Impact Story: Jalen is getting his LifeSet

Last updated: November 9, 2021, at 4:05 p.m. PT

Originally published: October 12, 2021, at 3:38 p.m. PT

A photo of a person with a multicolor plaid shirt and a hat.

For young adults like Jalen*, accessing mental health support can be a real struggle. Jalen, 22, has aged out of foster care and is now living in a shelter in Pierce County. He came to the Y Social Impact Center’s LifeSet program in 2019 to work on his mental health and develop independent living skills.  

Since 2013, the LifeSet program has helped eliminate barriers young people face by providing access to behavioral health-focused case management for youth transitioning out of foster care and for youth in crisis. For young adults who don’t have the support they needed to thrive as independent adults, LifeSet provides mental health support and life skills to ensure all kids and young adults, regardless of where they come from, have what they need to reach their goals.   

LifeSet is designed to help fill the resource gap between when kids are in care and when they become independent adults. Through this program, we have seen people like Jalen thrive by acquiring better coping skills, become more likely to keep and maintain safe housing and employment, and have long-term positive implications for mental health, sheerly by interrupting cycles of trauma young adults have experienced. 

“Supporting the whole health of a young adult improves their abilities to thrive independently,” said Justine Yahnke, Jalen’s Y staff case manager.  

Yahnke has seen vast improvement in Jalen since they started with LifeSet. “Jalen is always trying and working hard,” Yahnke said. “Within the yearlong enrollment in LifeSet, Jalen has gotten his own place where he is supported by an in-home care aide and has mastered three meals on his own with no plan on stopping there.” Jalen takes full advantage of all that is offered within the program and prioritizes meeting with Yahnke.   

Jalen says life hasn’t always been easy but right now he is well on his way to independent living and has been hard at work with his case manager Yahnke to stabilize his mental health and develop independent living skills like feeding himself, managing finances, and taking care of his own place.  

“LifeSet uses evidence-based interventions in an approachable and low-barrier way,” Yahnke said. With a history of mistreatment by the medical field and barriers such as health insurance, access, and discrimination, BIPOC communities are less likely to receive mental health care. But programs like LifeSet meet participants where they feel most comfortable—at home and in their community. With a more conversational approach and an emphasis on listening, young adults are finding the support and resources they need to thrive independently.  


It is because of donors like you that Jalen is getting the support he deserves to become self-sufficient and healthy through The Y’s LifeSet program. Learn more about Y Social Impact Center programs

*Participant’s name was changed out of concern for privacy and anonymity.