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headshots of all the Youth Mental Health Leaders Council members

The 2022-2023 Mental Health America Young Mental Health Leaders Council (YMHLC) represents young leaders from across the U.S. who have created programs and initiatives that fill gaps in traditional mental health services in their communities. This year’s cohort is working to address mental health across many areas including education, housing, foster care, addiction recovery, and state-level policy.

Over the next several weeks, get to know the 10 amazing individuals using their lived experience and youth perspective to make big differences in the lives of those around them.

Name: Crystal Widado  
Pronouns: they/them  
Location: Los Angeles, California  
School: Glendora High School  
Leadership and other positions: Intersectional mental health activist and student journalist  
Social media: @crystalwidado on Instagram and @CWidado on Twitter

Why did you want to join the YMHLC?

Throughout the last few years of my own advocacy journey, I've been looking for more individuals who are committed to not just spreading awareness, but bringing real and sustainable change to their individual communities. Thus, I am honored to be a part of MHA's YMHLC cohort, which has stood out to me as a group of individuals committed to finding solutions and mitigating the mental health crisis.

Tell us about your work and interests.

I'm passionate about building solidarity and sustainable organizations within the mental health advocacy field. In the past few years, I've led multiple youth organizations such as Mind Out Loud, Each Mind, and local community organizations toward a more intersectional understanding of mental health and taking action to protect marginalized communities.

What is the biggest lesson you have learned from other YMHLC members?

Through my fellow YMHLC members, I've learned how much work needs to be done on both an internal and external level. While there is obviously a growing mental health crisis out there that needs to be addressed, my cohort has taught me so much about reimagining organizing to be more sustainable and democratic for all.

What are your mental health advocacy goals?

Too much of the status quo revolves around addressing surface-level issues in an individualistic lens and not a collective struggle against systems of oppression. I hope to be a part of the change that builds a more sustainable, yet critical, field for myself and young people around me.

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Funded, in part, by a donation from JCPenney.

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