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About our youth mental health reports

Mental Health America's Youth Leadership reports capture the invaluable insights and recommendations of youth voices. Young people aren't just the subject of our reports - they're also authors, collaborators, and contributors shedding light on youth mental health issues while inspiring and guiding the efforts led by youth nationwide.

Our reports have appeared in The New York Times, NPRInside Higher EdWHSV-TV, and The San Diego Union-Tribune. They 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.

featured reports

Challenging, Sustaining, and Evolving: An Anthology on Youth Mental Health Advocacy (and Hope)

Amid this youth mental health crisis, several young advocates have emerged to challenge the status quo, insisting that the world pay attention. Young people have mobilized, organized, and fought to usher in a new era of mental health advocacy, and they are finally being invited to the table.

This anthology is a reflection on the complexities that young people are confronted with in the world of mental health activism – as told firsthand by the members of MHA’s YLC. In this report, you’ll hear from six different YLC members about their own advocacy journeys, with their lived experiences and individual voices at the forefront.

Download Anthology on Youth Mental Health Advocacy

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

Students need more mental health support, and campus peer programs are an essential part of the solution. While campus administrators' concerns about peer programs are well documented, the experiences of students are rarely highlighted and often lack connection to the decades of expertise from the mental health peer support movement.

To address this gap, we surveyed and interviewed leaders and students in college mental health peer support programs. This paper combines these findings with foundational resources from the greater peer support movement to address student-identified issues like training, sustainability, and protecting students' rights.

Download Peer Support in College Mental Health Initiatives report

Youth and Young Adult Peer Support: Expanding Community-Driven Mental Health Resources

With support from Well Being Trust, this paper is a call to invest in a full continuum of youth peer support to address the growing youth mental health crisis.

The report explores the shortcomings of existing approaches, contrasted with effective practices that enable young people to support one another – including shared language, creative expression, and youth peer specialist services. We offer example programs, recommendations, barriers, and key considerations in advancing youth peer support.

Download Youth and Young Adult Peer Support report

Building Power to Build A Mentally Healthy World: Supporting and Advancing Youth Leadership

Youth voices are essential to addressing the current mental health crisis, yet young people’s perspectives and ideas are often dismissed. Power imbalances must be understood and shifted to build long-lasting, sustainable, and systemic change.

This report from MHA’s 2021-2022 Young Leaders Council provides guiding recommendations for creating youth leadership programs that support youth as people, in relationships, and as part of larger social change ecosystems.

Download Building Power to Build a Mentally Healthy World report

our reports in the news

To solve the youth mental health crisis, stop looking to adults
When youth are brought in and supported, real and meaningful change happens

Teens are advocating for mental health days off school
Faced with high stress levels among adolescents and a mental health crisis that includes worsening suicide rates, some states are now allowing students to declare a mental health day.

Why aren't more students seeking mental health support?
Many students who need resources aren't receiving them, but colleges can take some key steps to lower the barrier.

College-aged students are facing barriers to accessing mental health services
A new report from Mental Health America shows college students face barriers when trying to access services for mental health.

explore all past reports

Supporting College Students: Mental Health And Disability in Higher Education

Despite growing attention to well-being and mental health conditions in higher education, conversations and recommendations often exclude students with mental health disabilities.

This paper from MHA’s 2019-2020 Collegiate Mental Health Innovation Council offers recommendations for campuses to improve accessibility for students with mental health disabilities. It highlights themes including the absence of disability education on college campuses, inaccessible accessibility services, and barriers to the use of disability accommodations.

Download Supporting College Students report

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

There was already a mental health crisis among young people when their lives were disrupted by COVID-19. The pandemic’s health impact was compounded by the political environment and racial reckoning in the U.S.

This report provides an analysis of young people’s wants, hopes for the future, and goals for mental health resources and advocacy in a year of unprecedented large-scale crises. The report shares the perspectives of 1,906 young survey respondents and provides examples of youth-driven programs that respond to the needs they identified.

Download Young People's Mental Health in 2020 report

2020 Disability and Campus Mental Health Report

The COVID-19 pandemic had a significant impact on college students’ well-being, including students with mental health diagnoses.

To understand the experiences of students with mental health diagnoses during the pandemic, Mental Health America surveyed 471 college students who identified as having mental health disabilities about their academic experiences and needs during this time.

Download 2020 Disability and Campus Mental Health report

The 2018-2019 CMHIC Report: Making Space for Mental Health on Campus

This report from MHA’s 2018-2019 Collegiate Mental Health Innovation Council emphasizes how schools and students can make mental health resources more accessible by building them into the everyday lives of students and the places where they want to be.

Download 2018-2019 CMHIC report

The 2017-2018 CMHIC Report: Beyond Awareness: Student-led Innovation in Campus Mental Health

The report from MHA’s 2017-2018 Collegiate Mental Health Innovation Council focuses on the power of student leadership in disability supports, peer support, and technology in campus mental health. It includes summaries of youth-driven programs that can be expanded upon and replicated on other campuses.

Download 2017-2018 CMHIC report