‘Angst’ aims to start conversations about anxiety

By Hannah Black, Woodbury Bulletin

“There may be something to your teenager’s complaint of a stomach ache every morning before school: anxiety.

Close to one-third of adolescents in the United States have some kind of anxiety disorder, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.

Local mental health organization Youth Service Bureau hopes a movie might open up lines of communication between young students and their parents.

The 56-minute film “Angst” will be shown at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 4 at Woodbury High School and 6:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 9 at Woodbury Middle School. Additionally, there will be a 7 p.m. showing Thursday, Oct. 11 at St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church in Mahtomedi. A discussion panel will follow all of the showings.

The film is recommended for students in fifth through 12th grades to attend with an adult. A resource sheet will be distributed to adults. Community members of all ages are welcome. Free tickets are available online.

The film includes candid interviews with children and young adults who deal with or have dealt with anxiety and what they’ve learned. Several mental health experts, including an Olympic athlete, are featured.

“It’s a movie that really brings hope,” said Merri Guggisberg, youth and family education coordinator at the Youth Service Bureau. “There’s young people that are sharing their experience, their journey. It’s really encouraging to all kids, all parents. We all experience anxiety, but to what level? How do we help?”

She said some of the showings are being sponsored by an “anonymous friend” of Woodbury Senior Living.

Guggisberg hopes parents and kids will watch the film together and move them forward with a better understanding of one another. She also hopes the film and discussion encourages those who need help to seek it.”

Increasing School Support through Andeavor Grant

The $50,000 grant funding from Andeavor is up and running! Through their support to YSB:

  • Each district served by this grant (622 and 833) decided how they wanted to use the funds to provide mental health support to students, staff, and parents.
  • Each district will have a YSB therapist for student and staff support, and our Youth and Family Educator for parent education.

In District 833 we will provide services in Oltman Middle School, serving students in group, presentation, and assembly formats. We will be working with training for all the staff in the district – and parent education that aligns with what the students and staff are learning.

In District 622 we will be in each middle school every Thursday on a rotating basis. John Glenn is requesting presentations in 6th grade health classes; Skyview is requesting classroom presentations on conflict resolution presented in every science class throughout the entire year (by the end of the year all kids should have seen the presentation); Maplewood Middle would like to focus on groups for students and providing education on grant related topics in 8th grade health classes.

YSB is grateful for the support of the Andeavor Foundation, and the participating school districts! Together we are doing great work in the communities we live and work in!

Any questions, or if you would like to find a way to get involved – please contact Andree Aronson, Development Director, at 651.439.8800 x 105 or

YSB Helps Host 2nd Annual Diversion Conference!

The conference will be Friday, October 26th. We will gather to collaborate on current best practices, share what we are doing well in Diversion and discuss how we can continue to improve!

Who is invited?
All Juvenile Diversion Providers in the seven county metro area including: Non-Profits, County Attorneys, Community Corrections, County Probation, and Police Departments.

Keynote: Dr. David Walsh, Author and International Speaker will be presenting on digital addiction:

Digital Addiction has an incredible impact on today’s youth. Learn what we can do about it from a Diversion standpoint –to promote youth having a presence online while being safe, healthy and doing activities that do not require wifi.


YSB is hosting this event in partnership with Lakes Center for Youth and Families, Northeast Youth and Family Services, and St Paul Youth Services. Visit this link to learn more or register!

YSB Welcomes New Chemical Health – Clinical Specialist!

YSB welcomes Colleen O’Neil, LADC to our team of staff! 

We’re excited to announce that Colleen will be our Chemical Health Clinical Specialist working with students in the high-schools in ISD 833 starting this fall!

Colleen brings valuable skills and talents from her wide array of previous related experience working with chemical health, schools, and adolescents and families.  She also brings a passion and vision that is a wonderful fit for YSB and the services we provide.  Colleen is very excited to get started and to work directly in the schools with our partners in 833.  She can be contacted at Park High school, Woodbury High school, East Ridge High school or the South Washington Alternative High School this fall.

Colleen joins YSB with a Bachelor of Science degree in Alcohol and Drug Counseling and as a licensed alcohol and drug counselor (LADC). Before coming to YSB, she worked as an Adolescent Chemical Health Counselor in an intensive outpatient chemical health treatment program, working with young adults between the ages of 13-18. Her experience also includes working in the residential treatment setting as well as working directly with parents and guardians.

“I believe it is a privilege working with both teens and their family, and am honored that I can help them navigate the challenges that substance use often creates within the family unit.

For the past 20+ years I have worked, off and on, with adolescents in a school setting – and am beyond excited to be back in the schools!

I love that I am able to use my knowledge, experience and passion daily while being surrounded by dedicated educators and YSB staff who hold the same beliefs and passions as I do!”  – Colleen O’Neil, LADC

Please join us in welcoming Colleen to our team!

Learn more about our School-Based Chemical Health programs

YSB Expands Services to Young Adults

By: Katie Nelson,
Community Reporter, South Washington County Bulletin 

Read Article Here

After serving kids ages 5-18 for around 40 years, the Youth Service Bureau is opening its age restrictions to young adults up to 25 years old.

