Where do I fit in? BIPOC youth share 6 ways to feel connected

MHA Admin

Fri, 09/30/2022 – 12:43

By Katie Lee, MHA Deputy Director of Communications

A perk of adulthood is seeing the past in a different light. Maybe you thought your hobbies and likes were odd as a child but found others with the same interests as you got older – realizing that you were perfectly normal all along, just around peers who enjoyed different things. But you don’t see that as a young person in the midst of it, and you can feel especially ostracized as a young BIPOC individual.

In a recent MHA webinar, four youth leaders spoke from lived experiences about not fitting in, unlike others, having different interests, or not finding a comfortable space, and how they overcame these feelings and the impact on their mental health. Two of the speakers are former MHA Youth Mental Health Council members: Marcus Alston, founder and executive director of Alston for Athletes, and Cyn Gomez, ASUC QT+ wellness director and student at the University of California, Berkeley. Panelists Irene Hu and Anya Beltran are members of the AAKOMA Project – an MHA partner that supports BIPOC and marginalized teens, young adults, and their family’s mental health through dialogue, authentic, equitable engagement in communities, and understanding that everyone deserves optimal mental health.

Here are six takeaways to overcoming the challenges of fitting in from these leaders:

1. Be yourself

Hu said that pretending to like what she thought her peers liked would make her fit in, but she still wasn’t making connections. Hu decided to be her authentic self when entering high school. “I’m expressing myself and my real interests and this actually allowed me to make friends with common interests,” Hu said.

2. Join clubs

All of the speakers expressed the importance of seeking out organized social groups. Beltran talked about looking outside of the school setting for interest clubs that aren’t offered. For example, seek out groups in libraries or community centers.

3. Use social media, but don’t get sucked into it

Social media is a great way to find others with shared experiences and similar likes. Alston said he didn’t feel so alone after finding online other young athletes struggling with their mental health. However, don’t measure your worth based on follows and likes.

4. Embrace your identity

Gomez spoke about the community he found when transitioning to college. Identities that hindered him before, such as being queer and Latino, are now celebrated and more common in this new environment.

5. Stick with people who care

Having friends is an important part of life and everyone’s mental health. Make sure the people around you are concerned for your well-being, listen to you, and value you as a complete person.

6. Get adults involved

School and community leaders working with youth need to step up to provide safe and welcoming spaces for all. Diverse clubs, extracurriculars, opportunities for cultural exchange, and affinity groups are easy ways to catch youth that feel like they don’t have a place to be themselves. In addition, advocate for a peer support program, which can improve feelings of safety, inclusiveness, and understanding.

Gomez said every young person needs a safe, loving, and supportive community and have folks who care about them. “You deserve it,” said Gomez. “If you’re struggling to find it now, it’s going to come around eventually, and the frustration and the heartache that comes from it, that too will pass.”

Watch the full webinar replay here.


The Capital City Emergency “Level II” Trauma & Wellness Center will house a “state of the art” Outreach Community Resource Center, that will provide case management, mental health community advocacy, and oversight from the M.I. Mother’s Keeper mental health advocates. 
The Capital City Emergency “Level II” Trauma & Wellness Center will offer patrons access to immediate coverage by general surgeons as well as coverage by the specialties of orthopedic surgery, neurosurgery, anesthesiology, emergency medicine, radiology and critical care.
Our goal is to help people in the best way possible in an effort to preserve and to save more lives in the Nation’s Capital and beyond.

Follow Capital City Emergency Trauma & Wellness Center's success:

Sign up to receive updates


Code Red
Gunshot Victim
Life Threatening Wounds
Physical Assault Victim
Severely Injured Auto Accident Victim
Burn Victim
Choking & Breathing Obstructions
and more…


Child Sex Assault Victim
Domestic Violence Victim
Drug Overdose
Rape/Sex Crime Victim
Suicide Watch
Trafficking Victim
Nervous Breakdown
and more…

Mental Health

At Capital City Emergency Trauma & Wellness Center patrons with mental health emergencies that include life threatening situations in which an individual is imminently threatening harm to self or others, severely disoriented or out of touch with reality, has a severe inability to function or is otherwise distraught and out of control, will have access to quality and psychiatric emergency services and referrals.

Physical Health

Whether your life threatening medical emergency involves excessive or uncontrollable bleeding, head injury. difficulty with breathing, severe pain, heart attack, vision impairments, stroke, physically collapsing, or seizure related, rest assured that our professionals will properly assess and evaluate the level of response that will be most needed to help provide stabilized care solutions and minimize complications as well as reduce early mortality.

Holistic Healthcare

We offer healthcare solutions that will support the whole person which includes their physical, psychological, emotional, social, & spiritual wellbeing. Research supports that because your mental state can affect your overall health we support and offer the inclusion of complimentary and alternative medicine(CAM) practitioners and naturopathic doctor recommendations and referrals as a part of our Outreach Community Resource Center’s care regimen and support.


Emergency care can typically result in traumatic injuries for which rehabilitation becomes an essential component of care in trying to achieve the best long-term outcomes for the patient. In addition to speeding up recovery times and helping to prevent further complications, rehabilitative care also helps to support a patient’s self-managed recovery once discharged from our facility. Our Outreach Community Resource Center works closely with our trauma center’s discharge department to assure that patrons requiring these services are linked with qualified professionals who will be accountable to the standard of care required to help the patron be successful in their recovery.

Social Services

Our “state of the art” Outreach Community Resource Center intends to promote “expansive” beneficial community enriching services, programs, case management, & linkage to “approved” partner resources and supports in all of the following intended areas and more:

Social Services

  • Clothing
  • Food Pantry
  • Housing/Shelter
  • I.D. Credentials
  • Senior Wellness Check
  • Toiletries
  • Transportation
  • Etc.

Extended Family Services

  • Child Care
  • Credit Counseling
  • Family Court Services
  • Legal Aide

Career Training

  • Apprenticeship programs
  • Computer/Graphics Training
  • Culinary Program  
  • GED Courses
  • Hospitality Training
  • Job Etiquette & Grooming
  • Resume’ Prep
  • Sales Training
  • Software/Technology workshops
  • Small Business Training

Return Citizen
Program Partner
(Bridging the Gap)

  • Case Management
  • Temporary Boarding/Housing
  • Transitional Program Registration

Prevention/Intervention Outreach,
Workshops, & Programs

  • After-school Behavioral Health Program
  • Civic Engagement / Volunteer Sign-up
  • Fatherhood Rites of Passage
  • Gun Violence Town Hall Forum
  • Life Coaching & Coping Strategies
  • Marriage Counseling Workshops
  • Medicare Informational Workshops
  • Mentorship Training
  • Parental Classes
  • Support Groups
  • Town Hall Discussions
  • Violence De-Escalation Training
  • Voter Registration

Nutritional Outreach

  • Cooking Demonstrations
  • Dietary Programs
  • Exercise Classes
  • Recipe Sharing Workshops
  • Meal Prep

Community Outreach

The Healthy DC & Me Leadership Coalition is partnering with the M.I. Mother’s Keeper Mental Health advocacy organization to provide outreach services on the community level as an aid in reducing the existent health inequities that many District citizens are facing as a direct result of the presence of debilitating social determinants and the lack of culturally appropriate care choices and realities for community members residing in marginalized and lower-income communities.

It is the vision and intentions of the M.I. Mother’s Keeper Mental Health Advocates organization to help improve the quality of living for citizens living in our Nation’s Capital and beyond by overseeing the delicate linkage to services and by maintaining higher standards of care accountability for deserving citizens of the Nation’s Capital.

For more information or to enroll as one of our service providers, please email us at: