Teen Mental Health Speaker for More Than Three Decades
Welcome, my friend. I’m truly honored you’ve come to my page.
I’m Jeff Yalden. I’m certainly not perfect. Like so many of you, I’ve made some mistakes. One thing I am truly grateful for is that I’ve never been the victim. I’ve always pulled myself up and become the victor. I’ve never been bitter, I’ve always tried to look at it and become better.
I’ve taken my past, realized I was part of the problem. I accepted responsibility and did something about it. Now, I am part of the solution and as a result , I am living my best life doing incredible things I never thought I would ever do, or have such an impact as a mental health speaker – teens, parents, schools, and working with mental health professionals all over the world.
To my fans, my friends, my family, and to those that have trusted in me as a mental health speaker, motivational speaker, counselor/therapist I can’t thank you enough for your support and trust in me. I take great responsibility in my work, my message, and to the many clients I work with every week. The best is yet to come.
Being Vulnerable in My Message and Talks
Life is a learning curve and everything we go through teaches us and shapes us. I feel that sharing my story and being vulnerable in front of my audience makes me relatable. I have a voice and a presence that I don’t want to cheat anyone from hearing the truth. Whether I am speaking to teens, teachers, mental health professionals or working with individual clients and support groups I want to advocate for recovery and wellness. I want to teach that it’s okay to not be okay, but it’s not okay to not be okay and to not do anything about it. Have courage and inspire others. With my platform, my experiences, my wisdom and what I’ve been through being vulnerable and transparent is my strength and with that I am relatable and trustworthy to my audience. This is where the work is done and the message is received. I’m the best version of myself and humble enough to grow and learn every day as I continue my personal and professional journey. That’s a result of doing the work and looking myself in the mirror day-to-day.
Where It Started and What Happened
I was born at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD the middle child of a military family.
I was raised on Long Island. I grew up in Port Jeff, NY – a quaint waterfront community on the north shore of long island. I had the privilege of growing up with family all around. The three greatest women in my life were my mother, my aunt and my grandmother. We were a close family. I wish people could have experienced family the way I did. Unfortunately, I didn’t appreciate it then nearly as much as I do today.
Junior Year of High School We Moved
My junior year of high school my family moved from Long Island to Hollis, New Hampshire. A move that rocked my world. Can you say adjustment disorder?
My life completely changed as I lost my drive, my dream, my first girlfriend and I became very depressed and even suicidal. I was hospitalized, lost, scared, and it’s not that I wanted to die, but I wanted this incredible amount of pain to end. I withdrew from everyone and everything. My family tried to help, but I pushed and resisted and I can’t explain why.
I was traumatized and pushed everyone away. This led to me acting out looking for answers, meaning and direction, but not asking for help. I didn’t know any better. My parents were great, I just didn’t talk. I didn’t even know how reckless I was in my bad attitude, making bad choices, and my behavior. I never did drugs. I never drank. I was always a good kid and liked by everyone, but I was misdirected and lost.
I took the SAT’s twice and received very low scores. I struggled with self-esteem and acceptance. I suffered from a stutter, a facial tic, bad acne, and a learning disability. Within days of graduation, I found out I was graduating. I graduated 128th in a class of 133 from Bishop Guertin High School in Nashua, New Hampshire.
My father gave me a challenge. Save $2,000 for college or he wasn’t paying. I saw that as the biggest obstacle in the world. I was kicked out of the house and looking back they did me a favor. I would have kicked me out too. Bad attitude, bad choices and bad behavior.
Not Smart Enough to Attend College
I didn’t think I was smart enough and I wasn’t ready. Although I was accepted by 3 of the 19 (rejected by 16 of the 19) colleges to which I applied, my sense of inadequacy was so overpowering, I was afraid to attend. The schools that did accept me are Jacksonville University, Northeastern, and Plymouth State College. It also didn’t help that my focus was on a girl rather than going to school and living my dream as a college athlete.
Mr. New Hampshire Male America
A turning point came one month after high school, when I won the title of “Mr. New Hampshire Male America” and later Male America’s “Mr. Personality.” Shortly thereafter, I enlisted in the United States Marine Corps. Learning the virtues of self-reliance and teamwork, I became a two-time “Marine of the Year” recipient and played for the All-Marine-Corps basketball team. The military was probably the best thing that ever happened to me. Either I was going to succeed or fail miserably. I succeeded being a Marine, but personally, I kept failing.
I was diagnosed with a learning disability growing up. I am not sure I was learning disabled as much as it was mental illness. As I look back on my youth it makes so much sense – I wasn’t learning disabled. That was a label given to me. It took years to figure out, but I was diagnosed with bi-polar type 2, which is often confused with ADHD, but how can you fix or treat what you don’t know?
