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.
We offer a candid exploration of what it means to be a young person in advocacy spaces and the truths that often go unspoken – the victories, defeats, hope, adversity, and everything in between. Our aim is to fill in the gaps and embrace the nuances of youth activism, driven ultimately by the belief in a just and compassionate future for all.
It is an impossible task for anyone to feel like a mouthpiece for an entire generation, so we remind you that this anthology is inclusive but not exhaustive, and while these experiences may be relatable, they are not universal.
These stories are not shared lightly – please listen closely, and find the larger critique and vision for the mental health movement within them. We invite readers to embrace the imperfection, sit comfortably in the gray areas, and allow challenges to established assumptions.
“My understanding of advocacy evolved over time. I realized that advocacy meant more than just awareness; it meant providing tangible solutions.”
— Mariama Bah
“In navigating life, failure, transitions, and mistakes, I have learned that the human capacity for hope is strong. Even when you are told there is no hope, somehow you still manage to find it.”
— Jose Caballero
“My experience with this movement is complex, not because I am weak, but because I truly care about the work I do."
— Crystal Widado
“As I met more of my community and continued to see myself in my peers, becoming an advocate for my community felt inevitable. ”
— Jill King
“The people in the group became my friends, my confidants, my mentors, and my heroes. They were open about their own recovery journeys, and that, in turn, made me feel safe enough to be open about mine.”
— Savannah Frye
“ I am a community advocate. I am a young person. I am everything they tried to erase – I am alive. ”
— Faria Tavacoli