Three Decades Speaking in Education
“I am proud of my journey. Who I am today is because I have accepted my flaws, I’ve learned, I acknowledge I am not perfect, I love my work, and I will continue to serve our youth, our teachers, and schools, and will continue to share my story. Thank you for your support!” – Jeff Yalden
I am not perfect. I’ve made a lot of mistakes, but I am living an incredible life doing things I never thought I would ever do, or have such an impact on my favorite people to work with – teens, parents, and schools. Learning from these mistakes I feel has made me relatable and a voice for our youth and mental health.
It’s been a journey of highs and lows. Ups and downs. Successes and failures. The older I get the more I learn. The older I get the more I have come to understand many things. The older I get, the better person I have become and continue to become.
Let’s start from the beginning . . .
I was born at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD to Robert and Claudia Yalden. They were my parents and they still are. My family is military.
I then 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. I was closest to my aunt, uncle, grandmother and grandfather. I
wish people could have had the childhood I had growing up with what I thought was the perfect family in the perfect community.
Moved from Port Jeff to Hollis, New Hampshire
My junior year of high school my family moved to Hollis, New Hampshire. A move that rocked my world.
Junior year and senior year of high school, I lost interest in everything including myself and the dream I once had. I was traumatized and lost. I was acting out looking for answers, 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 just lost and not thinking or asking for help.
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.
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.
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 for 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 – the bi-polar, but how can you fix or treat what you don’t know?
The defining life changing moment in my whole life is the moment I was diagnosed by my psychiatrist with mental illness. I am a man that proudly lives 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.
My Greatest Regret in Life
Today, I am proud of who I am and have come so far. 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
This was the defining moment of my life that led to me being a speaker.
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!”
The next week I drove two hours and spent an hour speaking to JROTC Students at Apopka High School.
That was it. I was hooked and knew I wanted to speak to teens. So, every day off I had, I drove two hours from Jacksonville, FL to Orlando, FL to work with these amazing young teens in the ROTC Program at Apopka High School. Who would have thought that a career was born?
Two Kids and a Divorce at 22 Years Old
I was honorably discharged from the United States Marine Corps in 1994. I wanted to stay and make it a career, but I knew that with my challenges, and being a lifelong Marine it probably wasn’t the right thing. So, it was an incredible four years that matured me and something I needed.
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.
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.
Teaching and Coaching High School
I was living with two friends who were both high school teachers and coaches at Hollis-Brookline High School. They were in pretty well with the school administration and before you 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.
I’ve never been a curriculum guy, so I knew I wanted more. I kept thinking of how much I loved speaking and sharing my story and talking to the students and my athletes about life. Being a teacher was the greatest job, but I’d have to go back to school and get my degree. With two kids and child support I made too many excuses to will my way through.
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.
Everytime my roommates would pass by my room they’d 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 and I loved making $42 a day and eating their food and asking for help all the time. What do you expect?
I just knew what I wanted and I wasn’t going to let anything stop me.
Nearly Three Decades speaking to Youth Audiences, Teachers, Parents, and Communities
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. I’ve evolved from just education, but I love education. I love our youth, our teachers, and I love speaking to parents today.
I love how much I grow each and every day learning so much about me. My mental illness, my self-care, my living with peace in my heart, presence in my travels and engagements.
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.
Jeff Yalden: Mental Health Speaker
I’ve been on MTV’s longest hit reality television show, MADE from 2015 – 2011. 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.
Second Divorce and Near Death Experience
In 2013, after nearly 17 incredible years with an amazing woman we got divorced. This is the time when I admitted to myself I am part of the problem with the issues and things in my life. This is the time in my life when I was properly diagnosed and I accepted it.
This is also the time in my life when I avoided my health and was diagnosed with diabetes and ended up hospitalized with less than a year to live.
Shortly thereafter 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. It was here that the doctor I gave me less than one year to live. The doctor told me I was a ticking time bomb.
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. 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.
He saved my life and today I credit this decision as another one of the best decisions I have made.
Divorced. Diabetes. Moved to Myrtle Beach, SC
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!
I’ll Always Be a High School Motivational Speaker
I am a better youth motivational speaker and mental health speaker today more so than ever before. It’s my story. My journey. The fact that I am not afraid to be transparent and real. I am me. I’m proud of the person I have become and know I still have a lot to learn and more to grow. Don’t we all?
Taking personal responsibility after the second divorce. I’ll always remember looking in the mirror asking, “What did I have to do with this?” It was here when I realized my issues with mental illness were far greater than I ever thought.
I realized I needed to make some major changes and there life significantly changed and continues to change. Therefore, I continually grow as a mental health advocate professionally and personally. I continue to grow as a person.
Celebrity Youth Motivational Speaker & Teen Mental Health Expert
I’m just amazed and very thankful that I have a platform to share everything I have learned: eduction, real life experiences, real life situations, and more. 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.
What is Next
I also have a Wood Shop. That is my outlet and part of my self-care.
I’m also in Yoga Training to become a Certified Yoga Teacher. 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.” 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.
Today, I live in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. 100% FREE of diabetes. Off all medications related to diabetes, blood pressure, and cholesterol. I am down 100 lbs and practice yoga everyday.
I am living a more simple life taking care of my health and my well-being.
Note, my personal mental health has never affected any program. I am very open as a man that lives with mental illness. I’m a professional too. Therefore, I know my limitations and I know how to take care of myself. My self-care morning routine is a practice that gets me up and moving to own the day and not let my emotions own me.
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.
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).
Plus, I just released another great PDF Booklet for Parents and Teens:
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.
The Jeff Yalden Foundation, Inc.
Having a non-profit foundation for mental health and suicide prevention isn’t easy, then again, nothing is. But, I am doing my best to advocate and make a difference.
We’d appreciate your support any way you could help or be a part of our mission.
Education & Memberships
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 the Jeff Yalden Foundation, Inc., please contact us.