State of Mind with Debra Sloss
State of Mind with Debra Sloss
Empowering Youth: Teen-Led Mental Health Support

Episode 64: According to the U.S. Surgeon General Vivek H Murthy, “a youth mental health crisis is already brewing.” Startling statistics from the CDC reveal that more than one in five young people will grapple with serious mental illnesses at some point in their lives. Changes in how we respond to this growing problem are needed and youth are stepping up to be that change! In this episode, teens came together to speak about mental health and share their perspective on this rising crisis. This episode is made for teens and by teens to share how they can help support their peers through mental health education, community building, and advocacy.

 Join 17-year-old guest host and mental health advocate Niku Sedarat as she leads this important conversation with 4 teen guests from different Monterey Bay area high schools. Together, they discuss the needs they see in their respective schools and talk about how teen-driven mental health advocacy can take many forms–from informing oneself about mental health to lending a compassionate shoulder to a friend to engaging in mental health clubs and programs.

Tune in to learn from these four passionate youth guests who represent the power of youth to enhance the well-being of their communities: Marley Miller from Salina High, Melissa Macias from North Monterey High School, Oscar Alvarez-Delgado from Pajaro Valley High School, and Devin Bloom from Scotts Valley High.

Producer & Host: Debra Sloss, LMFT
Guest Host: Niku Sedarat
Guests: Marley Miller, Melissa Macias, Oscar Alvarez-Delgado & Devin Bloom

Broadcasts: 3/3/24 & 3/11/24

Special thanks to Jeanne Baldzikowski for audio production, Patrice Vecchione for story coaching and Pati Palmer for transcriptions. And thanks to acoustic guitarist Adrian Legg for composing, performing, and donating the use of our theme music.

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If you or someone you know has topic ideas for future shows or a story of mental health recovery to share, please email

In Your Voice are short segments on the show where a listener gets to share their experience of the topic we are discussing. You can call us at 831- 824-4324 and leave a 1-3 minute message about: a mental health experience you’ve had, something that has contributed to your mental health recovery journey, or share a resource that has helped you. Alternatively, you can make a 1-3 minute audio recording right on your phone and email that file to Your voice may just become part of one of our future shows!

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* Indicates a Monterey Bay Area Resource

Youth Mental Health Organizations
Unité: Mental Health for the Youth by the Youth – Includes psychoeducational blogs/infographics and mental health resources (hotlines, support groups, books, podcasts, etc.)

*AIM Youth Mental Health Research Labs & AIM Youth Mental Health – Organization helping  youth to learn about mental health and speak to other youth to open the conversation about mental health struggles. Program participation offers education in youth mental health that aims to be enjoyable and rewarding, while also earning community service hours.

*Santa Cruz County Youth Mental Health Leadership CouncilA youth leadership group focused on breaking the stigmas that surround mental health issues, increasing access to mental health resources for youth across the county, and promoting holistic wellness practices for all. Its mission is to empower youth and their families with the tools they need to create healthy homes and lead happy lives together, and contribute to a more equitable, cooperative and thriving community.

SafeSpace – A youth-led mental health-focused organization that empowers young people to engage openly with their local schools and communities.

Other Mental Health Organizations
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) – Part of the lead federal agency for research on mental disorders. NIMH is one of the 27 Institutes and Centers that make up the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the largest biomedical research agency in the world.

National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI) – The nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness. NAMI Resources Specific for Teens

American Psychological Association’s Psych Learning Curve – A website where educators, students, parents, activists and psychologists can explore the latest in psychology education and education in psychology

Let’s Talk: Your Mental Health (Actually) Matters by guest host Niku Sedarat (2023) A psychoeducational book written for youth by youth. This will be a bumpy ride. One filled with joy, tears, sadness, and everything and anything in between. But, it is most definitely a ride worth taking.”

The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz –This book may serve as a spiritual guidebook for those going through a rough time and need a more eye-opening way of thinking to move forward.

Unity Mental Health Podcast – Takes a deep dive into the multifaceted, long, and (sometimes) rocky mental health journey. It aims to build and enhance mental health education and awareness in the greater community.

Jay Shetty’s “On Purpose” Podcast – This podcast focuses on a lot of mental health topics ranging from scientific knowledge to stories, and can help if you need to find some guidance or a relatable story.

I Am- Daily Affirmations – Daily positive mental health quotes, sent right to your phone to uplift you throughout your day as frequently as you’d like!

Headspace – Daily meditation app, that might makes every day a little bit easier, with support for more focus and productivity,

Other Resources Suggested by Guests
Journaling – Both Oscar and Devin highly recommend journaling. Oscar says this is something that allows him to keep up with himself and see how he is feeling on a certain day or time.

Going to the Gym Oscar recommends this to help reduce stress and anxiety

Listening to Music – Oscar finds listening to music helps him with relax, focus and access his creativity.

* Youth Mental Health First Aid Training for Adults – Currently there are not enough available, qualified clinicians able to provide therapy to children and teens experiencing mental health challenges. To bridge this gap, “Youth Mental Health First Aid Certification” is being offered by a number of organizations for caring adults – parents, teachers, counselors, first responders, health care providers, coaches…you. The training introduces common mental health challenges for youth and teaches a five-step action plan for how to help young people in both crisis and non-crisis situations; among the topics covered are anxiety, depression, substance use, disorders in which psychosis may occur, disruptive behavior disorders including ADHD and eating disorders.

Teen Crisis Support (24 hours a day)


General Counseling Support
*Family Service Agency (FSA) of the Central Coast is a dedicated underwriter of State of Mind. FSA provides resources, support, and counseling services to adults and children. FSA believes in the power and potential of people of all ages and backgrounds to discover their own creative solutions and welcomes people of diverse cultures, genders, sexual orientations, ages, faiths, socio–economic backgrounds.  FSA Counseling Offices offer Medi–Cal, Medicare, and low–cost, sliding scale services in both downtown Santa Cruz and Soquel.
831–423–9444 x200 and in Soquel 831–346–6767 x200.

*Shine a Light Counseling Center – Offering quality, affordable counseling at offices in Santa Cruz, Watsonville and Monterey. The center provides individual, family, couple and group counseling, including men’s groups.
Phone: 831-996-1222

* Indicates a Monterey Bay Area Resource