Evan’s introduction to Youth Advocate Programs (YAP), Inc., came during his junior year in high school. “I was struggling with depression, low self-esteem, and anxiety. I had difficulty making friends and I felt that my interpersonal relationships were all falling apart.”
Evan opened up about his challenges growing up in his application letter for the YAP Tom Jeffers Endowment Fund for Continuing Education Scholarship. Recipients of the $1,000 award are young people served by the organization and their family members who may use the funding for their education and career pursuits.
YAP provided mobile therapy, which delivered support to Evan during school hours. He said this was easier on him and his family members, who would no longer have to drive him to appointments.
“My mobile therapist through YAP was Emily Wignall. She was always really professional, and she offered me advice and support through different things I was going through. I felt that I could be myself when I was talking to her and I wasn’t anxious as I went into our sessions.”
Most important, Evan said his YAP therapist respected him.
“Being accepted by Emily definitely helped me gain more confidence when it came to people belittling me or treating me different due to my gender and sexuality. I felt accepted during our sessions and I became more confident in myself. I felt like I could correct people when they said “she” or used my birth name.
“ Previous therapists or caseworkers I’ve had would talk down to me because they just saw me as “mentally ill.” I felt that they saw my mental illness before they saw me.”
Working with Emily, Evan found positive coping skills that were not harmful. Prior to working with her he said, “I was smoking, cutting myself, and not treating myself with kindness.”
Evan said Emily empowered him with skills to control his reactions and to apply to college and pursue his career goals.
“I changed my major and I already feel more comfortable, accepted, and happy as a psychology major. After I get my degree in psychology, I want to go to graduate school for my Master’s in social work”
Even is working towards a May 2021 graduation and looks forward to making his parents proud, especially his father.
“I spent a large part of my life in disagreement with him and now that we’re closer and we understand each other better, I want us to be able to share important things in our lives with each other.”