Page 39 - BusinessWest 40 Under Forty 2024
P. 39

      It’s called “I Am More Than My Mood.”
That public awareness campaign, seen on billboards, buses, and digital ads since its
unveiling in early 2023, aims to destigmatize the subject of mental health and empower young people to talk about it — and, hopefully,
take steps toward self-care.
It’s just one
element of Tiffany Rufino’s impactful work as Youth Mental Health Coalition manager at the Public Health Institute of Western Massachusetts.
“The coalition is all about preventive methods for youth mental health, how we convene
and bring together different professionals and residents across different sectors: behavioral- health professionals, private clinicians, and residents who are interested in youth mental
health and want to impact change in their communities,” she explained.
Many ideas in the campaign came a youth advisory board called Beat the Odds, Forget the Statistics.
“They get together weekly and talk about topics around mental health
and work to bring information to the community and build
awareness,” Rufino explained. “They’re comfortable talking
about mental health and encourage their peers to do the
She’s learned that today’s
teens are a little more open to talking about mental health than,
say, their parents.
“It really becomes an
opportunity to share some challenges they’re going through
and recognize that other young
people are experiencing the same,” she went on. “With the coalition, we’re focusing on parents and guardians, getting them up to speed on where their youth are and helping them realize that talking about stress doesn’t make you weak or inferior in any way; it’s just the reality of life.”
Rufino has worked in community and youth development for a long time, building relationships with local schools and colleges with Girl Scouts of Central and Western Massachusetts and addressing root causes of poor reading levels in schools with Parent Villages, to name two previous roles.
“I really have a passion for creating opportunities for young people, especially my community in Springfield, and making sure they have opportunities and pathways for success,” she said, adding that, through the coalition she has assembled at the Public Health Institute, she’s able to address issues ranging from stress, anxiety, and depression to the ways intergenerational trauma impacts parenting today.
“The youth are so critical because they can impact change now and in the future,” Rufino said. “It’s a really great feeling to be able to spearhead this work and see tangible results coming from young people, and even parents and guardians. It gives me goosebumps every time.” BW
—Joseph Bednar
    40 Under Forty Class of 2024
A special congratulations to
Tiffany Rufino
Youth Mental Health Coalition Manager at the Public Health Institute of Western MA and member of BHN’s Board of Directors, on her well-deserved recognition! | 413- 301-WELL (9355)
2024 A39
Tiffany Rufino
Youth Mental Health Coalition Manager, Public Health Institute of Western Massachusetts: Age 39

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