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Giving Youth a Voice: Mental Health in Fairfax County

May 17, 2024
Children and Teens / Mental Health

When it comes to deciding how mental health services are provided to youth, who can better shape effective policy than young people themselves?

That’s the approach JSSA and Healthy Minds Fairfax took in creating the Youth Advisory Council in Northern Virginia. This group of young people, ages 14 to 22, meets and collaborates with policy makers and other community partners to inform the development and administration of behavioral health services for their peers.

“We believe young people deserve to be equal partners in creating change.” said Tera German, Director of Behavioral Health Support at JSSA. “These young people have their own lived experience that should be explored to inform how we work in the human service field.”

Individuals on the Youth Advisory Council participate in routine meetings and training and engage in advocacy events in the community. They are coached on how to use their personal experiences in foster care, the juvenile justice system, mental/behavioral health programs, or homeless services to promote positive change in the community.

“We can see the statistics and look on a page and know that there’s a youth mental health crisis right now, but really hearing individuals share their experiences brings a different element to it,” said Madison Stewart-Boldin, JSSA’s Youth Development Coordinator. “I would love for the young people to continue to build relationships with community partners and really be a resource for the community.”

Interested in applying for the Youth Advisory Council? Email us at


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