Change, Resilience, and The Youth Mental Health Project

A Letter from our Founder, Randi Silverman

Resilience: an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change.*

When my son was very young, well before I knew that he would be diagnosed with anxiety, depression and bipolar disorder, it seemed as though the slightest disappointment or change would rock him to his core. As a young mother, I struggled to understand how to teach him resilience and provide him with a mother’s comfort at the same time. At any given time I felt like a failure as a parent, unable to teach or comfort adequately, and I worried about whether he would ever be able to handle real adversity. How would he learn to adjust to the inevitable changes that occur in adult life when an interruption in routine, such as a holiday break from school, caused him to fall apart?

Why do some children bounce back easily while others struggle to cope with the slightest discomfort? Can resilience be learned and, if so, how can parents help move the process along?

My children are all young adults now and they live fairly independent lives; they take care of themselves, go to school and/or work, pay bills and have relationships, all with little to no help from me. I like to give myself a small bit of credit for doing my best to model how to look for the silver linings and accept change with courage. But in the end, LIFE is the greatest teacher.

Our children learn the way we all do – by making mistakes, facing painful situations, and having a few failures. Sometimes the best thing we can do as parents, other than modeling our own reactions to challenging situations, is to empathize with them and let them feel whatever they need to feel to get through the moment. After all, change allows us to grow and become resilient, which is something we all should embrace. And, change is the one thing in life we can all count on! It’s a hard job, this parenting thing.

Change at The Youth Mental Health Project.

As a young not-for-profit, The Youth Mental Health Project is in the midst of its own set of changes. We are sad to announce that our co-founder and CEO, Wendy Ward, and our Director of Special Projects, Sue Blenke, have both decided to pursue other opportunities. We would like to express our gratitude to both Wendy and Sue for all they have done for the organization over the past two years.

Particularly, we would like to acknowledge Wendy for her service, commitment, and standing contributions to advancing support for youth mental health in this nation. Her leadership at The Youth Mental Health Project has been instrumental in the rapid growth of our organization and we will forever appreciate her hard work and dedication. We hope you will join us in offering our support for both Wendy and Sue and our best wishes for success in their future endeavors.

With change comes growth

and so I am confident that The Youth Mental Health Project will take this as an opportunity to strengthen the organization and the impact we have on families. We have an amazing Board of Directors, dedicated volunteers, and four part-time people who are energized by our work. The work we are doing to empower, educate, and support families around the vitally important issue of youth mental health remains as important as ever. We are at the cusp of making a meaningful and lasting difference for families with the growth of The Parent Support Network, but there is much more work to be done.

The Parent Support Network

This is an exciting and pivotal moment for The Youth Mental Health Project.  We have successfully launched five affiliates of The Parent Support Network in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut.  And we have trained 16 volunteer parents to run support meetings for parents**. In the first 3 months alone we have held 13 parent support meetings in the tri-state area attended by 141 parents. These meetings in local communities provide a safe space for parents to connect about challenges with their and their children’s emotional, mental, or behavioral health.

Yes, parenting is hard, which is why we need to help each other. Every parent deserves the opportunity to find the support they need. But the blame, shame, misunderstanding, and silence around our children’s mental health leaves so many parents feeling isolated and alone. At The Youth Mental Health Project, we dream of a world where The Parent Support Network is available in every community.

We are grateful to you for your past donations, which have helped us build our programs. Will you consider making an end of the year donation to increase our ability to reach more communities?

With your support, we can bring The Parent Support Network to more communities. But we need individuals like you to help us reach more more families in 2019.


Randi Silverman
Founder, Executive Director

*Merriam-Webster Dictionary
**The term “parents” is used to describe any adult caregiver. Including guardians, parents, grandparents, foster or step-parents, of a young person between the ages of 1 and 24.

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