Over the past two years, YSB has been constantly expanding both geographically and in its services, with age expansion being the latest addition.

“We’re seeing a lot more kids that are college-aged that come home for the summer … that are continuing to have need for therapy services for anxiety, depression and other mental health,” Executive Director Bob Sherman said.

Program Director Michael Huntley said that over the last five years YSB served about 50 people over 18 years old, mainly people who were pre-existing patients from high school treatment. Young adults needing counseling but who were not previously clients can now utilize YSB therapists.

The adult brain isn’t fully developed until a person is in their mid-20s; past that, Sherman said, the issues people deal with tend to be different. Treatment in the early-20s can help prevent future problems, making it a good time to seek help.

Ever-expanding services

Starting two years ago, YSB swiftly raised $1.1 million during an expansion campaign aimed at adding more therapists, increasing chemical health treatments and moving into more schools within the South Washington County, Stillwater and North St. Paul-Maplewood-Oakdale school districts.

The expansion was fully implemented into schools during the 2017-18 school year. Sherman said they were able to serve more than 51,000 kids last year.

“The Youth Service Bureau is now the largest it’s ever been,” he said. “The number of kids and families that we’re serving now has dramatically increased since the campaign.”

With some newly-hired staffers licensed for Wisconsin, they could also be eyeing school districts across the St. Croix River for possible future expansion.

“We haven’t started, but are ready to if we need to,” Sherman said.

Early intervention

Another grant, just received from the Andeavor Foundation, will help YSB focus on early intervention and school safety services.

“Kids that become isolated … can become a real risk to the school community,” Sherman said. “Remote cases can become school shooters. We’re working with staff to recognize those signs and work with them.”

Huntley said there will be three parts to this new resource: working directly with students, doing some training with faculty and helping to educate parents.

“We’re really excited because that early intervention is one of our goals,” he said.

The Youth Service Bureau has locations in Cottage Grove, Woodbury and Stillwater. For more information or to learn how to make an appointment, visit

Youth Homelessness – A Community Issue with A Community Solution

By: Cindy Parsons, Executive Director 
St. Croix Family Resource Center

Generous funding from a Rotary International grant as well as grants from several local Rotary clubs made it possible for St. Croix Family Resource Center (FRC) to complete a Runaway and Homeless Youth Study/Action Plan.  The results from the study was shared with the public on June 11th.  The study is now available at

Youth homelessness is definitely a problem in Washington County.  It’s a community issue and needs a community solution. 

We do not need to re-invent the wheel when it comes to serving our youth with unstable housing.  We need to commit to collaboration and sharing what we learn along the way.  There are many ways to help and many different roles.  Youth voices were heard in the study and will continue to be vital as steps to move forward as the recommended action plan unfolds.  Joan Countryman, former program director of Bridge for Youth completed the study for the FRC and is now employed by FRC as the Youth Connections Coordinator.  Joan will work to coordinate existing and new services for youth with unstable housing. 

Youth Connections Drop-In Center is the most recent new service that will be offered for youth with unstable housing.  St. Croix Family Resource Center is partnering with St. Paul Lutheran Church in Stillwater to open a drop-in center this September!  Other faith communities and non-profit agencies including Youth Service Bureau will collaborate with the FRC to provide needed services for our youth at the center.  An Open House is scheduled for September 6th at 2:30 with a tour at 3 p.m. 

The location is St. Paul Lutheran Church, 609 5th Street S., Stillwater.  The drop-in center will open for youth the following Thursday on September 13th.  Training for volunteers interested in working with youth at the drop-in center will be offered the first and last weeks in August.  The six-hour training sessions will be August 6th and 8th from 6-9 p.m. and August 27th and 29th from 6-9 p.m. 

Please call Joan at 612-475-4055 to register and for more information about the Youth Connections Program.

Washington, Ramsey county schools to boost mental health help for preteens

Grants will bring therapists to two school districts

to try to head off mental health troubles.

By: Mara Klecker, Star Tribune

Schools in Washington County and parts of Ramsey County are intensifying efforts to help preteens struggling with stress and anxiety, which can lead to more serious mental health problems if not treated.

“We want to try to head this off before it becomes a real problem,” said Bob Sherman, executive director of Youth Service Bureau, an organization that helps youth and families be more successful at home and in school.

Two new grants will bring therapists into middle schools in those two east metro counties.

Last week, Youth Service Bureau was awarded $50,000 from the Andeavor Foundation for an initiative to create safer schools. The funds will be split between the South Washington School District and the North St. Paul-Maplewood-Oakdale School District. Sherman said plans are in the works to bring a therapist into the schools once a week in addition to offering educational opportunities for parents to learn to recognize signs of mental illness.

The organization has also received $5,500 from the United Way of Washington County East to provide a mental health classroom presentation for all sixth- and seventh-grade students at Stillwater’s Oak-Land Middle School this coming school year. Youth Service Bureau plans to conduct about 30 of the presentations, which will focus on teaching prevention and coping strategies for stress, anxiety and depression.

