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Summer 2013, Volume 21, Number 3

Healing Relationships

Lacy Kendrick Burk, M.S., sees the challenges of young people every day in her work as executive director of Youth M.O.V.E. (Motivating Others Through Voices of Experience) National, a youth-led organization that unites the voices of people with lived experience in the mental health, juvenile justice, education, and child welfare systems and works to improve services and systems to promote positive growth and development. The organization, which has received SAMHSA funding, supports youth empowerment and identifies how youth peer support and policy development can address young people's needs and challenges as they reach adulthood.

It's not uncommon to feel scared and completely alone, Ms. Kendrick Burk told participants at SAMHSA's May 7 press briefing. It also isn't easy to live with mental health challenges while trying to survive, get a job, and find a place to live. Ms. Kendrick Burk knows because she had that lived experience.

"I was involved with the child welfare and the mental health systems, and I continue to receive mental health services today," said Ms. Kendrick Burk, explaining that at 15 she was placed in foster care with five younger siblings. "What the world didn't know was that, on the inside, I was reeling from the effects of trauma." That trauma led to mental health challenges and alcoholism. It also affected her college schoolwork, employment, and relationships.

Because she could count on help from her foster parents, Ms. Kendrick Burk was reassured that she would have support when she needed it, that she could trust and open up to others, and that she wouldn't have to go through her struggles alone. "The connections are what saved my life," she said. "These are the people I can call … and they are there to say, 'I understand. I've been there too.'"

Return to "Raising Awareness of Children's Mental Health"

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