Youth United: Young people have a voice in help program

DWMHAYouth United is a youth-led initiative throughout Wayne County that plays a major role in assisting youth in achieving a youth-driven System of Care. Youth United was founded on the idea that youth involvement and youth voice are necessary to develop solutions to meet the needs of youth and families in Wayne County.
Young people who participate in Youth United activities learn to be socially, mentally and morally capable. They are able to develop their abilities and strengths, along with communicating and collaborating with leaders in Connections Wayn
e County System of Care. Youth United promotes youth involvement by preparing youth to be effective leaders and being the change that they want to see in their communities.
Young people like Jafre Deloatch have gained a lot from being involved with Youth United. She has been involved in juvenile justice, mental health, special education and foster care. Growing up, Jafre faced a lot of challenges and trauma. She was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and psychotic sypmtoms at age 10.
After being diagnosed disorder, Jafre found it difficult to focus and began to get into trouble. She was very defiant, regularly ran away, and got into fights at school because of problems going on at home. She often witnessed domestic violence between her mom and her stepdad and was sexually abused, making it extremely difficult for her to trust people. Jafre was eventually taken away from her mom at age 14 and put into foster care. This put a big strain on their mother-daughter relationship.
After a while she was seblack_youth.jpgnt to Children’s Home of Detroit, a juvenile detention center. While in juvenile, Jafre was always depressed and angry and felt like she was different from everyone else. She often believed she would not succeed in life because of her circumstances, stating, “I had a lot of ups and downs, and it was hard for me to cope with the things that happened to me. It was hard for me to heal.” Her family supported her during her toughest times and made sure she received the help and services she needed.
Jafre learned a lot from the people and staff who cared about her.  Through counseling and building relationships with others that were also receiving treatment, she was given the tools to cope with her mental illness and her anger. These tools also helped her to learn how to express herself and talk about the things that were bothering her.
Today, Jafre is the mother of a one-year-old son, a Youth Advocate with Youth United, and a Youth Peer Support specialist for Black Family Development, Inc. She loves to share her experiences with other youth, help them make better decisions and facilitate training. She is a good listener, a fast learner and is highly motivated.
Youth United is split up into three different regions. The East Region focuses on leadership and training. Youth are able to learn and build their skills while becoming Certified Youth Advocates as part of the Youth Under Construction training series. The Central Region, whose focus is advocacy, encourages youth voices to be heard throughout Connections Wayne County System of Care. They also lead the Youth MBlackYouth.jpg.jpgOVE-Detroit Chapter which is Wayne County’s Youth Advisory Council. This group provides input to System of Care partners and allows youth to share their voices and concerns. The Northwest Region focuses on decreasing stigma associated with youth receiving services. They also educate and spread awareness on some of the major mental illnesses youth face, as well as provide tips on how to assist youth in crisis.
Youth United staff consist of youth ages 14-24 who reside in the Wayne County area. Youth Advocates take an interest in a positive change in their community and the services they are receiving in the System of Care. They have also had past involvement in one of the systems such as juvenile justice, public mental health, child welfare, and/or special education.
Youth Advocates are charged with engaging other youth, promoting youth involvement at the community, state and national levels, participating in System of Care activities, and educating stakeholders through their work in advocacy, training and combating mental health stigma. Youth United is supported by the Detroit Wayne Mental Authority.
If you or anyone you know is in need of assistance please contact the DWMHA 24-Hour Crisis Help Line at 800-241- 4949. Additional support services are available for parents, young people, and everyone in between. Acquire more information at www.dwmha.com To find out more about Youth United outreach efforts or for more information on how to join Youth United please contact Jasmine Boatwright @ 313-344-9099 or email wcyouthunited@gmail. com.

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