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(NewsNation) — The CDC estimates that one in five adults experience at least one mental health condition every single year.
As a part of Mental Health Awareness month, NewsNation is spotlighting a nonprofit organization: Yo Soy Ella.
Founded by Sarah Taylor in 2012, Yo Soy Ella Inc. is a nonprofit “support group” that provides services to women 18 years and older to facilitate mental and emotional healing.
“Yo soy ella” translates as “I am her, or she” in English. Taylor explained the meaning behind her nonprofit name in an interview on “Morning in America”:
“It signifies that I represent her, I represent that woman. My struggles are her struggles.”
Taylor believes she is a mirror of other women, and every other woman who has similar struggles. She felt it important to think of a name that symbolizes the organization’s mission.
Taylor was influenced through her own personal experiences with domestic violence to start Yo Soy Ella.
“And the trauma never ceased.” She explained how she continues to find new ways to cope with her lingering trauma, “I continue to heal. I’m never not healing, never ending. That’s to say that I continue to heal within the women and hearing their stories as I heal through my journey.”
Taylor could never find a productive way to cope with her trauma; nothing her therapist suggested worked for her. Through her self-empowerment, she found the courage to create an environment for women like herself to heal.
“I knew it was important for me to find my own voice, my own space, my own opportunities to see healing through my traumatic experiences. And at that time, it wasn’t readily accessible. I didn’t see any similar organizations that mirrored the help that I needed.”
As a first generation American, Taylor grew up in Chicago after her family migrated from Panama. Growing up as a Black Latina American, she found it challenging to be fully accepted into communities that shared her Latino culture.
“The barrier is basically my identity,” she said. She explained that people looked at her differently because of the color of her skin, especially when she spoke fluently in Spanish — her native language.
She was able to draw in other women with similar experiences to help grow her community.
Now, Yo Soy Ella is turning 10 years old this September.
The organization offers a variety of services, including therapy, social enrichment, personal/professional development and domestic violence prevention education.
The group has specific programs for mental health, migrant support and domestic violence — an effort to improve the well-being and spiritual needs for its participants.
Like many other nonprofits, the organization encountered some bumps in the road, especially around funding.
The pandemic was another challenge for the group. Taylor said when everything shut down due to the pandemic, victims of domestic violence became stuck in homes with their abusers.
“The stay-at-home was not safe-at-home,” she said. “We saw a lot of women pretty much get destroyed to their lowest lows during the COVID. … I think that was our lowest low, during the pandemic.”
Since then, she has developed a new sense of urgency. She knows she won’t know if another pandemic will come again, or if something similar will occur. She knows she needs to stay ready — not get ready — for challenging moments like those.
For those who are struggling with mental health, domestic violence or are seeking a healing community, Taylor urges people to take action.
“When you see something, say something.”
Sarah is inspired by the women she works with, especially those who have been with her since the beginning. Together, they have created a community to help women heal. But not just in the traditional, therapeutic way.
The organization holds events and support groups where women can take part in fun, creative ways that help enhance their decision making. Mental health Jeopardy!, bingo and poker are all innovative ways Yo Soy Ella makes healing fun and less stressful.
“We have got to change. You know, healing can be very … boring, sad and a lot of crying. We have got to create a fun environment. We are helping women make decisions,” Sara says how these games are educational for women in a positive manner.
“Reach out. Do not suffer in silence. Do not isolate yourself. When you’re isolating yourself and domestic violence, you’re isolating yourself in any type of experience … Suffering silence is the easiest way to go down to really your lowest lows.”
Learn more about Yo Soy Ella on its website or social media.