012 Recipient of the Voice Award. The awards program recognizes the achievements of consumer/peer leaders who are sharing their stories of recovery and working to promote the social inclusion of people with behavioral health problems throughout the Nation. Brittany has been described by those she serves as an “old soul,” wise beyond her years. Her passion for youth and mental health sparked in college. Double-majoring in psychology and women’s and gender studies; she became passionate about sharing her experiences, specifically with women and young adults. She interned at the Women’s Resource Center in Greensboro, NC; from then on she knew that was the type of work she was meant to do.
Since January 2011, Ms. Holt has worked for North Carolina Families United and was Youth Program Advisor for Youth M.O.V.E. (Motivating Others through Voices of Experience) North Carolina, the statewide chapter of a nationally recognized youth-led leadership organization. In this role, she organized an annual statewide leadership series for young adult’s ages 15−21 who have behavioral health and/or substance use disorders, including trauma-based experiences. Ms. Holt has worked at the Mental Health Association (MHA) in Greensboro since March 2010. She’s a Certified Peer Support Specialist in North Carolina, where she provides one-on-one support for adults dealing with a mental health diagnosis, and facilitates both wellness recovery classes and support groups. She promotes art therapy as a form of self-expression and occasionally offers poetry workshops.
Ms. Holt recently began a full-time Master’s in Social Work program but will continue to work with Youth M.O.V.E. North Carolina and MHA. Her ability to relate with both youth and adults and serve them through experience with knowledge, understanding, and compassion has had quite an impact on the Greensboro community.
My mentor asked me, “Where would I be today if we were never connected”? I replied: In jail, institutionalized, or dead. I went through a lot in my life as it relates to mental health, substance use, and trying to get appropriate services. From my personal experience, it [futures planning] showed me a new way of possibly seeing the future instead of my life in a gang. I thought I was going backwards to criminal actions, but a new perspective, in my own words was put in front of me, giving me a new path. A new light came like a new path in dark woods. Since my involvement in services through North Carolina Families United, I got involved as a co-trainer talking about your experiences to providers as part of the Transition Ready curriculum. I went through leadership and it helped me to make friends. It let me know that there are youth like me and connect with participating on boards.
So where Am I Today?
· I’ve been 10 months sober!!!
· I was connected with Vocational Rehabilitation Services and obtained my certificate to work on Air Condition units, cars, and I received my forklift license;
I’m very involved in my community at the state and local levels. I am a member of YERT Youth Engagement Response Team sponsored by Juvenile Justice Substance Abuse Mental Health Partnership which is local teams across North Carolina working together to deliver effective family centered services and supports for juvenile justice involved youth with substance use mental health challenges or facing issues in both areas. I am a Board member of the North Carolina Mental Health Consumers Organization and a policy-point person for Youth M.O.V.E. North Carolina.
Hi my name is Jessica! Since the age of 16 I have struggled with schizoaffective disorder. I was hospitalized twice once when I was 16 at and the second time at age 19.The first time was when I was diagnosed and put on medication. I had to try different medications until I found two medications that work for me. The challenges I have faced has helped me because I am a better person today now that I know my diagnosis. My medications help me stay focused on my life and the things I want to accomplish. With the help of my mentor through Families United, I obtain my GED in 2010 and I have attended many conferences (such as NAMI-NC and NC Mental Health Consumers Organization) to connect with other people going through mental illness. I am a member of Youth M.O.V.E. North Carolina and continue to enjoy volunteering at a local hospital to keep me busy and spend my time doing positive things. I will be starting beauty school this summer to become a hairstylist.
My name is Andrew I am 21, and I was born right off of the Marine Corps Base of Camp Lejeune. My dad is a Marine and served in the Gulf War, but he and my mother divorced when I was about five. My mom soon met another guy who was also a Marine, but was later dishonorably discharged because of the extreme abuse he put me and my mother through. Things were so bad that when I was seven Child Protective Services (CPS) took me away from my family because of abuse. I spent almost 12 years in foster and group homes, some of which were also very abusive. Growing up in Foster homes was extremely hard for me; I was hospitalized many times, and was moving almost every month and a half. I never had a chance to make friends or get to know my own family. Because of these experiences I was always in trouble in school and was never given the support that I needed so my grades were really bad. After I was in the 9th grade 4 times, I started feeling hopeless and I dropped out of high school, and locked myself away from the world! I put up many walls and it was hard for me to trust the world and the people in it.
