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Local teens come together for Stanford Mental Health Innovation Challenge

Recently, 90 high school students from Santa Clara and San Mateo counties spent two days at Stanford brainstorming how to improve youth mental health. The occasion was the first Stanford Mental Health Innovation Challenge, a hackathon-style contest in which teams of students identified challenges to youth mental health and designed real-world projects to address them. Each team included four or five students and one adult mentor.

The grand prize-winning team decided to try helping young people better understand mental health issues, a story on the Healthier, Happy Lives blog explains. The team's proposed project, called "Mind Yo Health, Mind Yo Books!" involves hosting mental health-themed book fairs for children and young adults:

'We identified a lack of education about mental health issues among young people,' Stephanie [Zhang, a member of the winning team,] said. 'We wanted to create a bridge between educational tools and mental health book authors — tapping into resources that already exist but that people don’t know much about.'

Judges felt the team’s idea was not only innovative but also practical and realistic.

'Making these books available to young kids will prompt conversations between kids and parents about mental health issues starting at a young age,' added Jade Sebti, another member of the grand prize team. 'If children are educated about mental health at a young age, it won’t be something they see as taboo to discuss with their parents as they get older. Our goal is that this will help future generations redefine mental health as a normal part of overall health.'

The "Mind Yo Books!" team received a $5,000 grant to carry out their project. Along with four other other winning teams, they'll be working with their mentors to see if they can put their ideas into action to improve youth mental health over the next year.

Previously: Stanford psychiatrist comments on federal report about Santa Clara County youth suicides, Mental-health resources for Bay Area teenagers increasing in 2017 and Adolescent mental health the focus of upcoming Stanford conference
Photo courtesy of Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Stanford

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