Hope, Advocacy and Action for the future

Much has been written about the mental health challenges young people are facing in 2020. The health and economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, changes in learning, missed milestones, and the racial reckoning in the United States have exacerbated an already existing mental health crisis.

In addition to the great need, there are many barriers to supporting young people’s mental health. Yet, young people are often not consulted in designing and allocating mental health services and resources. To have the greatest impact now and in the future, young people’s leadership and lived experience are critical. We must build on what has helped them and invest in what they feel would empower them to change their mental health and their communities’ mental health.

Mental Health America’s (MHA’s) new report, Young People’s Mental Health in 2020: Hope, Advocacy, and Action for the Future, shares the perspectives of 1,906 14-24-year-olds who completed our Young People’s Mental Health Survey through our online screening program, MHAScreening.org. Highlights from the survey include:

  • Access to mental health professionals and mental health breaks as part of work or school were the top resources young people requested to support their mental health.
  • Only 24% think training adults would help them with their mental health challenges, versus 47% who want to learn more about how to help their own mental health.
  • 45% of 14-18-year-olds are not hopeful about the future, and more than half of LGBTQ+ teens are not hopeful about the future.
  • Only 1 in 4 young people think they can make a change in mental health in their communities.
  • The top ways young people want support to make a difference include support for their own mental health, opportunities to learn about mental health, connection to a mental health advocacy community, and training to support their peers’ mental health.

In addition to their perspectives, the report includes examples of initiatives leading the way in addressing the needs identified in the survey. Featured programs include:

  • Mental Health Kingdom: A virtual mental health community led by a certified youth and young adult peer support specialist via Discord.
  • Mindful Minute by Mind Body Ambassadors: A student-led program that teaches mindfulness skills and builds mind-body practices into young people’s school days.
  • UpLift by Youth Era: A 5-day virtual event and training dedicated to providing young people the tools to support themselves and their peers.
  • DMV Students for Mental Health Reform: A coalition of young people dedicated to understanding, connecting, and advocating for the mental health needs of high school students.
  • Young Invincibles Rocky Mountain: An organization dedicated to empowering young people to advocate for policy change in their communities.

Download the report

For more information about young people’s perspectives and mental health leadership, check out MHA’s new website on Young Leaders in Mental Health.

Questions? Contact Kelly Davis at kdavis@mhanational.org.

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