YMHLC member spotlight: Savannah Frye

MHA Admin

Tue, 03/21/2023 – 09:41

The 2022-2023 Mental Health America Young Mental Health Leaders Council (YMHLC) represents young leaders from across the U.S. who have created programs and initiatives that fill gaps in traditional mental health services in their communities. This year’s cohort is working to address mental health across many areas including education, housing, foster care, addiction recovery, and state-level policy.

Over the next several weeks, get to know the 10 amazing individuals using their lived experience and youth perspective to make big differences in the lives of those around them.

Name: Savannah Frye 
Pronouns: she/her/hers 
Location: Tysons, Virginia 
Leadership and other positions: Northern Virginia Regional Coordinator for Peer Recovery Specialists and Family Support Partners

Savannah Frye in graduation cap and gown  
Photo submitted by Savannah Frye

Why did you want to join the YMHLC?

I was looking for and found a space where we all can be our authentic selves and talk about more than surface-level subjects. I also wanted to join the YMHLC to learn from and be inspired by my fellow advocates. I have learned about all the amazing initiatives my fellow members are spearheading and am rejuvenated by the passion and compassion behind them.

Tell us about your work and interests.

I am interested in advocacy and education on the role of peer recovery specialists and family support partners in our behavioral health system. My other passions include work on barrier crimes, crime reform and related legislative advocacy, increasing knowledge and funding for harm reduction methods, funding and advocating for youth support school programs to combat rising youth mental health and substance use challenges, and local governments and community service boards utilizing peers.

What is the biggest lesson you have learned from other YMHLC members?

Each member plays different roles in each of our lives, and, oftentimes, we base our worth off the progress that we are making in our advocacy and professional efforts. This council has been an opportunity for me to recognize that while we are all doing amazing things in our advocacy sphere, we are all still people who have batteries that need to be recharged. The importance of self-care cannot be understated in advocacy work.

What are your mental health advocacy goals?

My goals include significantly reducing barrier crimes for peer support employment, creating peer programs, and offering peer certification trainings in school and jail-based settings. In addition, I am advocating for increasing the Medicaid reimbursement rate for peer services. In Virginia, I’d like to see the creation of a peer respite center and a career ladder for peers and family support partners.

Savannah in sunglasses in front of a brick wall covered in colorful chewing gum  
Photo submitted by Savannah Frye

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Author: MHA Admin