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Giving Compass' Take:
· Rebecca Ruiz highlights eight mental health activists who are working to better the lives of those suffering from mental illnesses around the country.
· What role can funders play in supporting mental health activists?
· Read more about making mental health a priority.
If there's one thing 2018 has taught the world, it's that we shouldn't underestimate today's youth.
You've probably heard that they're organizing for gun violence prevention, defending LGBTQ rights, and defining global feminism. What you may know less about is the new generation of activists raising awareness about mental illness and developing innovative solutions to help bridge the gap between needing help and actually getting it.
These young advocates are developing apps, founding nonprofit organizations, coordinating fundraising drives, and building campus-wide support networks. They're taking advantage of the work activists have previously done to decrease the stigma of talking about mental health, and they're creating their own legacy by fundamentally changing the way young people discuss and seek help for mental illness.
Here are eight youth mental activists — many of whom also serve on MHA's council — whose work you should be paying attention to:
- Ose Arheghan - Arheghan, a 17-year-old from Shaker Heights, Ohio, who uses the pronoun "they," started their activism working on LGBTQ issues. Last year, Arheghan applied to join the youth ambassador council of The Trevor Project, a national nonprofit organization that provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to LGBTQ youth.
- Miana Bryant - When Bryant was in high school, she found herself in a "dark and low place" as she dealt with depression and bullying. In 2016, she founded The Mental Elephant, a multi-platform outlet that raises awareness about mental health.
- Gabby Frost - Frost, a 20-year-old rising junior at Drexel University, founded a suicide prevention initiative called the Buddy Project five years ago. The nonprofit pairs teens and young adults with a buddy, not as therapy or counseling but to help young people develop positive peer support relationships.
- Samuel Orley - In 2013, Orley's brother died by suicide. Ten months later, Orley began attending the University of Michigan, where his brother had gone, knowing he wanted to make a difference for students dealing with mental illness. He soon became a member of the Wolverine Support Network, a student organization that he says creates a "refreshingly vulnerable, empathetic, and inclusive space accessible to all University of Michigan students to be themselves and talk openly and honestly."
- Katie Regittko - Regittko, who identifies as queer, bisexual, and non-binary and uses the pronoun "they," experienced an eating disorder that prompted them to start sharing their story online. Eventually Regittko wanted to do more, particularly after losing a friend to anorexia, and reached out to the National Eating Disorders Association to get involved in the organization's work.
- Max Rothman - In the four years that Rothman, 22, spent at the University of Michigan, he served in leadership roles for WSN and advocated for mental health awareness through roles on the Central Student Government Mental Health Task Force, Athletes Connected, and Greek Life Mental Health Chairs. This year, he helped bring the rapper Logic to campus for a mental health awareness advocacy week.
- Satvik Sethi - A few years ago, Sethi was searching the internet for poetry and inspirational quotes. What he stumbled upon instead was an image of someone engaged in self-harm. Sethi decided to reach out to the person behind the post — a choice he says he made hundreds of times over with different people expressing pain and anguish via social media. Sethi decided to make his one-on-one efforts "scalable." He created an app called Runaway that pairs users with a chat bot powered by artificial intelligence, as well as trained volunteers, so they can talk about what's troubling them.
- Amanda Southworth - Southworth, 16, did something recently that most teens don't do: She launched a nonprofit software development company. Astra Labs felt like the natural next step for Southworth, who'd already created two apps, the mental health toolkit AnxietyHelper, and Verena, a "personal security system" for LGBTQ+ people. The new company will help Southworth, who lives in Los Angeles, focus her efforts on challenges that aren't getting attention from Silicon Valley.
Read the full article about mental health activists you should know by Rebecca Ruiz at Mashable.