Behavioral Health Care Enables Individuals to Achieve Good Health and Success in School and Careers

March 26, 2024

"My life has truly been shaped, and continues to be by Preferred Behavioral Health Group's School Based Youth Services Program (SBYSP) in Brick Schools and I am so grateful to be a part of it," said Nick Spanola, MS, LPC, Program Director and Former Program Participant, SBYSP, Brick Township High School

"I was a student at Brick Memorial High School from 2008 to 2012. After my freshman year, I was selected as a Peer Leader through the SBYSP, in which I had the opportunity to work closely with counselors to facilitate workshops for freshmen students about transitioning to high school. I loved being a part of this program, and learned so much about the benefits of focusing on mental health for students and developed a love for this field of work," Nick shared.

"As I moved forward in high school, I started having more difficult life situations that brought on a lot of stress for me. Due to my comfort with the SBYSP at Brick Memorial High School, I was able to get connected with counseling services there. This support greatly helped me navigate these difficult times in my life," Nick added.

"My involvement in the SBYSP played a huge part in me pursuing a career in the mental health field," said Nick, who earned a Bachelor's degree in Psychology and a Master's degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, and completed internships at this SBYSP," Nick shared.

Nick joined the Brick Memorial High School SBYSP staff as a Youth Development Counselor about five years ago and has been promoted to Mental Health Counselor at Brick Township High School and again more recently to the position of Program Director.

"The Bridge helped me to mold myself in becoming the person I am," Marcus St. Vil stated.

Throughout much of his childhood, Marcus experienced a lot of time alone, was extremely shy and had difficulty developing friendships. During high school, he volunteered at The Bridge and gradually assumed leadership roles, including manager and host of a podcast. "The Bridge helped me to mold myself in becoming the person I am," he said.

Marcus works full-time at The Bridge as a Youth Liaison, Marketing Coordinator and Data Analyst. At the same time, he is carrying a full course load, studying finance and managerial accounting at Rutgers University, and he aims to start a business after he gains more work experience.

"I just want to be the person that I wish I had when I was their age. I struggled through so much...Even if I can just be there and let them know that they are here and they are heard and they are loved, that they belong, that, to me, is all that matters because I promised myself that if I ever got through those moments in my life, I would be that for somebody else," shared JP Pedoto, LSW, Pride+, Program Coordinator and Clinician, Family Connections.

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Please join NJAMHAA in advocating for significant funding increases in the FY2025 State Budget.

Click here to read more success stories in NJAMHAA's campaign brochure and here to watch videos that feature JP and otherinspiring examples of the value of behavioral healthcare services and the workforce who provides them.

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