It took many years, many failures, many setbacks to finally realize I was the problem. In my adult years, I started therapy because I needed to find out what role I played in the misfortunes. It was in the years of therapy and counseling that I truly grew and became the person that was going to be the solution and invest in my mental health. I aspired to be the man that I wanted to be and things started to change, but I had to change. I was diagnosed by my psychiatrist as a man living with mental illness. I am a man that proudly lived with major depression, bi-polar type 2, and PTSD. I say proudly because the moment I was diagnosed was an answer to so many questions I had about my life, my failures, my mistakes, and other major situations in my life. I accepted it proudly and knew I wasn’t going to be a victim of mental illness, but I was going to be a victor and not be ashamed.
The first thing I did was apologize to a lot of people I have hurt.
Today, I am truly proud that I asked for help and made mental health my passion personally and professionally. I’ve recently been examined and I don’t meet the criteria as a man living with Bi-Polar Type 2, PTSD, or Major Depression. I do meet the criteria for mild depression and anxiety. I believe this is a result of my self-care, my education and doing the work every day. Also, being aware, finding tools, being in counseling and on medication. Proud to be me today and continuing to grow and learn. Proud to share my life and message giving hope to others.
My Greatest Regret in Life
My greatest regret is I had hurt people in the path of getting to know me and being the man I have become. That is my biggest regret and greatest pain in my heart, but I had to forgive myself as well as ask for forgiveness from others.
I am not the same person I was, even five years ago.
A Nice Little Video: My Life on the Road
How I Became a Youth Motivational Speaker to Speak at High School Motivational Assemblies
United States Marine Corps: Stationed at Cecil Field Marine Barracks Security Forces
The phone rang about 0900 (military time) in April 1992. I was stationed at Cecil Field Marine Corps Security Forces in Jacksonville, FL. The phone call was from a Lt. Colonel at Apopka High School asking if we could send a Marine to speak to the ROTC Cadets about Student Leadership. I had answered the phone. I thought to myself, “Hell yeah, I can do that!”
The following week I was at Apopka High School speaking to the JROTC students. What a blast that was and I continued traveling down every week to work with those students.
I was hooked and knew I wanted to be a youth motivational speaker and speak to teens in high school assemblies. Who would have thought that a career was born?
A Child Having a Child
I was a great Marine, but personally I was still broken. By time I was honorable discharged from the Marine Corps in April 1994 I was divorced with two kids. I couldn’t even babysit a cactus and I had two children. I wanted to be a career Marine, but it wasn’t right for me at that time. It was an incredible four years that matured me and something I needed. Semper Fi, Marines!
After getting out of the Marine Corps, I had moved back home to Hollis, New Hampshire.
Unfortunately, this failed relationship sent me spiraling backwards, and soon I found myself hospitalized with depression and suicidal ideation, again. The pain and no coping skills and not speaking out asking for help.
Upon being honorably discharged from the Marines, I was left to face the $64,000 question: “Who am I, and what do I want out of life?” I realized that my destiny was in his my hands. I knew I had to do something and not be a victim. I worked hard to figure this out.
Teaching and Coaching High School
My two roommates were both high school teachers and coaches at Hollis-Brookline High School. They were in pretty well with the school administration and before I knew it, I was a full-time substitute teacher and coach at Hollis-Brookline High School. I was making $42 a day and loved every minute of it. Coaching basketball and soccer and teaching on $42 a day.
I loved being a teacher and teaching life, self-confidence, and helping teens navigate their challenges. I loved sharing my story and getting to know the students and families. Being a teacher was the greatest job, but I’d have to go back to school and get my degree. I did and got a degree in aeronautical aviation because I wanted to fly.
Jimmy Valvano and Lou Holtz Motivational Speakers
I will always remember ironing my clothes in my room at night getting ready for the next day at school. While ironing my clothes I would watch Jimmy Valvano and his famous ESPN ESPY’s Speech, “Don’t Give Up . . .” I would also watch videos of Lou Holtz and listen to Lou Holtz on the cassette tapes in my car. I wanted so bad to be a motivational speaker.
My roommates would pass by my room and laugh at me and call out, “Wooh . . . DUMB ASS!” and make fun of me. I was constantly the butt of their jokes.
Listen, I had just gotten out of the Marine Corps. I was making $42 a day, eating their food, paying $100 a month in rent for a closet. I could take it.
I just knew what I wanted and I wasn’t going to let anything stop me.
Teen Mental Health Speaker and Teen Suicide Prevention Expert – Three Decades Now
Holy Cow! I can’t believe that I have traveled all over the world doing something I truly love. I started as a Youth Motivational Speaker telling my story and inspiring young people. But, I’ve evolved so much as a youth speaker and a teen mental health speaker.
Speaking to audiences whether teens, teachers, counselors, mental health professionals and my client base is a blessing. I speak about what I most often need to learn and every time I am inspired more and more.
