In 2004, young people affected by mental health, with the support of California Mental Health Advocates for Children and Youth (CMHACY) Conference, where United Advocates for Children and Families (UACF), and YOUTH Training Project (YTP) Director, Jamie Lee Evans, MSW, organized the first Youth Leadership Academy (YLA) at the CMHACY Conference. This was CMHACY’s first dedicated space for young people in over 30 years. Out of these initial meetings, YLA attendees envisioned a nonprofit ran by young mental health constituents making positive change in the community, and within the Mental Health System.
With much appreciated support from the Zellerbach Family Foundation and other generous donors, Youth In Mind continues to grow. In 2008, a second leadership conference, the Youth Leadership Summit (YLS), was added to provide further leadership tools to YIM members. In October 2010, YIM transitioned into a nonprofit, 501c3.
Since inception, Youth In Mind has conducted multiple leadership conferences, developed and delivered numerous workshops and educational forums, and continues to support our members in destigmatizing mental health diagnoses and symptoms; mobilizing and changing the lives of youth and young adults impacted by mental health throughout California.
The nonprofit is membership based for youth ages 12 through 28 in California. More than 400 youth have become members of Youth In Mind throughout the state, with the purpose of creating a network of empowered young people willing to advocate for change in mental health services.
Youth In Mind started out as a collaborative effort among youth cycling through the mental health and juvenile criminal systems to build leadership skills and influence mental health policies and funding decisions. Inspired by the state’s move toward integrating mental health consumers into systems of care, embodied by the Mental Health Services Act, youth began to organize for inclusion in the new “peer provider boom.”
The most important step is creating community through a holistic approach to youth engagement. It’s the first moment people can come into a room and be who they are. Instead of looking at one another as disenfranchised, the youth identify themselves as leaders proactively shaping the future.
Youth In Mind specializes in experiential education and innovative approaches to youth engagement and mental health advocacy. Our annual youth leadership conferences engage members in Open Space Technology to encourage authentic participation, individual and team coaching to support healthy development, and civic leadership tools for grassroots organizing and systems-change work. We develop and deliver curricula to providers, youth, families and educators.