Since I aged out of foster care I was connected to North Carolina Families United Inc., and created a Futures Plan with my RENEW Transition Mentoring services and attended the Young Adult Leadership Series. With the support of these services, I opened up and let down the walls that I had up. I have received my High School Diploma, and reconnected with my SSI and Medicaid. The things that always stopped me in the past became the things that not only helped me become who I am today, but made me an advocate for youth that have been and are going through the same things as me. As a representative of Youth M.O.V.E. North Carolina I have spoken to the U.S. Senate, did a testimonial video with national advocacy organizations, and was also was the first young adult to ever serve with a panel of experts on trauma for the National Center for Child Traumatic Stress! I attend my state and local System of Care collaborative meetings as well as other national advocacy events and a North Carolina Families United Board Member. Throughout the state I am a co-trainer on the Transition Ready curriculum where I train other young adults on transition-related issues so they can be better prepared for life as an adult. I have been able to take my past and use it to help me make a difference in the lives of other people!
I am a Trauma Survivor and Depression. High School was very rough for me. I was in and out of fights, constantly suspended. School wasn’t always my first favorite thing on the list. I never had that role model when I was a kid. Abuse, Rape, Neglect, and homelessness were one of the many things that I faced as a teen. I felt alone, felt like nobody had my back. I was on my own. I got involved with NC Families United during my 9th grade year, I felt like it was time for a change. I wanted to be proud in my dad’s eyes to see his baby girl grow up and become successful. NC Families was an amazing experience for me. All the resources and skills that I learned from them still till this day I use faithfully. It helped bring me to my success, high school graduation, being able to talk in front of a room full of people with confidence.
In 2007, I successfully completed NC Families United’s Young Adult Leadership Series and went on to become a member of Youth M.O.V.E. North Carolina. I also agreed to be connected with a RENEW Transition Mentor who supported me with educational and housing supports. In 2008, I used my life experiences to becoming a good friend and helper to a group of teenage girls participating in a leadership program awarded to the Center for Youth, Family, and Community Partnerships at UNC Greensboro by The Women’s Professional Forum of Greensboro. In 2010, I graduated from high school!! Also, with the support of my mentor, I was awarded funding through the Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro to coordinate a talent show for youth that dealt with traumas in their life. I accomplished many things in my life. Today I am a student at Davidson County Community College where I am currently majoring in Psychology. School is awesome to me and I am hoping in the future to graduate with my PH.D. I am Happy, I am Successful, I’m me, and I’m PROUD!
From the moment depression came into my life I started struggling in school, even though I had been an honor student my entire life. There was an immediate decline in grades, but the issues didn’t really start to majorly affect me until high school, when I was close to being kicked out due to absences and less than satisfactory work. It was at this point that I felt like my life was coming to an end. I would spend days upon days doing nothing but sleeping, with little to no hope that things would get better. But when I met my current RENEW transition mentor with North Carolina Families United, and developed my Futures Plan things started to look up.
I learned my rights as a student with disabilities and fought for them in school, as well as started to speak out in the community about youth with mental illness and improving the system. I graduated from high school in 2011 and into my fourth semester at Guilford Technical Community College where I am pursuing a degree in human services with a concentration in mental health services.
Today I am a Board Member of North Carolina Families United, recent graduate of the Youth Leadership Series and youth advisor to the National Secondary Transition Technical Assistance Center. My experience in high school was sad but also an empowering learning experience that helped shape who I am today. I would like to continue to serve on decision making boards and improve mental health services for young adults
Hi my name is Tyler. I’m a survivor and a fighter. Due to multiple mental health diagnosis (including fetal alcohol syndrome), I have been living a fragile life, but I don’t think I’m fragile because my voice is strong. I have been a recipient of member of Youth M.O.V.E.-NC and RENEW Transition Mentoring Services through NC Families United for about 3 years now. As a young adult with lived experience with trauma and mental illness I am working on my own recovery and learning that I can and will make a difference in the arena of children’s mental health.
Goals: I would like to open a shelter or a group home one day
I have transitioned from foster care to living independently and from high school to college. Transitioning was not easy but due to the fact that I had a plan which is called a FUTURE’S PLAN. The plan has helped me greatly. I had goals I set and dates to do them by and it kept me on track. During this transition I had a mentor to guide me. That was very helpful.