Gen Z changemakers join Dr. Jill Biden at the White House to discuss mental health in the US

MTV Entertainment Group invited Yahoo to attend the Mental Health Youth Action Forum in Washington, D.C., on May 18, 2022. In The Know by Yahoo’s Head of Programming, Maia McCann, attended to hear Gen Z’s ideas for addressing the state of mental health in the United States. 

The event marked the culmination of a six-week program where 30 Gen Z participants created campaigns to address the state of mental health in the United States. In the coming weeks, media partners, including In The Know by Yahoo, will help to amplify the campaigns created by the youth participants.

The day opened with a ceremony at the White House hosted by first lady Jill Biden, Surgeon General Vivek Murthy and Selena Gomez. In her opening address, Dr. Biden set the tone, acknowledging the state of mental health in light of current events: “The pandemic has made it so much worse: the isolation, the anxiety and, yes, the grief.” 

Gomez echoed this message, saying that mental health “is a topic that should be talked about freely, without shame.” Gomez’s remarks set the tone for one of the most moving moments of the morning, when Jazmine Wildcat of Laramie, Wyo., discussed the impact of the mental health crisis and suicide on her community: 

@watchintheknow

Jazmine Wildcat founded the Nii’iini Project, where she helps the youth of her community to cope via activism and volunteering ❤️ @Jazmine Wildcat

♬ original sound – InTheKnow

In an interview with Yahoo Life, Murthy emphasized the urgency of this crisis: Suicide increased by 57% in the decade preceding the pandemic, and then the isolation of social distancing only exacerbated the mental health crisis among Gen Zers. 

After the White House portion of the event, In The Know by Yahoo connected with participant Mahmoud Khedr, founder of FloraMind, about the need for representation in mental health services: “One of the reasons [therapy] never worked for me is I could never find Muslim, Arab, Egyptian therapists who could understand more of my journey.” Khedr’s company FloraMind empowers young people to flourish by helping them to find equitable mental health and well-being solutions. 

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Mahmoud Khedr (@Mahmoud Khedr) spoke to us outside the White House during the @MTV #mentalhealth Youth Action Forum on the need for culturally-relevant mental health resources

♬ Inspirational Positive Music – NTRMusic

Following the White House portion of the event, the 30 Gen Z participants presented their ideas about how to address the youth mental health crisis to attendees from the media. As a next step, media partners (including In The Know by Yahoo) will be working with the Gen Zers to amplify their ideas.

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