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'Everyone heals in their own way': Youth Guidance Kansas City helps break mental health stigma among students

Posted: 10:33 AM, May 14, 2024
Updated: 2024-05-14 12:29:28-04
Jayvion Henderson
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Editor's Note: This story is part of a series of stories, "Are You OK?" from KSHB 41 News and the KSHB 41 Community Advisory Board during Mental Health Awareness Month. Additional mental health resources are available in Kansas and Missouri. Help is always available by dialing 988.

Youth Guidance Kansas City works with over 700 metro area students by empowering them through school-based group counseling.

Youth Guidance held a mental health summit with participating middle and high school students on May 3 to celebrate its 100 years of work in the community; its goal is to give students the resources to combat mental health issues and transfer those skills into adulthood.

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“High school and middle school students are at a very unique point in their lives when they’re trying to figure out who they are, what they like, what they don’t like, and everything in between," said Brianna Butler, a counselor with Youth Guidance. "So, just having this space to self discover, and then also work on the mental health, whether it be depression, anxiety, PTSD or things like that. It’s amazing that they just have the education and the resources.”

At school, counselors lead different therapy groups for boys and girls.

Scout Easterwood is a seventh-grader at Center Middle School, she participates in Youth Guidance's group for girls called Working on Womanhood (WOW).

Scout Easterwood
Scout Easterwood

“WOW has helped me prioritize my mental health and make sure that I feel safe at school, I feel safe at home," Scout said. "Basically making sure that I’m putting myself first, instead of what I normally do is putting other people first.”

Jayvion Henderson is a sophomore at Ruskin High School. He was hesitant about therapy before joining Youth Guidance's group for boys called Becoming a Man (BAM).

“I’ll be honest, back in seventh grade when COVID hit and everything, I wasn’t the happiest person," he said. "And for the longest time, I believed that therapy wasn’t really for everyone.”

“I think BAM definitely helps me be a lot more outspoken and just being able to speak for what I personally believe in," he continued.

Youth Guidance Executive Director Garrett Webster said the summit was held to celebrate the students who have participated in WOW or BAM this school year.

“Our goal is really to help with our students, to help students make healthy, good decisions, to create good behaviors that will impact not only their grades but their home life and their school life," he said.

Webster said 60% of participants in the program have reported a decline in their depression.