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Foster Youth, Resilience, & Mental Health Post-Pandemic

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After a year of managing life as a young person during a pandemic, how checked-out are you? Myles Bess from Above the Noise hosts a panel of Bay Area youth and their advocates to address the need for mental health resources and solutions to get through the next year. For many teens — especially foster youth and others with limited support systems — the stress of readjusting to a range of social experiences, uncertainty about school and activities, mourning lost milestones, and challenges accessing needed mental healthcare will require immense resilience. Through a range of lived experience and a data-dive into statistics about the mental health toll of the recently extended isolation among young people and effective responses, the panel highlights tools to become your own best advocate and seek the support you need.

About the Host 

Myles Bess, Host Above the Noise 

Myles Bess is a host and producer on the YouTube series “Above the Noise.” He works with PBS and KQED to make comprehensive videos that break down relevant topics for a Gen Z audience. A graduate of San Francisco State University’s Broadcast and Electronic Communication Arts program, Myles loves to learn new things and engage with young people in meaningful ways! 

About the Panelists 

Noel Anaya, Media Maker  

Noel Anaya is a public speaker who focuses most of his energy to create awareness for people in the community. He uses multimedia as a medium to produce quality storytelling primarily about foster care and his own life. His Story “After 20 Years, Young Man Leaves Foster Care On His Own Terms,” as seen on NPR, won an Edward Murrow award, a Third Coast Festival award and an NYF Radio Award. Noel plans to receive a BA in Media Communications and wishes to keep on telling stories on social topics. 

Roxie C, Co-Chair Larkin Street Youth Advisory Board  

Roxie C. (they/them) is the co-chair of Larkin’s Youth Advisory Board and is passionate about advocacy, creating consciousness and community organizing. Roxie (they/them) has lived experience traveling on foot across the country accessing different services and resources to uplift their situation. Roxie is dedicated to advocating for more mental health and harm reduction programs for youth experiencing homelessness. Lastly, Roxie hopes to utilize their voice to represent the “homeless traveling community” to break stereotypes and bring more representation to leadership roles. 

Zemaye Jacobs, KQED Marketing and Communications Intern  

Zemaye Jacobs (she/her/queen) a.k.a Slay-Z; driven by advocacy and being a catalyst for change I am passionate about current and former foster youth livelihood. I am an emancipated former  foster youth; I serve as Co-chair on the youth advisory board at Larkin Street Youth Services. Currently interning at KQED in order to amplify and display intergenerational conversations. Double majored in Communication and Africana Studies at San Francisco State University during my time at San Francisco State I served as Guardian Scholars Ambassador and as the first Vice President of Social Justice and Equity for Associated Students. I want to continue my work with uplifting the stories that inspire, transform, and reimagine how our society views foster youth. Servant leader first, I will always serve the underserved communities and give back to those who paved the way for me.  

Dr. Sonja Lenz-Rashid, LCSW, Professor of Social Work at San Francisco State University 

Dr. Sonja Lenz-Rashid, LCSW, is a Professor of Social Work at San Francisco State University and a Co-founder of the SF State Guardian Scholars Program (GSP). GSP serves 100 current/former foster care youth on campus. She has studied the services and outcomes of former foster care youth at the national, state and Bay Area levels. Her research and publications have provided valuable feedback to child welfare administrators, legislators, and program developers about how best to serve these disenfranchised young people using evidence-based practice. She is also a consultant with many Bay Area non-profits supporting youth being served by the foster care, juvenile justice, and behavioral health systems.  

Mimi Mier-Rosales, Chair Youth Advisory Board, at Mental Health Association of San Francisco 

My name is Mimi, and I am a queer Latinx artist and advocate who is a native to San Francisco. I am 19 years old and currently work with the Mental Health Association of San Francisco (MHASF). Mental health has always been important to me and prevalent in my life, amongst myself and family members. I’ve always been passionate about advocacy and activism, and my mental health has only brought me closer to that. While navigating my own mental health challenges, I have also learned how to help others. Now, I am here to speak my truth and help others speak theirs.  

Naomi Muzac, Masters Graduate, Social Work  

Naomi Muzac just graduated from San Francisco State University with a Masters in Social Work. Naomi is a former foster youth and has represented her peers in state-wide conferences for foster youth. Naomi is currently a social worker at Willie Brown Middle School in Bayview Hunters Point in San Francisco. Naomi has done work in various areas of the field, throughout her time as a student, including work focused on the college success of current and former foster youth. After graduating with her MSW, Naomi plans to become a therapist serving survivors of sexual violence and current and former foster youth. 

David Simpson, Co-Founder and Director of the A Home Within-CASA Therapy Project 

David Simpson is the co-founder and Director of the A Home Within-CASA Therapy Project. David has extensive non-profit governance experience in the field of youth development and education and has consulted to a range of non-profits in this field. Early in his career, David was, among other things, an investigative reporter, co-founder of a green energy consulting firm and founder and president of an internet communications company. He holds a BA from Williams College, an MA from Oxford University, and a JD from Golden Gate University.  

About the Featured Interview

Christine M. Crawford, M.D., MPH, Associate Medical Director, NAMI 

Dr. Christine Crawford is an adult and child psychiatrist based in Boston and is an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Boston University School of Medicine. Dr. Crawford has worked in various outpatient community settings where she has provided psychiatric care to a number of individuals from diverse backgrounds. Dr. Crawford has a strong passion for using education as a tool for community outreach and engagement. She has authored multiple book chapters on mental health disparities and sociocultural issues within psychiatry as well as made appearances on a number of media outlets where she has discussed various topics within mental health.

Related Resources

About The Tour

The Well Beings Tour is making its way to cities across the country, hosted in partnership with local public media stations to present impactful experiences that connect audiences with mental health resources in the local community, strengthen community connections, and destigmatize mental health challenges. The Tour features moderated public discussions that share information and volunteer opportunities from local community and national organizations. The Tour is fostering new conversations about mental health through these local events — live or virtual, based on local public health conditions.

All Events

    WellBeings.org is a mental health resource, not a crisis or suicide response website. If you are in crisis, or experiencing thoughts of suicide, please text the Crisis Text Line (text HELLO to 741741), or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Both services are free and available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.