I am such a better person today and I just love who I am, who I am becoming, and the journey. Sharing this all without needing to be validated and giving my heart to our youth is all I ever wanted to do.
I’ve always wanted to be a teacher and a coach – I am a teacher and a coach. I’m just teaching in a different classroom.
MTV Celebrity Teen and Family Life Coach
I received a phone call one day from MTV in New York and suddenly I became a Celebrity Teen and Family Life Coach for their hit reality television show MADE. My show ran from 20015-2012. It was my show that was their most watched episode. Being the Life Coach and helping this young lady graduate in six weeks was such an amazing experience. We are still friends today and she inspires me with how much she has grown. Wow.
I was invited by students to be a TEDx Speaker when they applied to host a TEDx event at their school.
I’ve been an expert consultant to lawyers in courtrooms on the area of technology and teens, teen suicide, homicidal investigations.
My greatest accomplishment is the many communities I’ve been so fortunate to work with. Speaking to students, teachers, counselors, parents, and community leaders.
- A Community in Crisis, Woodstock, Canada invited me in after 5 teen suicides in one week.
- Alaska Community: 18 Suicides in 18 Months.
- Indiana: 9 Suicides in one year including 4 in 6 weeks.
- North Dakota: Suicide and Tragic Car Accident takes two teens from a small school.
- A Texas school had a teen suicide INSIDE the school.
- Iowa had a suicide the morning I was there. Student was hanging from the basketball hoop in the gymnasium.
- A principal’s son ended his life rocking the school. Another small mid-western community, it was the principal’s niece.
I’ve been absolutely blessed to be a trusted source to bring the school communities back from teen suicide and loss of teens to car accidents, accidental deaths, or whatever tragic things that have happened in so many school communities.
Second Divorce and Near Death Experience
In 2013, after nearly 17 incredible years with an amazing woman, we got divorced. Again, another moment of growth where I needed to revisit and spend more time realizing I am the problem. Time to be solution oriented again.
Through this and the help of my therapist, I found the self-love, forgiveness, acceptance of me, and have become passionate about self-growth and being humble. The work is never done.
This is also the time in my life when I avoided my health and was diagnosed with diabetes and ended up hospitalized. The doctor gave me a year to live. I was given a year to live.
Getting my weight under control and my health back in order I was living in Myrtle Beach, SC I started CrossFit. Didn’t take long, I suffered a sports injury in CrossFit where I needed emergency spinal cord fusion. Spiraling backwards into major depression, my diabetes created more and more issues. Hospitalized. The doctor told me I was a ticking time bomb and that I wasn’t going to make it.
Emergency Weight Loss Surgery
Listen, living with bi-polar isn’t all bad. I don’t have a problem making decisions when I know I need to make decisions. This was a moment where I needed to make a decision and I made a decision, but I did do a lot of research (kind of). I opted for weight loss surgery. In Mexico. Yes, wasting no-time, I went to Tijuana, Mexico within two weeks of making the decision and had surgery by renowned doctor, Dr. Ortiz. My dad came with me but thought I was crazy and I think I was but it was do or die and I wasn’t ready to die.
He saved my life!
Divorced. Diabetes. Spinal Cord Fusion.
You can laugh, but seriously my Triglycerides were 2784. Now, 178. Blood sugar was 550, now 110. A1C was 15.5 and now 6.7. I was given less than a year to live. What a change. I needed to make that decision to go to Mexico.
Yoga, self-care, and a good reality check. It was scary.
You can read all about this in my best-selling book, BOOM! This book tells the whole story.
I’ll Always Be a High School Motivational Speaker
I am a lot different today as a youth motivational speaker and high school speaker. I speak mostly on teen mental health and suicide prevention, but the love I have for working with schools hasn’t changed one bit.
Even better, I’m just a better man today than ever before. It’s my story. My journey. The fact that I am not afraid to be transparent and real. I am not ashamed or embarrassed. It’s part of the journey of life and it’s been a gift.
Doing the work. Taking personal responsibility. Spending time in the mirror. Recovery. Self-Care.
Celebrity Youth Motivational Speaker & Teen Mental Health Expert
My journey has been a blessing and an opportunity to really understand the pain and brokenness that plaque our communities. It’s been tough in some cases. I’ve had days and moments where I was questioning if I could handle the real issues I’ve had to address and be strong for. Thankfully, I am not afraid to say, “I need help . . . ” and time with my therapist and self-care.
I’ve also had many moments where I literally have saved lives and met with the individuals years later and see where they have come, from where they have been. Too many to think about, but it’s the most rewarding part of all these years of hard work.
I’ve spoken in 50 states, 49 countries, and every province in Canada.
