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    Discover leading programs in youth and young adult mental health

MHA Young Adult Leadership - Program Ideas

Many young people want to address mental health in their communities, but it is not always clear how you can make a difference. Select a topic area below to learn more about successful programs and organizations to inspire you or to join.

Have a program or topic area that you would like to highlight? Email Kelly Davis at kdavis@mhanational.org.

Project Lets: Project Lets builds peer-led communities of support, education & advocacy for folks with lived experience of mental illness, trauma, Disability, and/or neurodivergence. We believe that principles of Disability Justice are key components to supporting collective healing and our human rights. Key programs include:

The Support Network: The Support Network (TSN) helps to address and promote student mental health and well-being through the implementation, development, and collaboration of peer support initiatives in high schools and colleges. TSN provides:

  • A blueprint and advisors to launch effective peer-to-peer support models by students working jointly with administrators
  • A program model that consists of weekly peer-facilitated support groups and bi-weekly community events.

Association for Recovery in Higher Education: The Association of Recovery in Higher Education (ARHE) is the only association exclusively representing collegiate recovery programs (CRPs) and communities (CRCs), the faculty and staff who support them, and the students who represent them. CRPs and CRCs are historically focused on recovery from addiction and substance use disorders. ARHE provides resources including:

Youth Era: Youth Era creates solutions for communities across the country that look beyond short-term assistance for the few and toward sustainable support for the many. When Youth Era opens a new drop-in center, saving communities hundreds of thousands of dollars, it’s not just the young people or even their families who benefit. With Youth Era services, young people have a much better chance of becoming happy, successful, and contributing adult members of their communities, and everyone reaps the rewards. Major components of Youth Era’s work include:

Runaway App: Runaway is a social entrepreneurial venture that aims to spread mental health awareness and make the world happier. Runaway provides anonymous one-on-one peer support and a curated positivity zone, in addition to hosting in-person events.

Lean on Me: Lean on Me offers anonymous text-based peer support that trains college students to serve as peer supporters. Lean on Me provides an algorithm, training, and assistance to prepare students to support other students.


Anemone: Anemone is an app designed to be a safe space in your phone. It features a crisis plan creator; sharing tools for your supporters; emergency resources; coping skills; a virtual grounding box; and personal affirmations.

Trill Project: Trill Project is a social networking application that creates a virtual support community where everyone feels like they belong. On Trill you can anonymously share your thoughts freely; help others in need; make new friends; discover content; connect with crisis resources; and be your most authentic self.

Joelle Bruin: Joelle Bruin is an artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot that aims to help UCLA students easily navigate and access the university’s mental health resources. It can serve as a guide for young people who want to help their peers more easily navigate available mental health resources.

Own Your Roar: Own Your Roar is an initiative created by student athletes for student athletes that unites mental health and athletics to utilize sport as a platform to increase mental health awareness. In addition to hosting events, Own Your Roar developed a mentorship program for older athletes to mentor young athletes. Started at Towson University, it has been replicated on additional campuses including UCLA Athletics’ “Bruin Brave” and James Madison University Athletics’ “Dukes Let’s Talk.”
Alston for Athletes: Alston for Athletes is a comprehensive sports mentoring program that offers student-athletes a variety of services to help them succeed academically and athletically. It is fully committed to the success of student-athletes on and off the field.
The Hidden Opponent:  The Hidden Opponent is an advocacy group that raises awareness for student-athlete mental health and address the stigma within sports culture. It empowers athletes around the world to face the hidden opponent together.
Emory Dark Arts: Emory Dark Arts is a collective of individuals -- artists and not, with mental illnesses and not -- who believe in the value of platforms for meaningful, honest communication about these issues as a way to de-stigmatize mental illness and generate impactful change on campus and beyond.
Students With Psychosis: Students With Psychosis (SWP) is empowering student leaders who have psychosis disorders and unifying the psychosis community worldwide. Previously known as “Students With Schizophrenia,” SWP helps students directly by founding college clubs, holding outreach events, resource directing, actively engaging on social media, offering career-building services through its innovative online internship programs, and unifying the global psychosis community through its Advocacy Board.
Young Invincibles: Young Invincibles’ (YI) mission is to amplify the voices of young adults in the political process and expand economic opportunity for our generation. YI’s policy focus areas include higher education, health care, workforce and finances, and civic engagement.
Active Minds: Through education, research, advocacy, and a focus on young adults ages 14–25, Active Minds is opening up the conversation about mental health and creating lasting change in the way mental health is talked about, cared for, and valued in the United States. Now in its sixteenth year, Active Minds is present in more than 800 schools, communities, and workplaces nationwide, including 550 student-led chapters. Its programs and services empower young adults to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health, create communities of support, and ultimately save lives.
Modern Divergence: Modern Divergence is a fiscally sponsored, youth-led international organization that advocates for neurodivergence and combats the impacts of mental, social, and developmental health stigma in pediatric healthcare. It uses primarily digital means (podcasts, research, and webinars) to advocate and raise awareness for neurodiversity. It works on various projects with other student organizations, therapy consultation companies, and health institutions to empower youth via educational resources and accelerator programs.