Zoom joins MTV Entertainment, the Biden-Harris Administration, media and tech companies, and mental health nonprofits at the Mental Health Youth Action Forum in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images for MTV Entertainment).
Around the world, youth have experienced — and continue to be affected by — interruptions to their education, isolation from friends and family, social unrest, racial injustice, and climate crises, all escalating in the past few years.
In a recent report by the University of Michigan Health C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health, more than a quarter of parents said their adolescent-aged child has seen a mental health specialist — with nearly 60% of those reporting a visit within the past year.
We’ve made mental health a core focus for Zoom Cares, Zoom’s global social impact arm. We focus especially on those who may be disproportionately impacted by challenges or face barriers to accessing resources, including those who identify as Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) or LGBTQ+, or who are from low-income and marginalized communities.
As part of our commitment to supporting mental health for youth, we are grateful to have been a part of MTV Entertainment’s Mental Health Youth Action Forum, where Zoom Cares donated $165,000 to help support the crucial work of 30 youth mental health advocates. Learn more about the forum and the work of these inspiring advocates below.
A forum for action
As part of its Mental Health Is Health initiative, MTV Entertainment Group, in coordination with the Biden-Harris Administration and 18 leading mental health nonprofits, convened the first-ever Mental Health Youth Action Forum in Washington, D.C. earlier this month. A group of 30 youth advocates were selected based on their commitment to mental health activism and their digital and creative skill sets to develop new mental health campaigns by young people, for young people.
These individuals participated in creative and skill-building workshops and brainstorming sessions with nonprofit mentors and industry professionals. The forum culminated in a captivating program that included senior officials from the Biden-Harris Administration, where we were excited to announce Zoom Cares’ surprise donation of $5,500 to each youth advocate ($165,000 total) in support of their community work.
“I don’t see their efforts ending here — SAMHSA is working to create future opportunities to hear more from these young advocates and continue to support this mission,” said Miriam E. Delphin-Rittmon, Ph.D., assistant secretary for mental health and substance use in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “The experience and diverse perspectives they bring to these issues are vital to solving the mental health crisis affecting so many young people today.”
Spotlighting youth leaders
These youth advocates are making tremendous strides to improve mental health by increasing awareness and access to resources, encouraging their peers to take action, and engaging in often difficult conversations about their own experiences. Their leadership is inspiring, and their commitment to creating a better future for other young people is something we’re proud to celebrate and amplify.
Get to know a few of these exceptional leaders (and read about all the advocates and their work here):
Juan is an advocate who drafted a historic LGBTQ+ proclamation for his hometown of Woodland, CA. He currently serves as one of the regional managers for California’s CalHOPE Warm Line, and is a New York Times bestselling author for “CHANNEL KINDNESS: Stories of Kindness and Community,” co-authored with Lady Gaga.
“I want to dismantle the stigma around mental health and help people feel less alone in their struggles.”Juan Acosta
Marcus is the founder and CEO of Alston for Athletes & Athlete Haven, where he uses his lived experience as a biracial athlete to help other athletes with their mental health and overall well-being, and a board member for the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Maryland.
“After sharing my story to about 400 current and former athletes, I realized how powerful storytelling is and I am grateful Zoom can provide that vehicle. Connecting with so many athletes gave me a unique perspective of mental health in sports, which I can now help support.”Marcus Alston
Danielle is an Indigenous (Ojibwe) and Queer robotics inventor, educational advocate, and Born This Way Foundation Youth Advisory Board member. She works to increase technical educational accessibility and cultural competency for Indigenous youths through robots that she creates and gives away for free through her charity, The STEAM Connection.
“I want to continue to share my story to reduce the stigma against getting help so that every youth knows that they are not alone, and that there is a power in being yourself, and that you are capable of creating change.”Danielle Boyer
Davida is passionate about breaking down barriers in mental health and challenging the status quo. She has done work with Justice for Black Girls and is the founder of Zachary’s Corner, a digital resource for young people.
“I’m excited to see diversity in mental health.”Davida Padi
Bhavya is a neurodivergent management consultant, creator, and podcast host from Raleigh, North Carolina. She is the founder of INELEGANCIES, a management consulting firm and creative community for minority solo creators, leaders, and entrepreneurs.
“INELEGANCIES is a business I created to build more community, and while there are a ton of free resources to do that, this funding from Zoom will allow me to build a team. Also, without Zoom’s platform, I would never have been able to reach the people I have so far.”Bhavya Rai
Shining a light on mental health
We’re honored to have the chance to meet and support these youth advocates, especially as we observe Mental Health Awareness Month in May. We appreciate the opportunity to partner with MTV Entertainment, the Biden-Harris Administration, our tech peers, and nonprofit organizations to bring this group together to share, learn, and create.
The challenges facing our next generation may seem overwhelming at times, but thanks to the incredible resilience of young people, conversations around mental health are becoming more open, honest, and accessible. We can’t wait to see how the advocates bring their ideas to life and create positive and lasting change in their communities and beyond.
We’re committed to supporting mental health in other ways, too. As a trusted telehealth platform, Zoom helps increase access to mental health services regardless of a patient’s or clinician’s location. Knowing how telehealth can become a lifeline for people in need of mental health services, we’re supporting the (CONNECT) for Health Act to enable better access to care, counseling, and connection. We also provide grant funding to grassroots mental health organizations working with youth around the world. Learn more about how mental health is part of our social impact approach in our 2021 Social Impact Report.