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Moonshots for Youth Mental Health and Well-Being: Exploration of Big Bets and Bold Goals

Good mental health is critical to overall health and well-being, but a cycle of almost endless stressors, stigma, and systemic barriers to accessing quality care have brought America’s collective mental health to a breaking point. In 2018-19, 19 percent of Americans experienced a mental illness, and in 2020, the number of people experiencing anxiety and depression skyrocketed.

Young people have been hit especially hard by anxiety, depression, and other mental health challenges, all made much worse by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Center for Strategic Philanthropy and Hopelab have come together to identify four “moonshots” that could dramatically improve mental health and well-being in youth. These are big ideas that, if brought to fruition, could transform the mental health care system, and in turn, improve youth mental health by at least tenfold.

This report outlines big ideas to decrease stigma, increase access to care, build a diverse mental health workforce, and develop measurements and interventions that are grounded in inclusive research. With the right support from philanthropy and other sectors, these moonshots would provide a path to better mental health for young people, and a better future for all.