As Sacramento schools try to address the mental health crisis, vulnerable students suffer

Tears are streaming down Nakeya Bell’s face as she listens to students in her IQ Squad program, Amari Haysbert and Jenalyn Phanh, open up about their trauma. 

At just 18 years old, Haysbert and Phanh are both young women of color who say their lives were upended by unstable familial structures, housing insecurity and COVID-19 while attending high school. 

“I didn’t expect to come here and cry. I’m not even a crier,” said Bell, a program director at the nonprofit Youth Forward. Bell’s program, IQ Squad focuses on getting women of color increased access to culturally-grounded mental health support. “Seeing Amari share her story, it’s heartbreaking to know that she had to suffer, that she had to struggle.”.

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