Guest post by Jelisa Hudson, 23, a former Florida foster youth who has aged out of the system and has placed priority on her mental health. She currently is helping shape a statewide initiative to reach out to other youth and break the stigma associated with mental illnesses.
I am the oldest of 11 siblings and moved around a lot in foster care. I never really had time to set goals aside for myself because I was so worried that my siblings wouldn’t succeed and I did whatever I had to do to keep them focused.
Because of everything I went through, anger had built up. I had all of this stuff bottled up inside me. I couldn’t sleep, I was anxious, I was really angry, but I didn’t know what to do or where to go for help.
Talking to someone is a really big thing to do, but it can be really hard to make yourself get started and keep going.
When I was younger I went to counseling, but didn’t really trust what they said. I felt I couldn’t trust them back then because to me it seemed like the system had a funny way of listening to us and keeping their word. I just didn’t know who I could really rely on.
I now have a son and am realizing just how important talking to someone really is, not only for me, but also for my son. How I feel and how I handle stress affects him. I want to be a great parent, and that means making sure that I am there for my son and am at my best.
DCF funds many mental health services available for Floridians. Check out resources in your area.
The initiative Jelisa is working on will help connect caregivers, youth, state agencies, providers and communities to better serve children and families struggling with mental health challenges. The work group believes mental health services should be family-driven, youth-guided, community-based, and sensitive to cultural differences. We’re looking for your feedback – what ways can DCF better connect you with resources in your area? How can we break the stigma sometimes associated with mental health?