Javier Cabrera Rosales
Active Minds Speaker
Javi grew up in a Latin American family for whom bottling up your struggles was the generational norm. Looking back, he knows now that from a young age, he identified as queer, but the messages he received from his community and religion were that those feelings were not accepted. He suppressed his identity to meet the expectations he felt from those around him. Javi was tormented and harassed in elementary school which further reinforced the need to suppress who he really was.
Javi turned to substances to cope and began to experience layers of deep depression. In his late teens, Javi met someone with whom he felt safe to come out to. Much to Javi’s surprise, her reaction was accepting. She introduced him to a young man, and they fell in love. A turbulent and challenging romance, the experience left Javi heartbroken and lost in his early 20s. He turned again to substances and fell into a depression. In Javi’s family, depression was common but regarded as “a part of life.” Javi was in his mid-20s before he learned that “sadness” and “depression” are different and that when sadness is chronic and persistent, coupled with loss of interest, as his was, it qualifies as depression.
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Javi needed to change his surroundings and figure out how to continue moving forward. He moved from San Francisco to Santa Rosa, about 50 miles north, where he started taking classes at Santa Rosa Junior College. He founded and joined the peer mental health advocacy group there called the “PEERS Coalition” and discovered Active Minds.
Javi graduated from Santa Rosa Junior College and went on to receive his BA in Psychology from Sonoma State University. His focus was to continue his work in the mental health field and to pursue a path of creating and developing spaces where all people were welcomed and able to find their own pathways to healing.
Today, Javi has been working in the mental health field since 2012 with a strong focus on prevention and early intervention within youth and young adult communities. He is the Program Director at La Plaza: Nuestra Cultura Cura, a place where the Latinx community comes together to identify their own culturally centered ways of healing, based in Santa Rosa CA. Through arts, food, community, dance, poetry, and storytelling, they draw on both traditional and non-traditional cultural healing practices. La Plaza offers the space for people to provide and share the many ways they already know how to heal.
Javi’s speech is engaging, caring, and inspiring. He has set out to ensure that young adults from all walks of life understand that they matter, that they are deserving of a safe and accepting space, and that every intersection of their identities are worthy and beautiful.
He/Him/His and They/Them
- LGBTQ+ Community
- People of Color and Mental Health
- Substance Abuse
Through battling family and generational norms, cultural expectations, and societal pressures, Javier shares his experience of hiding his true identity to meet the expectations he felt from those around him. Javi was tormented and harassed which further reinforced the need to suppress who he really was. He turned to substances to cope and experienced layers of deep depression after a challenging heartbreak.
Eventually, after a much needed change in his surroundings, he found a peer mental health advocacy group and discovered Active Minds which slowly led him towards believing in himself — exactly as he was. Javi’s presentation ensures that young adults from all walks of life understand that they matter, that they are deserving of a safe and accepting space, and that every intersection of their identities are worthy and beautiful.
Javier travels from California.
“Thank you all so much for the wonderful event this afternoon! It was so inspirational and real and I was just blown away. Some staff and faculty members have already contacted me to tell me how excellent Javier’s presentation was. So thank you so much for your work and support making this such a successful mental health and Spirit Day event.”
Stephanie Will, LCPC
Mental Health Services Program Manager, Peer Advocate Coordinator
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