Incredible the work I’ve been commissioned to do. From Teens to Adults, High Schools, Middle Schools, College Campuses, Mental Health Professionals, Doctors, Nurses, Parents, Counselors and Therapists, Corporate Clients, College Athletes, Professional Athletes, Celebrities and their Families; I’ve addressed so many different types of audiences in my nearly three decades.
I’ve become highly regarded as the world’s number one teen mental health speaker, consultant, expert witness, and advocate on mental health and teen suicide. I’ve been a leading authority figure on teen suicide crisis intervention and an expert and suicide prevention trainer. My work has been in more school communities than I could have ever imagined.
The Pandemic . . . COVID
Just as my health was getting back to normal and I was in the best mindset ever, the pandemic hit and my travels came to a stop.
Another setback I was faced with, but you can be the victim or the victor. You can be bitter or better. I choose to be the victor and rise through all challenges.
I have been doing yoga for nearly five years and through the pandemic my yoga practice became my self-care. Nearly every day, I practiced yoga, meditation, and eventually took the 200 hr. Yoga Teachers Certification. In July 2020, I got certified to teach yoga.
Yoga has been such an incredible part of my journey to who I am and becoming, as my counselor says, “A highly functional man living with mental illness.” Maybe it is the yoga that changed my diagnosis.
I would recommend Yoga to anyone. Maybe someday I’ll have a Yoga Studio, but before then, I have a lot more speaking to do.
Teen Suicide Prevention Course for School Staff & Community
Bring Jeff’s Suicide Prevention On-Line Course to your School Community: Teens, Staff, Counselors, Parents and Community. (CLICK HERE).
Today, I live in Jacksonville, Florida 100% FREE of diabetes. Off all medications related to diabetes, blood pressure, and cholesterol. I am down 100 lbs and practice yoga almost every day.
I am living a more simple life taking care of my health and my well-being.
I am a certified educator in Suicide Prevention, Crisis Intervention, and Trauma Situations. I continually educate myself through books, courses, and workshops. As an advocate for Mental Health, Teen Depression, Anxiety, Teen Suicide, I strongly encourage my audiences to not be afraid to ask for help and open their heart while losing their ego. I have my bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Capella University and working on my master’s degree.
Namaste, my friends. Thanks again for visiting. I hope we get to meet and work together.
I’ve written books . . . Best-Sellers!
I’m a four-time Amazon bestselling author, including my recent book, TEEN SUICIDE: The “WHY” Behind America’s Teen Suicide Epidemic and BOOM! One Word to Inspire Action, Deliver Rewards, and Positively Affect Your Life Every Day. (CLICK HERE).
Youth Mental Health Speaker for School Communities & College Campuses Talking Mental Health
Engaging. Real. Inspirational. Heartfelt.
I take research, statistics, and clinical information and communicate it to non-clinical professionals in a practical, engaging and user-friendly manner.
- (Click Here) to preview his speaking to school communities programs.
- (Click Here) for my brochure to share with your team.
- (Click Here) Teen Suicide Book
- (Click Here) Suicide Prevention On Demand for School Staff, Parents, Community, and Teens
Touching Hearts & (Literally) Saving Lives
I work so hard to be present and to connect with my audiences.
I draw on the grace of that darkest hour to help today’s youth transform their own lives. I believe that success comes down to our worldview, and our relationships with others. I also believe that success in life – fulfillment and service – depends on the attitude we take from the moment we step out of bed. From there it’s our choices and our behavior.
Being a yogi has taught me to live with grace, compassion, empathy, and a stillness in my breathe, but a beat in my heart to give of myself so people can see the light from their darkness. I want to encourage and inspire; teach and give hope.
People treat us how we train them to treat us. When we unleash the best that is inside us, the world always mirrors it back. The goal is to radiate love and kindness at the same time we radiate our own self-respect. I am living proof of these miracles in transformation.
Celebrity Teen & Family Life Coach
From 2005-2011, I was featured as a celebrity teen and family life coach on MTV’s long-running reality show, MADE. Over the years, I’ve also appeared in numerous print, radio, and television interviews nationwide, to include: Fox, Fox News, USA Today, The Oprah Network, ESPN, CNN, NBC, SPIKE TV, A&E, CBS, ABC News, US News and World Report, MTV, and many others.
As a celebrity teen and family life coach, I dig deep and get to the heart of the matter – helping teens, young adults, families, and communities successfully navigate through life’s every day struggles and find real solutions to the challenges that come their way.
I’m a Gulf War Veteran proudly having honorably served in the United States Marine Corps.
Education & Memberships
Capella University – BS in Psychology
Daniel Webster College –
American Psychological Association
American Correctional Association
American Association of Suicidology
Society of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology
Forensic Committee, San Diego Psychological Association
National Partnership for Juvenile Services
International Association for Correctional and Forensic Psychology
For more information about my speaking, public appearances, media interviews, or to work with Jeff, please contact us.