I’m so much more full of peace now
PJ entered the Boston Project backyard ready to make friends and learn, but was reserved and self conscious about talking in the group. Besides the challenge of adjusting to a summer of COVID restrictions, she was upfront about working to get on the right path after hanging out with the wrong crowd.
PJ and The Mental Health Ambassadors team of six quickly grew close. Together, they worked to decrease the stigma, educate their peers and community, and create innovative spaces for self care and healing. PJ reflects how much it mattered. “Everyone on our team struggled with mental health at some point. We would tell our stories and how we dealt with it. That really helped. One of the highlights was Real Talk – a monthly, youth-led brave space and mental health conversation. We all got to open up to each other and it was special.”
PJ’s team accomplished a lot, from administering a mental health survey, to conducting a power analysis that will inform future strategies, to practicing mindfulness. They concluded, “If you don’t care for yourself, who will? It has to start with you understanding and using coping strategies yourself. Then you have to be able to teach others what you learn.” They focused on the power of poetry, collaborated with local poets, and then led a workshop for 24 peers.
Over the course of her summer job PJ participated in 27 hours of job and college readiness trainings. “I remember Ms. Cicily (the guest college advisor) told me something that changed my whole future career. I told her I was good at math but my future career was more focused on biology. She suggested I pick something that’s related to math if I like it. And now I’m really excited about architecture and that’s what I want to do!”
At the end of the summer, PJ, was now confident to speak in the group and eager to share this: “Now I’m more open to talk about mental health, and I’m more equipped to do that. I can talk about depression, anxiety, stress. This job changed my lifestyle. I’m so much more full of peace now. I’m not angry and I can let stuff go… so that will help me in everything. I feel like a lot of us teenagers go through it and people don’t even realize it. I have ideas of how we can get different types of kids together.” Can you see PJ’s vision for teen mental health? Let’s support her and all the MHA’s in their endeavors!