HAMPTON, Va. - Sunday, May 1 marks the start of Mental Health Awareness Month, and one local program is on a mission to support teenage girls and young woman through counseling and mental health education.
“I started to notice I was no longer in a more positive state, and I was dealing with a lot of stuff,” Makayla Anderson told News 3.
Anderson, then a sophomore at Hampton University, went through a few therapists before finding Ingrid Bornia and Boss Child Inner Counseling.
“I explained what the surface level for me being there was, but she saw right through it,” Anderson said.
Therapy helped, but it wasn't until Anderson entered Bornia's nonprofit program Boss Girl that things started to really change.
“Our community is, in some regard, not necessarily taking care of our young girls," Bornia said. "We have an increasing trend going on of girls committing suicide, thinking about suicide or having planned some type of self-harm."
Boss Girl, founded in 2019, is working to reverse that trend.
Bornia, who is a licensed social worker, helps girls and women ages 14 to 21 practice self-care and find empowerment, whether through group therapy or physical activity.
She's partnered with trainer Shannon Moore, who runs a program called Be Moore Fit out of the Phit Shop Gym in Newport News, to help around 100 local girls through mental health struggles.
“I had them look in the mirror and what happens is when you look at yourself, you have to deal with yourself. But that's powerful for them," Moore explained.
Becoming a Boss Girl is free, Bornia says, with much of the cost coming out of her own pocket. Many of the girls her nonprofit helps are low income.
"It is a personal endeavor. Something I needed to do," Bornia said.
Next month, that endeavor continues with a health and wellness fair. The fair will be held at the North Phoebus Community Center from 9 a.m. to noon on June 25th.
"Shannon will be there to do her fitness routine," Bornia said. "[There will be] some door prizes, some gifts and just really affording the community some resources.”
The hope is to reach more girls and young women like Anderson, who after getting the help she needed is moving on with the tools to help others.
"This is definitely the proudest moment and most needed moment of my journey," Anderson said.
To learn more about Boss Child Inner Counseling and Boss Girl, click here.