Local mental health advocate is trying to make changes in her community

September 19, 2022 /

Jocelyn Myrna Frias Molina is a mental health advocate who helps out her community in any way she can by being part of an organization that advocates for change.

Molina has struggled with anxiety and depression, but couldn’t put a name to it until the summer of 2020 when the pandemic forced her to slow down and focus on healing. 

“That summer I went to therapy for the first time in my life and it opened a whole world of traumas that I wasn’t aware of. I was diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder and chronic depression in the following year,” said Molina. “I continuously struggle with the fact I have been suicidal at so many stages of my life, this does include an attempt in high school.”

She said this is a difficult thing to talk about but it’s her reality when it comes to mental health. Her mental health journey also does include prescribed medication which she has a very complicated relationship with.

“I state all this because my mental health background is why I am a mental health advocate. My journey has been very lonely and I am just now able to more confidently open up about my stories; I want to be one of many resources in uplifting others and holding space to heal and enjoy life,” said Molina. “There is so much that must be done to target the things we are hearing more about, like suicide, mental health, and mental illnesses. Advocating for financial security, housing security, food security, and universal health care are examples of what it means to be a mental health advocate.” 

Her piece of advice for anyone who is struggling with their mental health is that there is a community that has similar struggles. Whether you seek out a community that is also first-gen, LGBTQ+, low-income, BIPOC, etc., the communities are out there.

“First, your journey is your own, whether it be minimal anxieties, minimal depressive episodes, diagnosed mental illness, etc. — it is all valid. Navigating mental health can be exhausting, draining, and feeling hopeless because of capitalistic mindsets or our traditional family culture,” said Molina. “To that I say, you are not alone and those emotions are valid — including anger. Finding community with others has been so healing for me because feeling respected, reassured, heard, and understood is huge in healing and moving forward with our journeys.”

For Molina, helping the community isn’t something that is set. It’s more of sharing resources and speaking out as needed. 

“I like to take space but also make space in my community efforts. Mutual aid is the biggest one whether it be contributing to it or sharing it with my connections. I haven’t reflected much on how helping out makes me feel but this is probably a perfect opportunity to do that,” said Molina. “I believe the best way to describe it is hopeful because some days you feel hopeless, like nothing you do actually matters. But, hearing stories and seeing advancements in our community and contributing to that in any way brings me to hope that the time and space we live in now are not the standards for the future.”

Molina recently graduated from UC Merced with two bachelor’s degrees, one in philosophy and the other in political science, when she came across a Loud for Tomorrow hiring post on Instagram. Her experience as a part-time organizer with 99 Rootz and POCA during her time in Merced helped her in learning how much she loved connecting with community members. 

“I chose to be in this organization because it prioritizes so much of what other non-profits do not. I jumped at the opportunity to organize with youth full-time. To this day, I can confidently say LOUD is a safe space where one can be themselves authentically, one isn’t driven to a point of burnout, and one is not in a toxic work culture where the focus is on your output,” said Molina. “We are an org made up of young people trying to do outreach in a way that is healing and restorative to everyone, including ourselves, that is why I choose to stay and share space with this organization.”

Loud For Tomorrow is a community organization that is youth-led and youth-centered. They prioritize healing in learning spaces as well as center Black, Indigenous, and Non-Black people of color, and LGBTQ+ voices. Some of the things this organization does include youth-led conferences, youth-led academies, voter registration, and youth-centered issue campaigns. 

“This organization helps the community by taking action when necessary; If a community member needs our help, we do our best to spread our resources to tend to that. A huge emphasis on collective care! We support each other as a community because we are all part of a collective and we need one another,” said Molina. “We attend city council meetings, we advocate for what is important to us, and more than anything we hold safe spaces where youth are able to be creative in their advocacy and organizing — It’s a flexible environment so we can adapt to what is a priority.”

Molina said it’s important to learn as a collective on community matters because the current systems in place are quite literally killing the community members and the planet. Personally, she tries to learn and pass that knowledge to family, friends, and youth through safe spaces where one can unlearn, learn and have space to be confused. Currently, she solely focuses on this through her work with Loud for tomorrow through conferences, community actions, and meetings, and just inviting youth to learn and feel heard in their questions so they can figure things out together. 

“I emphasize collective because I don’t think I’m done learning and educating myself— We have been taught harmful knowledge that must be unlearned. We have to learn the truth about our background and our society and learn what are the best ways to heal and restore a life of healing and peace, not one of paying bills and constant productivity stress,” said Molina. “Every system and institution has been created to exclude Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities and there must be a hard stop. As we learn, we can collectively heal from the dangers of racism, colorism, homophobia, classism, and much more — institutional and internalized.”

As a youth organizer with Loud for Tomorrow, they have fall phone-banking and a canvassing campaign that is gearing up to start soon. She is also studying for the Law School Admission Test in order to bring that resource into my organization. 

“Also our voter registration efforts have begun; We are hiring youth from AHS to work alongside me to register voters on this side of Kern County. We also have upcoming events that focus on leadership development and healing! Stay tuned to our Instagram for details on upcoming events,” said Molina.

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