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  • Young leaders share hope, challenges, and frustrations while working to reverse dire mental health crisis in the U.S. 
  • “Young people are often stigmatized for their attempts to voice their hopelessness, inaccurately portrayed as ‘lazy’ or even ‘attention-seeking.’” Faria Tavacoli, YLC member 
  • “Even when you are told there is no hope, somehow you still manage to find it.” Jose Caballero, YLC member 
  • “I got into mental health activism in middle school because I needed a reason to live.” Crystal Widado, YLC member

Alexandria, VA – As part of its focus on the health and well-being of future generations, systemic reforms, and embracing new frontiers, Mental Health America (MHA) today released a report written by members of its Young Leaders Council that breaks down lived experiences in youth mental health advocacy.

The report, Challenging, Sustaining, and Evolving: An Anthology on Youth Mental Health Advocacy (and Hope), takes a hard look at how the younger generation is trying to change the mental health crisis trajectory, their experiences, and what is and is not working in established systems.

“Each year, we ask youth mental health leaders to dig deep into advocacy issues to find out what is and isn’t working because Mental Health America believes young people must be involved in decision-making regarding issues that affect them,” said MHA Vice President of Peer and Youth Advocacy Kelly Davis. “While MHA provides the platform for youth to connect, collaborate, and communicate their ideas, these young people are taking the lead, using their living experience, to improve youth and young adult well-being nationwide.”

The members of the 2022-2023 cohort, which was made up of leaders ages 18-25 who created programs and initiatives that fill gaps in mental health supports and resources, that authored the report are: Mariama Bah, Jose Caballero, Abdullah Elahi, Savannah Frye, Jillian King, Maya Nitoor, Rei Scott, Faria Tavacoli, and Crystal Widado, in addition to Jackie Menjivar, MHA manager of peer and youth advocacy. From an immigrant leaving a dictatorship to sexual assault and trauma survivors, each author brings a unique perspective to this report.

“Whether you are a young person looking to get into advocacy, an adult trying to understand how youth view the world, or someone with years of nonprofit experience looking to improve the system, this report provides that insight,” Davis said.

Read the full report here and learn more about the Young Leaders Council here.


About Mental Health America

Mental Health America is the nation’s leading community-driven nonprofit dedicated to promoting mental health and well-being, resilience, recovery, and closing the mental health equity gap. Mental Health America’s work is driven by its commitment to promote mental health as a critical part of whole-person health, including prevention services for all; early identification and intervention for those at risk; and integrated care, services and supports for those who need them. Learn more at