A small, minority-female-owned behavioral health company celebrated a milestone Saturday with a grand opening party at its new location.
Helping Young People Excel, LLC. — commonly referred to as HYPE — recently expanded into a new location at the Monroe Medical Plaza, 4333 Monroe St. The office serves primarily youth ages 12 to 25, but has clients both older and younger.
“If you told me this was where we were gonna be 10 years ago, I would have never believed it. Never,” said Aralana Alexander, the company’s founder and owner.
Mrs. Alexander began HYPE in 2009 ago as a tutoring service. She soon learned her clients needed more than just help with their educations, and the business continued to grow.
“Before they can even get there, we have to talk about the trauma,” she said. “It just kept snowballing.”
HYPE now serves about 80 clients, which is about double the 30 to 40 clients served before the endless, broad-ranging difficulties of 2020 surfaced.
“A lot of our kiddos that were struggling with telemedicine services, we saw their grades starting to decrease,” said Claudia Romero, the company’s chief executive. “So we started a hands-on program.”
That program uses very small, in-person groups for one-on-one help with schoolwork and developing other skills to help them better manage remote learning.
Mrs. Alexander said dealing with depression, advocating for clients and connecting them to resources, and working on housing-related issues are currently the most pressing needs. While clients can visit the company’s offices, Ms. Romero said staff also take a different approach by meeting clients for coffee or in other public areas.
“We’re very unorthodox, I like to say,” she said. “We want to make them feel more like it’s a conversation.”
Doing so can help clients relax and overcome the stigma of seeking therapy or other services.
Jeremy Dixon, 13, of Toledo has been going to HYPE for about three years. He said staff has helped him manage his anger and bring his grades up from C’s and D’s to all A’s. He learned how to calm himself in more positive ways than yelling and how to study more effectively.
“I look at every question harder than I did, and I study more,” he said.
Cassius Brown, 16, of Toledo has been a client for more than a year. He said HYPE has helped him with his anxiety and he leaned heavily on his counselors through the past year’s instability.
“I felt very out of place. Everything just went upside down,” he said. “They helped me try to get on my own feet and figure out how I could adjust to things.”
HYPE obtained at three-year accreditation from Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities last summer, adding it to its 2018 accreditation from the Ohio Department of Mental Health & Addiction Services.
Before cutting the ribbon Saturday at the new office, Mrs. Alexander said building HYPE into what it is now has been an amazing journey.
“It’s still a ride, and I love this ride,” she said.