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    County's First Mental Health-Focused Drop-In Center

    01/14/2019
    1:32 PM

    In collaboration with Bernalillo County, the City of Albuquerque Department of Family & Community Services, local high school students and a wide array of community partners, New Day Youth and Family Services will open Bernalillo County’s first – and only – drop-in center focused on mental/behavioral health support and prevention. Media are invited to the Open House and Press Conference on January 14th, 2019 from 10:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. 

    Named by young people, Youth BLAST (“Building Lives Around Self Truth”) will provide multiple avenues to support belonging and building community for young people, ages 16-22, who are seeking a sense of connection and who may lack supportive, positive peers and adult role models. Connection and belonging are vital developmental needs for young people’s positive mental and behavioral health and for their meaningful integration into community.

    The Youth BLAST Drop-In Center is a collaborative partnership with more than 14 nonprofit agencies, local alternative charter high school students, Bernalillo County’s Behavioral Health Initiative and the City of Albuquerque.

    Together, these groups will provide comprehensive, holistic services with a focus on developing community and a safe, inclusive space for youth to experience belonging. Young people will design and implement leadership groups and outreach activities, with paid Peer Advocates receiving training to support young people with mental/behavioral health needs. Youth BLAST will also offer services and supports, such as legal, academic and employment coaching, physical health screenings, mental/behavioral health support, crisis intervention and more. Youth BLAST will collect and distribute food, clothing and hygiene products for basic needs as well as school supplies.

    “Our city’s teens and youth are extremely vulnerable if they don’t have a safe place to live or even to just spend time when they are out of school and no one is home,” said Steve Johnson New Day Youth and Family Services’ Executive Director. “Plus, Albuquerque has a large number of young people who are not enrolled in school and are not working. We are very interested in connecting with them. And we want to minimize any barriers, so -no paperwork or referrals to enter.”

    Youth BLAST will be located at the Johnny Tapia Community Center at Wells Park 500 Mountain Rd NW, Albuquerque, NM 87102, and will be open Wednesdays through Fridays 12 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.

    All of Youth BLAST’s services are designed to be low-barrier and to reduce reluctance to give out personal information while providing what young people who may be experiencing homelessness or who are at risk or living in poverty need to survive and to take care of basic health needs. If youth request more information or services New Day will provide referrals and connections to additional services, such as shelter, housing, school re-entry, counseling, medical care, etc.

    “[Young people experiencing homelessness or a mental health condition] are extremely vulnerable to abuse and exploitation, and yet, they are often turned away from every agency that could help them,” said Bette Fleishman, Executive Director at Pegasus Legal Services for Children, one of the 14 agencies partnering on Youth BLAST to provide for as many needs as possible under one roof. “These youth are in a legal limbo – they cannot get help without identity documents, but they cannot get identity documents without help. Albuquerque needs a place these youth can go with no conditions or pre-requisites; a place that welcomes them with open arms as they are, builds their trust, and offers help when and how the youth request it."

    “Youth BLAST is really about being a place that feels safe and inclusive for youth, with no requirements, where they can come, be seen and accepted for who they are, authentically feel a sense of belonging, establish positive connections with others, and opportunities for them to thrive” said Ali Moore, New Day’s Youth BLAST Drop-In Center Director. “We’re going to keep it low-barrier, so that young people who may be distrustful of adults and of ‘programs’ feel more comfortable getting the things they need, no strings attached. And, if they ask and desire it, we’ll refer them to other services that they need – but only when they ask and are ready.”

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