Make Mental Health for Young People a Global Priority

Date: 10 October 2022

Share with friends.

Take active breaks.

Know your limits and learn to say no.

 Those are just a few of the ideas YMCAs throughout the Movement are sharing to protect and improve mental health, especially in young people, on #WorldMentalHealthDay. The World Health Organization (WHO) and partners launched a campaign on 10 October around ‘Making Mental Health & Well-Being for All a Global Priority’.

 At the 20th World Council this summer in Aarhus, Denmark, Matías Irarrázaval of PAHO/WHO, was the keynote speaker of the Engagement Panel on Community Wellbeing/Mental Health. He shared alarming statistics about the mental health of adolescents and youth.

He said suicide is the fourth-leading cause of death among 15-19-year-olds globally. “More than 45,000 adolescents die from suicide each year”, he said. “That’s one every 11 minutes”. Additionally, governments worldwide invest little in mental health, with a median expenditure of 2.1 per cent of overall health budgets, he said. 

“The pandemic has upended the world,” Matías said. “It has taught us that our mental health is profoundly affected by the world around us. It also has been widely stigmatised and misunderstood. It is, in fact, a positive state of wellbeing and a foundation that allows young people to build their futures”.

A multi-faceted approach is needed, he said. Interventions across a range of systems and sectors – including in families, communities and schools and through social protection – can help to promote and protect mental health. 

The Global Youth Mobilization (GYM) reiterated the pandemic has been particularly challenging for youth, as “young people experienced bouts of isolation and loneliness that further impacted their mental health”.  Its recent mental health webinar addresses some of the challenges young people face. 

Along with stories of impact, activities and trends arising from youth-led solutions addressing the mental health that GYM will be sharing this week, YMCA movements are calling attention to this important topic in many ways:


YMCA Europe is joining with Kosovo YMCA to promote its “Speak Freely” digital campaign. The campaign is focused on raising awareness for mental health, encouraging young people to have productive conversations about mental health, and calling for accessible, high-quality mental health services and information for all, especially young people. 


Centres throughout the Kosovo movement will hold activities for young people. In addition, the YMCAs will discuss the importance of sharing, what to do when friends confide in you and available services and platforms.

In its October e-newsletter, the YMCA Latin American and Caribbean Alliance shared tips on boosting mental health and wellness, including:

  •      Practice active listening
  •     Take short, active breaks
  •     Set limits and learn to say no


Leading up to 10 October, its social media focus has been boosting mental health in young people. One image shared the message, ‘Asking for help does not make you weak, it takes strength to fight for yourself’.

 The alliance is also hosting a global Virtual Party on 27 October. All are welcome to attend the fun two-hour event, which features activities and information on improving mental health. 

And Gloria Hidalgo, General Director, from YMCA Bogota, Colombia, shares information about its mental health program. Listen to the English version here.  


Y-Australia is launching ‘Inside Our Minds 2022’, a mental health campaign designed to support young people.

YMCAs across England and Wales are organising events to ‘help break the stigma around mental health’, including what it calls ‘Small Talks’.

It says small chats with your friends, colleagues and family members ‘can go a long way to make sure you have a place to talk honestly about your feelings’. To get the conversation started, YMCAs are holding special Tea Talks and Walk and Talks.

For more information specifically on World Mental Health day, visit the official site.