We\’ve been building an app for \”framilies.\” Framilies are any combination of youth and adults who want to radically support each other.


Jillian Domingue, Lucero\’s CEO, has a Bachelor\’s degree in Human Development and Family Sciences from The University of Texas and over a decade of experience building programs, products, and services to improve the lives of individuals and families. Her experience as foster mom and daily life as an adoptive mom to two young children inspire and influence her work developing Lucero.  Here she shares some of the passion she has for this important work.

  1. Can you share why you\’re so invested in teen and adolescent mental health?

 My drive to invest my time in teen and tween mental health comes from personal life experiences combined with the realization that the need for more accessible and effective resources is greater now than ever before. We have a youth mental health epidemic happening right now. Along with the crisis resources being developed and deployed, we need effective upstream solutions to help diminish the possibility of a mental health crisis for youth.

On a more personal level, I was the queer kid who navigated coming out at 16, triggering a process of navigating my own self-acceptance and self-love for several years.

I have also spent countless days trying to find and access mental health resources for youth in my care as a foster mom. One of the hardest days of my entire life was walking my foster daughter through the doors of a mental health hospital because we hadn’t been able to find the right resources in time. Nothing prepares you for the reality of realizing that as a mom, you can’t fix everything. It breaks you.

 As a mother, I’d do anything to go back in time years before our crisis, years before my foster daughter even showed up at my house, to give her, I, and the other foster parents in her life the skills, language, and tools to better navigate what the next five years of her life would throw her way.

Since time travel isn’t possible, I’m committed to doing everything I can to help other youth and families be more prepared through Lucero.

  1. What are you most excited about in terms of how people are now understanding that teens need more emotional support and proactive interventions to help them in daily lives?

I am most excited about inviting youth to design these resources together. Instead of retrofitting what has worked with adults, we have the opportunity to really listen, meet youth where they are, and design solutions with and for them.

In interviews with tweens and teens, one consistent theme is they don’t want to be told what to do. We can probably all agree that we were that teen/tween at one point or another. With clinical experts as part of the team to provide guardrails and share evidence-based tools, together we have the opportunity to really transform the youth experience– making self-care and radical support the norm.

  1. What is one key to good parent/teen communication around mental health wellness?

Normalize talking about mental health.

It’s not something “other families deal with”. It’s something we all deal with. It’s part of the human experience. 

As a mom who has gone through potty training twice, my kids and I have read countless books that normalize pooping. Including the book, “Everyone Poops” by Taro Gomi– which is a family favorite! 

Right along with that book, families should be reading “Everyone has Mental Health”. This is the level of normalizing that I feel mental health needs.

A friend recently shared that she’s started taking her daughter (age 3) to a therapist every 6-months for a check-up as a way to normalize the experience. You go to your pediatrician and dentist for regular check-ups, and we understand that preventative care keeps us healthy. I think this is an absolute genius way to help your kids always know from a very young age that there’s someone there when/if things get out of their control. There’s no shame in asking for help. Mental health is health, and I love the idea of normalizing it as such. 

  1. What is valuable in regard to teens having access to mental health mobile apps?

Youth 8-12 spend an average of 4-6 hours per day in front of a screen. With this number skyrocketing to up to 9 hours per day for teens. I think the most valuable impact of mental health apps is accessibility. It’s a resource youth can access 24/7 when they are out-and-about or in the privacy of their room at 3 am when they can’t fall asleep.

The second most valuable part of youth having access to mental health mobile apps on their phone is it starts to allow them to make a choice for where they spend their time. They become more consciously aware of options and the way certain apps make them feel vs. others.

  1. If you could give one piece of insight for practitioners working with teens and mental health what would that be?

Actively listen to youth. Even in small moments where you can give them their own agency to choose the questions they want to ask (or answer) can have great impact. Many youth we interview sound like either ships adrift at sea with no direction at all or like they are on a ship pulled by a rope in a direction they have no control over and aren’t too sure about. Actively listening to youth will start helping youth adjust their own sail or paddle their own oars–skills that can help them navigate all the future waves that life will inevitably bring. 

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