Last week, the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors approved an ordinance establishing the Sacramento County Behavioral Health
Youth Advisory Board (YAB); the next step in an ongoing effort to promote the engagement of youth in developing programs that affect the behavioral health and wellbeing of youth in Sacramento County.
“If we want to create successful programs that meet the needs of our youth we need the youth perspective to help guide the process,” says Ryan Quist, Sacramento County Behavioral Health Director. “The creation of YAB provides an empowering and supportive space for youth to advocate for youth-friendly, culturally relevant programs.”
As experts in their own lived experience, youth can offer the County a unique perspective to make County programs more effective and responsive to their needs. The YAB will serve as a diverse and empowered group of youth who will advise policy leaders on how to create a “youth behavioral health friendly” community, provide direct input and feedback regarding behavior health and wellness needs of youth, and create a network of trusted peer-to-peer messengers around youth behavioral health and well-being.
“Youth engagement in the creation of programs has been missing in our community,” says Eboni Stallworth, California Youth Empowerment Network Board Member and youth mental health advocate. “This board creates a foundation for current and future youth to have their voices heard.”
The YAB will be composed of 10 Sacramento County youth, ages 14-24, two youth representatives from each district. Once empaneled, the board will be trained and supported to work collaboratively with County Mental Health Board and the Youth Commission regarding programs and policies related to youth mental health.