Selena Gomez, MTV and Biden-Harris will host the forum

  • The Rare Impact Fund of Rare Beauty, Selena Gomez’s organization focused on youth mental health, is partnering with the Biden-Harris administration to host a youth action forum on mental health on May 18 in Washington, D.C. , DC
  • A total of 30 young mental health activists participated in the forum.
  • Several nonprofit partners participated, including The Trevor Project, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), and Born This Way Foundation.

On May 18, MTV Entertainment (MTVE), Selena Gomez’s Rare Impact Fund and the Biden-Harris administration hosted the first-ever Mental Health Youth Action Forum live on the White House website.

“Mental health is very personal to me, and I hope that by using my platform, I can help others feel less alone and find more resources,” Gomez said.

In 2021, MTVE founded the Mental Health Day of Action to take the mental health conversation from awareness to action for an entire day.

This year, the focus was on the mental health crisis affecting teens and young adults.

According to World Health Organization (WHO)1 in 7 young people between the ages of 10 and 19 are struggling with a mental health disorder, with suicide being the fourth leading cause of death among adolescents between the ages of 15 and 19.

“Recovery doesn’t always mean healing. Over the past decade, an alarming number of young people have struggled with mental health issues,” first lady Dr. Jill Biden said at the forum.

“It takes courage to be honest about the struggles you face and to tell your stories,” the first lady continued. “I’m so proud of everyone here today, and the president is proud of you too.”

Vaughan Bagley, director of social impact at MTV Entertainment Group, said that while many people in the United States are aware of this problem, they often don’t know how to fix it.

Ayanna Kelly of Poderistas Power Squadone of the leaders present at the forum, said the lack of safety and the continued stigma around mental health are the main reasons for the crisis.

“The lack of psychological safety to discuss this topic and dealing with stigma are systemic issues that, quite frankly, hinder the ability to have these conversations,” Kelly said.

“Lay on the intersectionality of different identities and the lack of resources, and you end up with young people who find unhealthy ways to deflect, withdraw and express their emotions,” she added.

Kelly cited access as another reason for the youth mental health crisis, saying a lack of accessibility can be a burden on the underinsured. This is especially true for young people in marginalized communities who are simply looking to survive.

“There’s not enough time in the day to search for the right person when you’re going to school full time, working multiple jobs, and raising babies,” Kelly said.

What sets this forum apart from others are the young people. The aim of the forum is to move the conversation from awareness to action by supporting campaigns created by young activists.

It changes the narrative, empowering those with direct experience of the mental health crisis to help others.

“Movements are built and sustained when we change hearts and minds. We are building a movement to fight mental health,” said U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy.

“These young leaders deeply understand the unique challenges and barriers their peers face when taking steps to maintain their mental health,” Bagley said.

“They know what’s bothering them and are in a good position to help them overcome [these challenges]so we are honored to give them the chance to develop campaigns that center their voices and ideas…”

After spending 8 years in the military, Kelly earned her master’s degree in human resource management. She now uses her platforms to advocate for equity, inclusion and mental wellbeing.

“As the daughter of immigrants, I was always told that I had no reason to be sad, that I should be grateful for what I have because of where my people come from and to put a smile on my face. I was taught to hide my true emotions and invalidate them,” she said.

“I didn’t seek help for my mental health until my mid-twenties, wondering how I had become so sad and hopeless… Lack of mental health awareness almost paralyzed my entire central family . I couldn’t have gotten through this without asking for help,” Kelly said.

“Together they developed creative campaign concepts to reach their peers with mental health messages, using storytelling and media as tools for change,” Bagley said. “These campaigns could come in the form of podcasts, video series, digital art, etc., urging all young people to take care of their mental health.”

The Mental Health Youth Action Forum was held at the White House with senior officials from the Biden-Harris administration, including the first lady, Dr. Jill Biden; Susan Rice, White House Domestic Policy Advisor; and US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy, among others.

The first part of the forum was streamed live online, and Bagley said participant presentations were restricted to those in the room later in the afternoon.

The overall goal is to saturate social media feeds with mental health content stemming from the ideas presented at the forum, which will result in a change in the way mental health is discussed with young people.

“I’m outspoken that my brown babies don’t have to live in a world where they’re burdened with intergenerational and collective trauma without the tools to heal,” Kelly said.

“I hope black and brown people can see themselves in me. I want them to see that they can heal and that they have the tools to do it,” she said. our impact goes beyond the press and this forum.I want the systems and communities we live in to support our healing rather than hinder it.

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