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A critical resource for students: HYSB

The Lakeville Journal Editorial

The Housatonic Youth Service Bureau (HYSB) was founded 30 years ago, in 1992, to support Region One youth between the ages of 4 and 18 in the goal of attaining strong emotional health. That anniversary is a meaningful milestone for this crucially important agency, and for all the towns it serves. Over those years, the challenges of childhood and teen life have changed and expanded exponentially, in many ways making it harder year by year for adults to understand fully the way young people process the world around them.

Think of what those years of growth were like before the internet, which many of our readers experienced and found hard enough to manage. But in the era of social media, TikTok and Twitter? So many influencers seem to live just beyond an invisible wall of total confidence. Their presentation of beauty and unending fun is carefully managed, unrealistic and an utterly unattainable model of youth that can create depression and increased anxiety in children and teens, who expect the same of themselves at all times.

While there’s lots of fun to be had in childhood and the teen years, for sure, this can also be a very tough time in life, with metabolic changes contributing to the difficulty of understanding one’s thoughts and feelings in relation to their own individual growth and change. The help available from the counselors at HYSB can make all the difference to young people in finding tools to manage their years of growth and maturing, and in making good decisions for their present and future. These counselors become aware of those who need support through the public schools: the teachers and administrators, and the students themselves can reach out directly to HYSB for help as well. What an invaluable resource in a rural area, where access to full mental health services is not as varied as in many urban areas. But the fact that these services are free to those who use them makes the work of the HYSB all the more impressive.

Knowing that as many as 150 clients a week look for sessions with the professionals on staff at HYSB, it’s understandable that to maintain a certain quality of care for Region One students, the bureau is now looking for additional funding from the six towns it serves in the Northwest Corner. There are not only individual sessions that need to happen, but also youth programs that provide outreach within each school population. The programs include Second Step for elementary and middle school students, Empowering Young Women at Housatonic Valley Regional High School, a Social Skills Group, a Girls Group and a Summer Internship Program. The programs are evaluated and modified according to the needs of each school each year, as those needs can change dramatically in a matter of months. COVID proved that from 2020 on.

Each town’s students benefit from the HYSB services every year, creating more open communication and access to tools that will make them feel more productive and positive during their school years. It makes sense for the town governments to consider increasing their financial support (see article by Hunter O. Lyle in last week’s Lakeville Journal) in order to recognize the value of the services HYSB provides. And consider making a contribution in honor of their 30th anniversary. Right now, more students than ever are reaching out for help in finding counseling and enrichment programs, as they are still recovering from the hard years of COVID restrictions yet are trying to take full advantage of all that Region One schools offer to help students thrive. Go to www.hysb.org for more.

HYSB Mission

HYSB exists to strengthen the emotional health of youth and families by providing free behavioral health services and empowerment programs in partnership with our public schools, local organizations, donors and volunteers in the Northwest Corner community.

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