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Youth MOVE Virginia

What is Youth Move Virginia?

Youth MOVE Virginia (YMV) is a contractual agreement between the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services (DBHDS) and NAMI Virginia for youth and young adults launched in 2014. Youth MOVE (Motivating Others through Voices of Experience) is a platform for young people to share their story and inspire others. YMV is Virginia’s Statewide Youth Network and voice for young people with systems experience. In addition to the mental health system, YMV is open to youth and young adults who have experience in the child welfare, education or juvenile justice systems, including foster care and substance use/recovery services. Our mission is to support a grassroots peer network for youth and young adults to be empowered, active guides in their own care, while advocating for mental health policy and programs that are specific to their unique needs and experiences. We envision a culture that emphasizes community engagement, resiliency and unconditional support for youth and young adults throughout the state. Learn more about resources and activities that parents, youth and communities can take advantage of throughout Virginia. If you are interested in getting involved please reach out to Sophie Fontaine at

YMV is governed by an advisory board, comprised of 15 youth and young adults from around the state who have lived experience or a connection to mental health. These individuals were recruited because of their experience with various systems and insight based on personal and/or family experience. Board members meet quarterly and are routinely included in discussions about mental health policy and practice to stay informed on current activity across the state.

Below is a list of programs for youth and young adults available through Youth MOVE Virginia. If your locality does not currently have any of the below programs, consider hosting “Done in a Day” workshops and presentations. All are free and customizable to your audience and length of time.

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November Programs Youth MOVE Virginia


Youth MOVE Virginia promotes the empowerment of youth and young adults with mental health needs to use their experiences to inform and transform the mental health system and other associated entities. Because we know that information and support are critical to empowerment, we are pleased to be able to offer scholarships thanks to funding from DBHDS and SAMHSA. Scholarship funding is to be utilized for educational and leadership development opportunities that promote and help individuals employ their lived experience with a mental health condition and/or adverse life event(s) to inform and transform the service system. To learn more please see the full scholarship guidelines and application form

Programs for Youth and Young Adults

Youth Groups

Peer support youth groups are activity-based and led by trained young adults with lived experience. Groups are “youth-guided,” meaning the participants are the ones who collectively decide on group activities and discussion. This model is intended to reinforce the idea that youth and young adults can and should be the drivers of their own care, and are capable of being effective leaders in their community. Youth Groups ultimately serve as a place where young people can come and be themselves, while interacting with and meeting others who have similar experiences.

Advanced Youth Leadership Training

This two-day training is for youth and young adults who want to be leaders in their community. Ideal for any young person who would like to use their lived experience to help others, the training is also a great way to introduce the concepts of self-efficacy to the next generation of mental health advocates. Essentially, the Advanced Youth Leadership Training is an effective tool for any community or affiliate to increase their youth engagement in a culturally competent and strengths-based way.

Young Adult Leadership Retreats

This one-day retreat is an opportunity for professional development and networking for young adults serving in a peer leadership role around mental health or co-occurring substance use disorder. Each retreat is targeted at offering unique and personalized growth and development for young adults as they use their lived experience to offer support, education, or advocacy to other youth and young adults. Attendees include those in paid and unpaid roles, including youth support partners, youth or college group leaders, support group facilitators, peer advocates, and peer education leaders.

NAMI Ending the Silence

NAMI Ending the Silence is a 50-minute presentation designed to give students an opportunity to learn about mental illness through an informative PowerPoint and short videos. The presentation educates students about the signs and symptoms of mental illness and gives them ideas about how to help themselves, family members, or friends who may be in need of support. The program also includes personal testimony from a youth or young adult with lived experience about their journey to recovery.

NAMI Say It Out Loud

NAMI created Say it Out Loud to get teens talking about mental health. Raising awareness by sharing information and starting conversations about mental health is key in reducing the stigma and increasing the likelihood that teens will seek mental health care when they need it. NAMI Say it Out Loud includes a short video that features several youth talking about their experiences living with a mental health condition and a discussion guide for adults to facilitate a discussion with other youth and young adults.

NAMI On Campus

NAMI on Campus clubs work to end the stigma that makes it hard for students to talk about mental health and get the help they need. Clubs hold meetings, host awareness raising events, and offer signature NAMI programs through partnerships with NAMI State Organizations and Affiliates across the nation. While NAMI National provides resources for events and activities, clubs also have the freedom to decide what events would be best for their campus and can decide how often they want to meet. Click here for more information.

Current Clubs in Virginia include:

  • Christopher Newport University
  • James Madison University
  • Liberty University
  • Radford University
  • Tidewater Community College
  • University of Virginia
  • Virginia Commonwealth University
  • Virginia Tech

For more information contact Sophie Fontaine at

Resources for Youth and Young Adults

NAMI offers a number of resources for youth and young adults. Check out the Youth and Young Adult Resource Center for more information.

NAMI also hosts a Youth Track as part of the Family and Youth Leadership Summit, which is a great opportunity to connect with other youth and young adults who have experienced similar challenges, and learn about how you can make a difference for other young people. Click here for more information.

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