Yarely Chavez said her career in the mental health industry began when she started working with a former program called the LEGACY Youth Project.

Founder Carlos Hagedorn “and everyone I got to work with really taught me the importance of mental health and connecting with ourselves,” Chavez said.

“But my biggest teachers were the youth,” she said. “They don’t get enough credit. They are so resilient. Seeing them grow was beautiful and thanks to them I worked my way up.”

Today, Chavez works with middle and high school students as a prevention specialist for Mentis of Napa Valley.

1. What was your first job?

I worked as a housekeeper/janitor in American Canyon, for my mother’s business. A job that many look down upon, but I believe it is a must and janitors run the show. Thanks to them we have running businesses.

2. What job would you like to try/not try?

Try: I would like to work at a bookstore. There is something amazing about walking into a bookstore.

Not try: Store clerk.

3. What is the biggest challenge your industry has faced?

Funding is definitely a big one in the non-profit world and the stigma behind mental health. The need is so high and I hope our schools make it a requirement to teach all students regardless of their age the importance of understanding their emotions but also how they can cope with them.

4. If you could change one thing about your industry, what would it be?

Less stigma on the importance of mental health and the beauty of being in love with life. Feelings are scary but once they are understood life can be amazing.

5. Who do you most admire in the business world?

My parents because of their resilience and dedication. Seeing my mom work 60+ hours to run her janitorial business is like “wow” … and my dad right behind her supporting. There is just so much dedication and hard work that doesn’t get talked about and I admire their hard work.

6. What’s your advice for someone who might want to work in the mental health care field?

Talk to anyone that’s in the field. That’s what I did. Don’t be scared to ask questions. If it feels right within you, listen to your heart and go with that.

7. What would you say to someone who might be reluctant to seek mental health care?

It (can be) scary at first. It can feel very confusing. But ask yourself: Do I want to live the rest of my life like this? Or would I like to try something different? Change is scary. But the unknown can lead to a beautiful moment of growth.

8. What’s on your to-do list?

Visit every state in Mexico, get my Class A license, learn sign language, read one book a month and my list goes on and on, but these are the top on my list.

9. What’s something people might be surprised to know about you?

That I’m a shy person and that when I retire, I’m moving to Mexico.

10. If you could be anywhere right now, where would you be?

I would be in Jalisco, Mexico enjoying the beautiful weather and good food.