May is Mental Health Awareness Month and we are excited to introduce you to a member of the Guild staff who works as a Case Manager on Guild’s Youth Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) Services team. The Youth ACT team helps individuals ages 15-20 living with mental illness find success in education, employment, and community living.
Briana Russell is a case manager on the Youth ACT team consisting of mental health professionals, nurses, psychiatrists, and peer & educational specialists working towards a common goal of keeping clients functioning in the community for extended periods while promoting personal development. Briana shares that her role as a case manager is “essential for youth in the community as most of them are newly experiencing symptoms.” The mental health care system is filled with barriers. Briana tells us that her job is to “provide support and community resources for clients and their families, coordinate services, connect with other professionals working with the client, and provide psychoeducation and support for mental illness and chemical dependency.”
Briana has been active with many Twin Cities non-profit organizations from a young age herself. She began volunteering when she was 16 “to promote connectedness and positive change” and learned about Guild through her work in the community. When given a chance, Briana “jumped at the chance to provide services on an ACT team.”
Working in the mental health field can be difficult. Briana says that “the most challenging thing about my job was accepting that problems don’t have easy fixes or immediate solutions.” She also realizes that “some issues can never be fully resolved but working in this field has allowed me to see how much acceptance and forgiveness can transform situations.”
Education is a key to being a strong advocate. When it comes to mental health, Briana reminds us that it is vital to recognize that “mental and emotional pain is relatively common but is only one piece that doesn’t define the entirety of a person. Mental illness should be viewed in the same perspective as any chronic condition – it varies in severity and duration and requires intervention to decrease symptoms and improve functioning.”
When asked what keeps her coming back to work every day, Briana highlights passion and motivation: “I’m passionate about working with the community and making connections with people. My volunteer experiences taught me about the power of teamwork, compassion, and kindness. My motivation comes from overcoming my past trauma and utilizing lessons learned to promote positivity and connectedness around me.”
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