Bright Young Minds (BYM) is the latest high school behavioral health conference held in the Bay Area. It has succeeded in engaging conversations with youth interested in pursuing work in public behavioral health and primary care. The BYM conferences are proving to be an effective model for engaging youth in relevant, important discussions regarding careers in behavioral health, and the meetings help to set the stage for further engaging students in meaningful behavioral health experiences.
BYM Conference – March 23, 2016
BYM 3 was held March 23rd at Cal State East Bay. As is the tradition, the BYM conferences are hosted on campuses in order to provide students with the exposure to the college environment. Incorporating the learning from two other BYM conferences, the students representing four large East Bay high school districts were able to meet inspirational speakers and mentors, and have experiences that allowed them to challenge stigma, learn new skills, and consider training in a variety of health careers.
Highlights of the day included a keynote from Faces of the Future Coalition Founding Director, Thomas Magana, M.D., who used his own lived experience to inspire students to both achieve and serve their communities through careers in health care. Students also had an opportunity to meet several of the 30 behavioral health professionals who volunteered a part of their morning to participate in speed mentoring. The mentors represented a large number of careers from counseling, psychology and social work, to administration, psychiatry, firefighting, and primary care. During lunch, students were able to meet about a dozen community agencies and programs at tables, many of which had interactive and engaging activities. After lunch, students were able to choose two workshops among such topics as CPR Training, Mental Health Services in Action, Youth Development Grounded Counseling Services for Boys and Young Men of Color, Careers in Substance Use Disorder Treatment, and How to Get to College.
Throughout the day, students demonstrated focused interest and engagement, with many youth asking how they might become more involved in learning about behavioral health care. An important next step to further develop and benefit from this interest is creating opportunities for students to have ongoing learning experiences and skill development in behavioral health. To meet this need, The Greater Bay Area Mental Health and Education Workforce Collaborative has partnered with Oakland Unified School District and other Bay Area County and community health care organizations to discover how to best create internships and employment positions for youth. Be a part of this innovative effort!
Major funding for Bright Young Minds 3 was provided through an Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development(OSHPD) Mini-Grant.
Students from high school behavioral health pipeline courses throughout the Bay Area filled the Huey P. Newton Student Lounge at Laney College March 18th for the Bright Young Minds Behavioral Health Career Pathways Conference.
The conference, the first of its kind in the Bay Area, attracted almost 200 students from high schools in Alameda, Contra Costa, San Francisco and San Mateo Counties. The diverse group of students are all actively engaged in some form of behavioral health programming at their high school, and attending the BYM Conference was another opportunity to meet a variety of professionals in the behavioral health field and explore BH career options.
Richard Carillo,PhD from La Clinica de La Raza provided an inspiring and energetic introduction to the conference by sharing how he used his life experience to develop a career and life dedicated to improving lives through his work as a psychologist, educator and father. Alameda County Health Care Services Agency Director Alex Briscoe shared his passion for the work of reducing health disparities in diverse communities and spoke to the importance of the conference attendees entering the behavioral health field. The students also actively participated in a stigma busting labels game as well as an exercise to learn about substance use disorders treatment issues and careers.
The later morning was filled with an expert panel of providers in the field speaking to how they created their own path to success from college to behavioral health career, and the afternoon had areas of topical interest, including by not limited to, making the transition from high school to college, culturally-informed healing practices, fighting stigma as behavioral health providers, establishing career pathways and careers in substance use disorder treatment. Teachers and advisors were also able to participate in a separate workshop provided by Gustavo Loera, Ed.D., a nationally recognized consultant and educator on behavioral health career pipelines.
Students had additional opportunities during lunch to meet with providers and educational institutions in the Bay Area during break time tabling. Being able to ask questions at the tables provided many moments for individualized modeling and consultation.
The level of engagement and interest among all was inspiring. The evaluation input is indicating the value in a conference that creates opportunities for targeted education, mentoring and inspiration for a diverse and varied group of students eager to explore the field of behavioral health.
Many organizations and individuals assisted with this effort. Sponsors included the following: