Author: Dara Yah’Ya, Youth Haven Manager
When Katrice received the invitation phone call from Youth Haven to attend the Holiday Wellness Check-in, she responded, “I need it.” She explained that she hadn’t been out of bed for a day and a half; her mother had died the day before. Katrice, 22 years old and born with HIV, had to bury her mother this December. We did not probe for the details of her mother’s death, but we know that she had been living with HIV for over 25 years. Throughout Katrice’s upbringing, she often had to care for herself and her mother. Even more, her mother’s mental health diagnosis contributed to a roller coaster mother-daughter relationship. Still, she loved her mother fiercely and wanted to send her off right. But first she had to get her own wellness under control. She hadn’t been eating nor taking her medicine. She said that she was feeling like it was all too much.
Youth Haven tapped into its network of partners and walked step-by-step with Katrice in applying for burial assistance, receiving pastoral counseling, and seeking out grief counseling. In the end, Katrice held a memorial service and repast complete with food, for approximately 25-30 of her mother’s family members, friends, and co-workers. She sent her mother off with love.
Most importantly, Katrice had a community to embrace her and address her need for care. She received one-on-one counseling discussing healthy ways to process grief, the impact of stress and depression on her eating, and the importance of staying adherent to her medication regiment. She received lots of hugs and encouragement to attend the peer workout groups as a strategy to “stay-up out of depression, keep stress low, and keep pushing forward.”
Last year, the LSS/NCA Youth Development & Wellness (YDW) program walked with over 100 youth as they combated the stigma and challenges associated with living with HIV/AIDS and mental health concerns. This is only one of their stories.
YDW is not funded by government contracts and offers free support to these youth through your contributions. Sponsor a youth today.