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Challenge winners unveiled to develop mental health solutions for diverse youth

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UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business and Google recently hosted the final round of the John E. Martin Mental Healthcare Challengein which student teams from across the US competed for a total of $25,000 in prizes.

The teams, made up of graduate students and business leaders, presented strategic programs and solutions to address specific mental health issues facing vulnerable and underserved adolescents in a culturally responsive manner.

Rural Resilience”, this year’s winning group, developed a program that fosters resilience for rural trans adolescents.

Through this initiative, called “Y’ALL,” which employs a bottom-up, multi-pronged approach, it uses digital technology and rotating in-person neighborhood events to spark joy among the trans community and reach youth earlier than mental health crises do.

Julia Cohen, Y’ALL member, stated:

Our team was honored to be part of the John E. Martin Mental Healthcare Challenge and are grateful for the other teams who proposed creative solutions to improve mental health for rural adolescents.

This year’s programming was focused on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs).

Among the organizations that have attended different events, symposiums and workshops focused on building equitable, inclusive, effective and sustainable mental health products and services, the following stand out:

  • The University of Texas
  • Florida International University
  • California State University
  • San Jose State University
  • Morehouse College
  • Florida A&M University
  • Winston Salem State University

“The day was filled with inspiring and influential speakers who pushed our thinking in different realms of mental health equity. We are so excited that the judges recognized the importance and potential impact of Y’ALL,” added Cohen.

After tragically losing his father in a car accident in 2013, UC Berkeley alumnus and Googler Michael Martin founded the John E. Martin Fellowship to celebrate his father’s passion and commitment to mentoring and supporting veterans who return home from war.

Also, in his quest to create diversity, equity and inclusion outreach programs to scale efforts that aim to improve the quality and access to mental health care, in 2020 he founded the John E. Martin Mental Healthcare Challenge.

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“All those who participated in this year’s John E. Martin Mental Healthcare Challenge embodied the best that humanity has to offer. They collaborated. They listened. They learned. They are committed to championing their mental health, and the mental health of others. I came away from the event inspired and hopeful for the future,” stressed Martin.

In the first round of the competition, student teams developed strategies and solutions that address the mental health needs of urban youth.

The 6 finalist teams presented in person to a panel of judges their ideas and solutions to address the mental health needs of underserved rural youth.

“Enabling better and more equitable access to mental healthcare is a critical issue. I’m thrilled to see students collaborate with business leaders to address this, and I’m incredibly proud of our Haas student team for embracing Berkeley Haas’ commitment to inclusion and innovation,” noted Ann Harrison, UC Berkeley Haas School of Business Dean.

For her part, Dra. Sohini Stone, Google’s Chief Medical Officer for Global Employee Health, stressed: “As an ecosystem, we are continuing to transition the conversation from talking about mental illness to a holistic approach that considers mental health from prevention through diagnosis, treatment, and recovery.”

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