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World Mental Health Day Is About Finding Solutions

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October 10th is World Mental Health Day. But for many Americans, this issue is top of mind every day. A recent survey found that even as the pandemic continues to disrupt lives and livelihoods around the world, mental health has replaced COVID as Americans’ top health concern.

In August, our partner The AAKOMA Project published a first-of-its-kind report looking specifically at the mental health of youth of color. The major finding? More than half of the nearly 3,000 young people surveyed are struggling with anxiety and depression. What’s more, 30 percent said they didn’t receive the treatment they needed.

This data reflects what many mental health advocates already know: There is tremendous unmet need for mental health care services in the U.S. And too many young people—especially youth of color and LGBTQ+ youth—are failed by outdated and inequitable systems.

As part of our work to advance social progress in the United States and remove the barriers holding people back, Pivotal Ventures is proud to partner with organizations working to improve access to culturally relevant mental health care services and provide resources to young people and their caregivers.

To mark World Mental Health Day, we’re lifting up some of their most creative solutions.

Using Technology to Improve Wellbeing for Young People

Through their Headstream Accelerator, our partners at Headstream support entrepreneurs with digital solutions to the mental health crisis. This year’s cohort demonstrates how technology can help young people feel seen and supported, normalize seeking help, and improve access to care.

For example, a group of teenagers joined forces with a teacher to found This Teenage Life, a podcast that allows young people to explore important topics like navigating therapy, starting a new school, and coming out as LGBTQ+.

Similarly, a group of young people ages 13-18 worked with innovators at the Peer Health Exchange to co-design selfsea, an inclusive digital community for young people to discuss their identity, mental health, and sexual health. And Hafeezah Muhammad's startup Youme is a healthcare company that provides culturally competent mental healthcare to both teens and their families.

Resources for Caregivers

Just as young people need more and better access to mental health resources, it’s also important to equip their caregivers with the tools they need to offer meaningful support.

That’s where the Sound It Out campaign comes in. By collaborating with artists like KAMAUU and Lauren Jauregui, the campaign uses the power of music to help parents and caregivers have important conversations about emotional wellbeing with their middle schoolers. The Sound It Out website offers multiple guides created specifically for caregivers, as well as an album of original songs that musicians produced based on real-life conversations between children and caregivers.

As part of Sound It Out’s back-to-school campaign, they are offering a number of new resources for caregivers, including Six Ways to Help Your Child During the Back to School Season.
Thumbnail for a video featuring a young black boy listening to red haedphones.

Howie and the Howl Music Video (feat. KAMAUU) l Middle School Mental Health l Ad Council

Working Toward a More Hopeful Future

There’s no question that the last few years have been especially challenging for young people and their caregivers. But there are reasons to be optimistic.

For example, The AAKOMA Project also found that many youth of color feel supported and cared for. More than 77 percent of the young people surveyed said that they have at least one person who they feel loves them and at least one person who they can trust. And, encouragingly, more than 61 percent of said they are hopeful for the future.

When we consider all of these creative efforts to rewrite the story of mental health in this country—many of them led by young people themselves—hopeful is exactly how we feel too.
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