“We are finding a lot of middle-school kids who are so stressed out … by the time they get to middle school, they feel they can’t handle everything in life,” Sherman said. Youth Service Bureau is applying for additional funding to expand its presence in the schools in Washington and eastern Ramsey counties.

Across the country, children and teens are reporting more anxiety and depression. The National Institute of Mental Health reports that 31.9 percent of teens are diagnosed with some type of anxiety disorder.

That means schools are increasingly becoming the front lines in identifying students struggling with mental health problems and steering them toward help.

“You can’t help but see what’s happening around the country in schools,” Sherman said, referring to school shootings and school violence. “We decided to be much more proactive in all of this work. We want to reach kids before issues get out of control.”

By high school, some students may have been battling mental illness for years, Sherman said. Adding educational resources and access to a therapist may also help guide students away from self-medicating with drugs or alcohol, something that Youth Service Bureau chemical health specialists are seeing in middle and high schools.

The Washington County community has been receptive to and supportive of mental health education initiatives, said Jessica Ryan, executive director of the United Way of Washington County East.

For the 40 volunteers who chose what programs would receive United Way funding in the last round of applications, supporting these resources for middle schoolers was an easy choice, Ryan said.

“I think we all understand how important that mental health awareness is,” she said.

YSB Benefits from Werner Electric Golf Tournament

Werner Electric is one of YSB’s newest partners, and we thrilled! 

On July 21, 2018 at Stonebridge Golf Course, Werner hosted their Charity Golf Outing benefiting YSB – raising $8,130!
Support like this helps YSB provide services to all those that need them, regardless of their ability to pay.

Werner and YSB are working on a Partnership Path that will include education and support for the communities that they serve, and the employees and their families of Werner Electric.

Thanks Werner Electric and we look forward to a long and meaningful partnership!
In photo, left to right: Merri Guggisberg, YSB Youth and Family Education Coordinator, Bob Sherman, YSB Executive Director, Cynthia Bennett, Werner Electric Strategic Marketing Manager, Andree Aronson, YSB Development Director.

Joe Slavin Memorial Golf Tournament benefits YSB and increases Mental Health Services in area schools!

Joe Slavin was the principle at Skyview Middle School in Woodbury, Minnesota.

Joe died by suicide June 7, 2017; his family and friends wanted to do something powerful to raise awareness about mental health and the need to talk openly about mental health concerns.  

Picture: Darcy Hagar-Slavin, Kevin Wolff (Principal – Maplewood Middle School), and Travis Barringer (Principal – Skyview Elementary).

All proceeds from this event ​were donated to YSB and Canvas Health, mental health service providers that directly impact the schools in ISDs 833 and 622, school districts that were dear to Joe’s heart, family, and friends.  

At the golf tournament, Darcy Slavin said,

We are here today to raise awareness for the need for mental health in our community and to break down the stigma related with mental illness.   A mental health condition is a medical illness, just like a physical condition. If you break your leg, you do not hesitate to seek treatment.

The same is true with mental illness. We are hoping to provide increased mental health services in the school districts that Joe served in order to decrease suicide risk, depression, and anxiety.  In order to manage your mental health you have to recognize it, name it and seek help.  You have to give up control in order to truly control it. This is what we need to teach others to do.”

We are grateful for the Slavin family and friends for reaching out and choosing YSB as a beneficiary of their event. 

The funds raised will provide mental health education to students, staff, and families in the ISD 622 and 833 communities.

The Reason for Curfew

By: Shelby Bailey, YSB Diversion Staff

Summer has finally arrived, and everyone is able to enjoy the beautiful weather here in Minnesota. With the sun giving us extra time in our day, we have the opportunity to stay out longer but still need to remember the curfew requirements for youth in our community.

Local police departments report an increase in juvenile concerns after curfew hours.

If juveniles are out past curfew they are more likely to be committing crimes or being victims of crimes. Curfew is put into place to provide safety for the youth in our community and help reduce crime.

Your individual township may have it’s own guidelines. You can check them here. Unless otherwise noted, listed below are the curfew times for youth across Washington County:

Under 12:

  • 9:00pm-5:00am Sunday-Thursday
  • 10:00pm-5:00am Friday-Saturday


  • 11:00pm-5:00am Everyday


  • 11:00pm-5:00am Sunday-Thursday
  • 12:00am-5:00am Friday-Saturday

Any Exceptions?

There are some exceptions given the circumstances of the situation. Examples such as being with a responsible adult, going or returning from work, an emergency, attending a supervised event in the community, or had written permission from a parent.

What if my child doesn’t follow the curfew?

Your child may receive a citation from local Police if they are out during prohibited times.

The Youth Service Bureau offers services for youth and families when a child may not be abiding the curfew times, or may be struggling with other concerning behaviors.  Contact one of our 3 offices to find out more.

We hope you encourage your children to make safe choices and enforce the curfew in our community.

Have a safe and fun summer!