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By Kelly Davis, Associate Vice President of Peer and Youth Advocacy at Mental Health America

Even before COVID-19, there was growing distress and a need for mental health resources among young people. Now, the need for these resources is becoming even more urgent. With the increasing attention and investment in youth mental health, we must use this momentum to make critical cultural changes to the field, including amplifying and expanding the ideas, leadership, and initiatives of young people.

So often, young people's perspectives are excluded from resources that have profound impacts on their lives. While many young people are making changes in their communities, Mental Health America (MHA) research has found that only 1 in 4 young people believe that they can make a difference in their communities' mental health. This lack of empowerment creates a significant gap, excluding the perspectives needed to change services and supports.

We must understand where young people are and what they view as barriers in creating impact in awareness initiatives to peer support programs to policy leadership and more. As players in the field, organizations must lift young leaders' work and their voices. They must engage the many young people who want to make a difference but do not feel supported in doing so.

To help fill this gap and create accessible resources, MHA's Youth Engagement Survey is designed to identify young people's perspectives and mental health advocacy needs. This survey will inform new resources that support young people in making a difference in mental health, no matter their starting point.

As we try to meet the needs of young people, we must listen to them and build resources that promote wellbeing and empowerment. We encourage our partners and leaders in the field to share the survey to help us create supports that empower young leaders to change the present and future of mental health.

Complete and share the survey here. The survey closes on Friday, April 30.

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

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