The Children and Youth Behavioral Health Initiative (CYBHI) is reimagining the way California serves young people and families. It’s a transformation that is created for, with and by our youth. Youth at the Center spotlights the many young people who are helping create that change through their involvement in CYBHI youth advisory groups and shaping this work at every level, from planning to implementation and evaluation. 

This story focuses on the CYBHI Community Evaluation Advisory Group, which engages youth to share feedback on design and implementation of the CYBHI.

Who is Angelina Hinojosa

Angelina Hinojosa, a member of the Pinoleville Pomo Nation, has been a strong advocate for youth mental health for years. So, when a family member told her about the opportunity to provide her perspective on the CYBHI’s Community Evaluation Advisory Group, she knew it was something she wanted to pursue.

The insights she brings to the work are heavily influenced by her culture and upbringing as a member of the Pinoleville Pomo Nation.

Angelina on Managing Stress

For example, when she talked about how she manages stress, she shared how basketweaving is one special way she is able to calm her mind.

“I take care of my mental health by following my cultural practice and traditions. Basketweaving is something that I hold close to my heart and was passed down to me from aunties and family members.”

Her appreciation for basketweaving is multi-faceted and gives us an intimate snapshot into how her cultural ties play a critical role in her own healing.

“Going back to your roots and making that basket and learning the importance of why we weave it this way and why it’s built this way and why your good energy needs to be — that’s therapy for people.”

Youth Experiences Key

One theme that resonated throughout our conversation was the reality that even though the group’s members have diverse viewpoints and backgrounds, many of them still share similar struggles.

The Community Evaluation Advisory Group is comprised of a variety of individuals with unique journeys, from different organizations and even varying levels of expertise, but they all come together for one common goal: ensuring the CYBHI meets the needs of youth and families across the state of California.

One of the important perspectives that Angelina has brought to the table throughout this role is the reality that so many in her community and social circle deal daily with very basic struggles—like how or when they will find transportation. These realities make prioritizing mental health feel almost impossible.

This is a key reason the group exists – to ensure these realities and experiences are considered as the CYBHI continues its implementation across the state.

She highlighted how important it was for youth to have a say the CYBHI and shared that for too long, there were too many state leaders making decisions for them.

“These are not the struggles we see first-hand as youth. It’s hard when you have other people making decisions for you. Now we are in different times, as we progress, it’s important to have that youth voice.”

Hope for The Future

One thing Angelina wants to see change for youth now and in future generations is more diversity of providers who offer mental health services. For those who are able to seek mental health support, it’s important for them to see people that not only look like them but also that have an awareness of their cultures and background.

“Every child in California deserve to talk to somebody that looks like them, especially when getting mental health services that are needed. I also hear this a lot through our youth voices–they want to see somebody that looks like them—different races, different cultural backgrounds and traditions. Because everybody comes from somewhere.”

Click this graphic to meet one of the first certified coaches, Deziana Torres

At the end of the day, the CYBHI is chipping away at a stigma surrounding mental health that stands in the way of healing for so many. Angelina shared with us that talking about mental health is an important step in the right direction.

“For a long time, mental health was not talked about—it was more of a silent struggle for many. We have resources now and we don’t have to struggle. You can talk about it with a family member, a friend, a therapist, or a counselor. We shouldn’t be silent.”

Learn more about the CYBHI and the Youth at the Center at 

Angelina Hinojosa—a member of the Pinoleville Pomo Nation—is a 19-year-old first-generation college student at Sacramento State College. She is a member of various advisory groups focused on uplifting tribal youth voices in to support youth mental health. Angelina is passionate about increasing education and awareness about mental health, suicide prevention and ensure youth who are struggling have access to the services and resources they need to thrive.