MH Month 2018 - Samantha - Twitter

Meet Samantha, a client in our Intensive Services Program at our Long Beach Clinic. She’s the last of four clients that we are honored to feature during May Mental Health Month. Samantha struggled with severe depression and bullying, but with support, she’s realized her own unique super powers and is building a positive future for herself.

Samantha was severely depressed and lacked self-confidence. She struggled with her grades at school and clashed with her mom at home. She tried to make friends with fellow middle school students, but her friendly attempts were met with bullying. Samantha couldn’t see how anything could ever get better. It didn’t feel like “just a phase” that she’d grow out of eventually.

That was four years ago. Since then, two experiences have empowered Samantha to manage symptoms of depression, and envision and create a brighter future for herself: mental health treatment at The Guidance Center and the LAPD Cadet Leadership Academy.

In 2014, Samantha’s mom, Elizabeth, saw how her daughter was struggling and brought her to The Guidance Center for help. Here, she was paired with therapists and a psychiatrist, who together have supported Samantha through evidence-based treatment models that helped her heal from past trauma and build a set of healthy coping skills.

Then in 2016, Elizabeth heard about the LAPD Cadet Leadership Academy, a 15-week course on life skills taught by experts, and signed Samantha up to participate as another way to help Samantha improve her life. There, she found another group of people who supported her and provided her with tools to succeed. Throughout the course to become a cadet, she was challenged physically and academically. Each time, she rose to the challenge.

Cadet Samantha portrait

Then, after becoming a cadet, she clocked more than 250 volunteer hours, participating in neighborhood clean-ups, passing out food on Thanksgiving, and so much more. Her hard work did not go unnoticed. A year after she graduated from the academy, she was honored as Cadet of the Year.

 Cadet Samantha group award photoSamantha is thriving. One of her therapists, Jennifer Navarro, ASW, explains that Samantha is a perfect example of someone who has faced many difficulties but has overcome them. Her traumatic experiences have taught her to be resilient and strong rather than becoming a barrier to leading a positive life.

Samantha’s doing better in school. She’s confident in her abilities and steps up for things. She has a great group of friends who she helps when they struggle by sharing about the coping skills she learned in therapy.

Her relationship with her mom, who has been her biggest cheerleader through the process, has improved as well. The easy way they giggle and tease each other while sharing about their lives is evidence of that.

A junior in high school, Samantha is excitedly planning what she’ll do during her senior year to set her up to achieve her next goal: going to college. She plans to either study psychology or criminology.

The journey hasn’t been easy, but Samantha doesn’t ever want to stop improving. We’re cheering for you, Samantha!

“Thank you to LAPD Harbor Division and The Guidance Center. Without these two support groups, I’m not sure where I’d be today.” -Samantha