Tricialouise Gurley Millard
December 17, 1981 – August 3, 2012
The Vanguard team lost a very special friend last weekend. Tricialouise Gurley Millard was a dynamic, dedicated, enthusiastic change-maker for youth in the mental health field. Tricia embraced communication as one way to increase youth participation in decisions about their own mental health care. She was one of the first youth who served on a national discussion group to help inform communications and social marketing work. She spoke passionately at national conferences, inspiring everyone she met — young and old. She always made time for a quick greeting and a hug. She spoke, she cried, she demanded and she loved.
Tricia was a founding board member of Youth M.O.V.E., a youth-led national organization devoted to improving services and systems that support positive growth and development by uniting the voices of individuals with lived experience in various systems, including mental health, juvenile justice, education and child welfare. Her friends at Youth M.O.V.E. posted the following about her passing:
This is a tremendous loss to the youth movement … but we look forward to those of us who learned from her, taking this knowledge and passion forward to continue to positively effect change on youth- and family-serving systems. Please take time to process, heal and reemerge from this tragic loss. We want to ensure the safety and well-being of all of us, as we were all family to Tricia. http://www.cmhnetwork.org/news/loss-of-a-strong-youth-advocate
I couldn’t sleep last night because I just kept seeing Tricia’s mischievous grin every time I closed my eyes. I can’t make sense of her passing at 30 years old. Perhaps no one can. It is sufficiently difficult to lose someone when they have lived a full life; it’s harder still to lose someone so young.
Many of us working in children/youth mental health were together just last week at a conference in Florida and got to see her, which seems to make her passing even more unreal. To honor her I will work harder on this issue. I will work harder to help young people find and use their voices for change. And I will remember to love.