What is my Why Series 01: Sabrina Fillers

What is my Why?

Written by Sabrina Fillers

When asked why I’m doing what I do, I can easily say It’s my life’s calling, it was a call to action I could not avoid. As an individual who has lived experience and has worked through many traumas ranging from what often felt like invisible childhood trauma, sexual assault, and navigating a new diagnoses’ of bipolar disorder and ptsd, I knew I didn’t want anyone to ever feel the way I did in those moments.

In the beginning when I felt called to pursue mental health and share my story , it wasn’t met with validation or seen as acceptable to be talking about things that are often stigmatized and seen negatively. I was fortunate to have had the opportunity early on in life to begin working with grassroot and federally funded nonprofit agencies, who quickly validated my lived experiences and showed me how valuable my experiences could be. However, now I am privileged to provide a safe and secure platform for youth and young adults to feel seen, heard, and validated across the state of Tennessee, something I initially didn’t have. Often times, youth and young adults may not have the opportunity at home or in the classroom to express their feelings or challenges, so not only am I able to provide an inclusive space for those youth, but educate them on mental health and the all encompassing mental wellness all individuals can be doing to be their best selves. Each day I wake up and humble myself to remember the days as a youth I wore a mask and did as so many others do today, “fake it till you make it” , covering deep pain with a smile and laugh. However, I want to remind reach youth and young adult I work with you don’t have to fake it; you are entitled to your feelings, your story, and to have a happy successful life. One of the reasons I joined this field is because, I wanted to be the person I didn’t have growing up, rather that looked like at home, in sports, or in the classroom. I wanted to make a difference in the lives of youth and be the example of possibility on the other side of all the challenges youth and young adults face and let youth know you don’t always have to be in survival mode you can truly thrive in the right environment.

However, I recently asked a trusted colleague and someone I truly admire “When your doing your dream job, what do you do next?” her response, “the dream doesn’t change, it just gets bigger. “ Transitioning from providing one on one support to those in need, I knew I wanted to do more to fix the root of issues experienced by youth that often led them to challenges that potentially could be avoidable. As I began doing this work and expanding on my life’s mission, I discovered a passion and longing to fine tune the often considered small parts of programs and systems that leave youth and young adults falling through the cracks. In my new found role at the department, I’ve had the opportunity to bring awareness to gaps in youth serving systems across the state and am making continuous efforts to get youth feedback for those improvements. Youth feedback is invaluable to improving our systems. As adults we think we know what is best, but as generations change and evolve our systems need to evolve to better serve our youth and young adult’s coincidingly. Youth voice is paramount in engaging our youth so they can become successful and thriving members of our society which can contribute to making a difference in our world. Our youth have a story and experiences they want to share, by allowing them the opportunity to be heard and seen we are cultivating their leadership skills, decision making, and a sense of worth. Youth voice to me is an opportunity to intently listen to our young people, make continuous improvements, and to be able to better serve our youth. My why is ever evolving, but my mission remains the same; leave people better than how I found them, help others finding silver linings in the darkest of places, and always be willing to take the necessary risks when it means helping others.


Youth and Young Adult Coordinator.


If you or someone you know is in a medical or life-threatening crisis right now, get help quickly.

  • Call your doctor
  • Call 911 for emergency services
  • Go to the nearest hospital emergency room
  • Call the toll-free, 24-hour hotline of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1.800.273.TALK (1.800.273.8255) TTY: 1.800.799.4TTY (4889)
  • Call Tennessee Statewide Crisis Line at 1.855.274.7471


If you have any questions or concerns regarding the Tennessee Healthy Transitions Initiative, please contact:

Tennessee Department of Mental Health And Substance Abuse Office of Children and Youth Mental Health

Phone: 615-878-0043