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Alexandria, VA—Mental Health America (MHA) today is thrilled to announce our new Young Mental Health Leaders Council. Since 2017, MHA has identified young leaders ages 18-25 who have created programs and initiatives that fill gaps in mental health supports and resources in their communities.

“MHA is always looking for new, innovative ways to support and reach our youth struggling with their mental health," said MHA President and CEO Schroeder Stribling. “The Young Mental Health Leaders Council is an exciting group of people with energetic and fresh ideas on how to better the mental health of their peers. We look forward to working with such a dynamic group of advocates.”

This year’s cohort of 10 includes youth from across the country who will participate in monthly virtual meetings over a six-month term, in addition to receiving one-on-one mentoring. Members will contribute to MHA content and an annual report on expanding or replicating their ideas. Council members will also receive opportunities to present at MHA local and national events and with MHA partners.

To support the selected youth, JCPenney has allocated $50,000 of its total $100,000 2022 MHA donation to support the program, including a $1,000 stipend to each council member to support their participation.

“JCPenney has a long tradition of investing in young people through inclusive access to education, job readiness, and health and well-being,” said Andre Joyner, JCPenney Chief HR officer and JCPenney Communities Foundation Board president. “Our donation to MHA represents JCPenney’s commitment to helping young people reach their friends, peers, and classmates struggling with mental health.”

The 2022-2023 Young Mental Health Leaders Council participants include:

  • Mariama Bah (she/her), Raleigh, North Carolina
  • Jose Caballero (he/him), Miami, Florida
  • Abdullah Elahi (he/him), Germantown, Tennessee
  • Savannah Frye (she/her), Chantilly, Virginia
  • Jill King (she/her), Statesboro, Georgia
  • Maya Nittoor (they/them), Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Zain Rasheidi Jackson-Brown (he/she/they), Lancaster, California
  • Rei Scott (he/xe), Columbus, Ohio
  • Faria Tavacoli (she/her), Las Vegas, Nevada
  • Crystal Widado (she/they), Glendora, California

“The youth mental health crisis has only worsened in recent years,” said MHA Associate Vice President of peer and youth advocacy Kelly Davis. “Young people are living in a world far different from anything we have seen before. To meet the needs of the moment, young people’s leadership is essential to how we move forward.”

Learn more and read each member’s bio here.


About Mental Health America

Mental Health America (MHA) is the nation’s leading community-based nonprofit dedicated to addressing the needs of those living with mental illness and promoting the overall mental health of all. MHA’s work is driven by its commitment to promote mental health as a critical part of overall wellness, including prevention services for all; early identification and intervention for those at risk; integrated care, services, and supports for those who need them; with recovery as the goal. Learn more at