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  • About MHA's Young Leaders Initiatives

About MHA's Young Leader Initiatives

our mission

Mental Health America's youth programs empower aspiring and established young advocates to ignite their communities and build a mentally healthy future for all. 

The world young people inhabit today is vastly different from the one in which our current mental health systems, services, and policies were developed. To truly uplift youth mental health, we need to embrace innovation — and let young people lead the way.

our impact

Through leadership development, policy, and research, we're cultivating the next generation of mental health leaders. Young people power all of our programs, where individuals, initiatives, and knowledge converge to transform youth mental health.

We provide young leaders with the tools they need to drive change in their communities. Our programs help young people expand their reach, grow their skills, and get connected to the greater ecosystem of mental health advocacy.

Over 100 young people have graduated from MHA's youth leadership programs, with over 2,000 applicants since the launch of our Young Leaders Council. 

Program graduates have gained leadership positions in the public and private sectors, including at Google, UNICEF, the National Academies of Sciences, and the White House.

Our youth leadership reports have been used to create policy and advocacy priorities, including updating federal regulations on mental disability-related discrimination and national and state school mental health policies.

Members of Young Leaders Council stand with MHA President and CEO Schroeder Stribling

our findings

Only 1 in 4 young people
think they can make a change in mental health in their communities.

(Young People's Mental Health in 2020: Hope, Advocacy, and Action for the Future)

30% of young people
want to connect with a community of mental health advocates.

(Young People's Mental Health in 2020: Hope, Advocacy, and Action for the Future)

58% of college peer programs
are interested in ongoing training and support from other peer programs.

(Peer Support in College Mental Health Initiatives: Learning from the Peer Support Movement)

Read our reports


Kelly Davis (she/her)

Vice President of Peer and Youth Advocacy at Mental Health America

Kelly leads Mental Health America's initiative to expand peer support and young adult leadership. She is passionate about lived experience-driven programs, policies, organizations, and research. Kelly has been awarded the Disruptive Innovator Award by the National Association of Peer Supporters and the National Peer Leader of the Year Award by Peerpocalypse. She recently earned her master's degree in nonprofit leadership at the University of Pennsylvania, where she served as a research assistant in the Perelman School of Medicine studying lived experience perspectives of inpatient psychiatric units. She is currently pursuing a certificate in mental health leadership from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. 

Kelly Davis headshot
Jackie Menjivar headshot

Jackie Menjivar (she/her)

Manager of Peer and Youth Advocacy at Mental Health America

Jackie oversees the day-to-day operations of MHA's youth leadership initiatives and develops content to promote youth leaders, reflect youth perspectives, and report on the evolving field of youth mental health. Before joining MHA, she served as content and creative strategist at youth-powered nonprofit Throughout her career, Jackie has sought to amplify the voices and needs of young people through education, advocacy, and storytelling. 

get in touch

Interested in learning more about our youth programs?