When Jayla* was first referred to HCN, she was just 12 years old. The San Francisco tween had low self-esteem and physical health issues. Her mother and school social worker knew she needed support. Raised by a single mom, Jayla craved a support system. Her siblings were much older and her mom, Larissa*, knew that her baby needed more help than she could give. Like any parent, Larissa really wanted her daughter to get help so she wouldn’t have to go through the same experiences or hardships she had. In the hopes that Jayla wouldn’t suffer silently over the common traumas they faced, Larissa brought her to the Ma’at program at HCN.
The pandemic presented new opportunities and challenges. A whole year of teletherapy afforded more visibility into her home life, but Jayla also started to react to a prolonged period without interacting with peers. After nearly six months of pandemic isolation, she became less engaged and less verbal. She was reluctant to connect, often not showing her face on camera during teletherapy sessions. But, when restrictions lifted, her enthusiasm and social connections did too. During in-person sessions, she opened up about the pressure to do well in school and fights with her mom. Soon, Jayla and her mother were working with the HCN therapist to improve their relationships with each other and themselves.
A year later, it was clear that HCN had made a lasting impact on the mother-daughter duo. In a holistic way, they both have grown. In creating a stronger relationship, they’re better able to communicate their needs and feelings. And rather than be reactive, Larissa is becoming more patient and balanced with the ways she offers discipline and support to her growing teen.
HCN offers so much more than a list of resources. It is a community that focuses on everything a child and their family need to thrive. Whether that’s family therapy, an attentive ear, or simple communications tips for navigating new friendships, HCN delivers to the whole person.
“We ask families what they need and we work to get that for them,” says the HCN therapist that has worked with Jayla and her family for the past three years. “We're very intentional about what our clients want and need and, how we can support them in all aspects of mental health and basic resources. We are able to bond with our families because we aren't on a pedestal to them. We are able to connect with them just by being people—not just a therapist,” she adds.
Jayla’s long journey shows that when donors and volunteers support HCN activities, they’re not funding just a few hours of talk therapy. Instead, Jayla has received heartfelt, culturally affirming therapy and a warm ear from her HCN therapist for over three full years. Support for Jayla at her tender age means extending support to her whole family. HCN continues to applaud Larissa’s commitment to personal growth that her daughter can model. The foundational support that HCN gives Jayla’s mom has had a multiplier effect, spurring Jayla’s own improvements— proven by her ability to advocate better for herself and her improved self-esteem.
The Jayla who walked into HCN three years ago is a distant memory from the young woman she has become today. HCN’s unique approach and unparalleled commitment to young people are in large part to credit. These kinds of personal transformations change lives every single day and build resilient communities over the long haul.