Youth-led approaches for mental health + wellbeing

Story bubbles on world map
Source: Ashoka


Health is a state of complete physical, mental, and social wellbeing, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. -- -World Health Organization (WHO)

Mental health and wellbeing affects ALL of us: young and and poor. This October, the international community observes #WorldMentalHealthDay. According to the Lancet Global Burden of Psychiatric disease study, mental and substance use disorders account for approximately 183.9 million disability adjusted life years. Globally, depression alone affects 350 million individuals, accounting for 1/3rd of all mental health disabilities.

The World Health Organization claims that around 20% of the world’s children and adolescents have mental disorders or problems. In low-middle income areas, this problem is exacerbated by the lack of available psychiatrists (approximated to be 1 in every 4 million people).

As youth change-makers working with the Making More Health Initiative, a joint program with Ashoka’s Youth Venture and Boehringer Ingelheim, we started observing a definitive trend across our own communities within multiple countries (Spain, Germany, and United States). We found that more and more young people and our peers were identifying challenges to mental and emotional well-being. The effects of the lack of well-being spill over to student vitality, participation in the community, and academic performance in school. 

Thus, we have decided to start our campaign, ‘UP Project’  ( to help understand individual community gaps in mental health services and challenges for youth in maintaining states of emotional well-being. The campaign would also like to give visibility to student-led approaches to mental health and wellbeing so that those most vulnerable to such conditions recover more effectively with peer to peer learnings.


Step into the campaign with these calls to action

With our launch, we would like to announce three components:

(1) Collecting Stories: Stories are universal and empowering. Especially for youth undergoing a mental health condition or challenges to their wellbeing, there are many common problems that arise, ranging from lack of knowledge regarding resources in the community to low mental health literacy for studentswhen coping with stress. We are capturing stories of students and young people, who are at different points of recovery.

We hope these stories--YOUR stories-- can provide hope to those currently undergoing similar conditions, while illuminating different methods employed by students to foster individual mental and emotional wellbeing. To contribute a story, please go to the following link:

(2) Determining the Best Wellbeing Practices: We hope to use information gained from our global campaign to understand how individuals, who underwent mental health problem,s recovered. Further, we hope we can collect these best practices and use these insights in order to improve communities that attempt to foster mental well-being. Please go to the following link to fill out our anonymous survey. We are grateful for your bravery and openness with sharing your data and stories.

Together, we can try and make impact. Please fill out the quick survey here:

(3) Share our featured stories of the month: Young people are opening up and sharing how they navigate mental health challenges.  You can already find our first story on Maria, a brave 27 year old girl from Spain. You can continue track our progress at or send us an email at [email protected].

We aim to share and foster grassroots ways for youth to navigate challenges to well-being and mental health. This way, we hope to give visibility to young changemakers globally who have insights and approaches for overcoming challenges to well-being and mental health. Finally, we hope this effort can inspire other young people from around the globe by sharing their inspiring stories and youth-led approaches to these matters.


The UP Team leaders and youth #MakingMoreHealth finalists:  Carla and Enrique (SPAIN), Vishnu (USA)

**For more info on the Making More Health youth finalists from Spain, USA, Germany and Thailand, click here.

Learn more about Making More Health!

**Ashoka, Youth Venture, and Boehringer Ingelheim are not legally tied to, nor are they representatives of the UP team or any of its the youth finalists. Views of the UP team represent the youth team only, and not Ashoka nor Boehringer Ingelheim.