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50% of mental health problems are established by age 14, and 75% by age 24.

World Health Organization

Adolescent Mental Health, 2020


World Mental Health Day Sunday 10 October 2021

14:00-17:00 CEST

One in four people will need mental health care in their lifetime globally. Sadly, 75% of all mental health disorders develop by the age of 25.


According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), more and more people every year are realising the importance of mental health and promoting positive mental health practice on a daily basis.


But we can still do better.


The Youth-Led Solutions: Mental Health & Wellbeing Summit of 10 October 2021 was about empowering young people to learn, connect and be inspired to keep their own wellbeing, and the wellbeing of the world, front and centre. We hosted a three-hour virtual summit of panel discussions, presentations and interactive demonstrations on mental wellness. 


The primary focus of the Youth-Led Solutions Summit: Wellbeing was SDG3, Good Health and Well-being.


The summit also explored the connection between SDG3 and other SDGs.

The event featured two opening keynote speeches, an interactive panel discussion, and the launch of the two YMCA wellbeing initiatives – the Manifesto and the My Wellbeing digital platform – which Summit participants then discussed and further built, in breakout groups.


Rosie Thomas


Rosie Thomas OAM has spent the last 15 years building Australia’s first and biggest youth-driven movement against (cyber)bullying, hate and prejudice. Having started the social business straight out of high school, PROJECT ROCKIT has now impacted half a million young Aussies.


Rosie is one of Australia’s youngest recipients of the Order of Australia Medal and her work has been recognised by UNICEF and honoured in Washington D.C. with the International Award for Outstanding Achievement in Cybersafety. Rosie serves on the Global Safety Board of Twitter because she is relentlessly passionate about engineering a kinder digital world.


Jeff Sparr

Founder, PeaceLove

In early 2009, Jeff and his cousin Matt purchased a bunch of art supplies and headed to a children’s intensive treatment unit at the local psychiatric hospital.


Jeff shared his story and struggles and challenged the kids to paint what gave them peace of mind. The kids not only had fun but were able to communicate through their art in ways that they couldn’t in words. This experience inspired the creation of PeaceLove.

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Bonga Chiliza

Psychiatrist (University of KwaZulu-Natal and South Africa YMCA)

Bonga Chiliza is an Associate Professor and Head of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. He is also the President of the South African Society of Psychiatrists, as well as the Deputy Editor of the South African Journal of Psychiatry. He completed his medical degree and psychiatry specialization at the University of KwaZulu-Natal and his PhD at Stellenbosch University. He has also chaired a number of NGO Boards, including the South Africa YMCA and Life Choices. He is one of the Founding Directors of Harambee Medical Consulting and the Africa Global Mental Health Institute.

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Loizza Aquino

Founder, Peace Mind Canada

Loizza Aquino is a mental health activist and motivational speaker, passionate about mental health, cyberbullying, gender equality, youth empowerment and women’s empowerment. She is the founder of Peace of Mind Canada and has spoken at educational institutions and community events around the world, in cities such as Toronto, Boston, London and Manila. She also recently facilitated workshops with the support of the World Alliance of YMCAs, for youth in North and South America, and Africa.

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Martin Johnson

Global Change Agent and Founder of Inside our Minds Campaign

After his own personal battle with his mental health, Martin decided to create a program to help other young people with identifying their thoughts and feelings to help others. Inside Our Minds is now entering its third year and Martin won the Australian Young Person of the Year award in 2020. The aim of the 'Inside Our Minds' series is to teach participants that their issues are unique, they can help others through the power of storytelling and although they might have felt alone, we can all learn from their stories. Although Martin is a Human Resources professional he hopes one day to use his passion to inspire others to think of mental health as we think of physical health.

Image by Nathan Anderson

Brenda Soriano-Villa

Community Development, YMCA Greater Long Beach

Currently pursuing a Master’s in Public Policy at the Harris School of Public Policy, Brenda’s interests lie at the intersection of education, immigration, and equity policy in the opportunity to improve programs designed to bridge generational and systemic achievement gaps. She previously worked at the Community Development YMCA of Greater Long Beach where she co-led a family center at Bobbie Smith YMCA Community School. Her lived experiences as a first generation Chicanx have shaped and informed the way she engages her community in talks about mental health. Brenda’s overall goal is to ensure mental health is at the forefront on conversations when drafting policy.

Image by Nathan Anderson
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Chiara Servili

WorldHealth Organization
Department of Mental Health & Substance Use (MSD)

Dr Chiara Servili, is a child neuropsychiatrist and focal point for child and adolescent mental and brain health in the Department of Mental Health and Substance Use at the World Health Organization Headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.


Her main areas of work in WHO have included development of tools to guide the planning, implementation and evaluation of interventions and services for child and adolescent mental health promotion and protection and technical assistance to Member States on strategies to address children’s and youth’s mental health needs.

Image by Nathan Anderson
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Andrea Fuentes

Volunteer, Social developmentalist and Psychologist

Andrea is a 41 years old Chilean, who has been living in Honduras for 20 years. She graduated as a Developer in Social Intervention and a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology. She is currently completing a Master's Degree in Social Psychopedagogy and Labor Psychology. She is creative, loving, with the soul of a girl but a warrior. She does not need help to build a house or to move heavy objects although sometimes she finds it difficult to open a lid. She is a plastic artist, and loves making things with her hands. She is very sensitive to the pain of others, that is why she has trained in the social area. Andrea LOVES to serve.

The Manifesto

Putting youth in the driver’s seat: the World YMCA is working to change the cultural conversation about mental health in young people. It does so by co-designing an Open Manifesto and a set of Guiding Principles to promote youth mental health and wellbeing. The idea is that in order to change behaviour, perceptions and attitudes, you also need to change the conversation.

We need young people’s further input to build the Manifesto!  Please complete this brief Polis survey to road test the principles and guidelines of supporting mental health, and visit the WeareWOW (World of Wellbeing) website. 


The ‘My Wellbeing’ digital tool

People want community. People want connection. People want to express themselves.  


‘My Wellbeing’ is a digital tool seeking to help the World YMCA explore the future of human connection and how youth express their mental health and wellbeing. We live in an increasingly complex world, where digitisation promises simplicity but where the future is still human. 


‘My Wellbeing’ seeks to empower young people to take control of their mental health, help build a common language for mental health, and foster a safe and inclusive community for healthy minds, and a better understanding of mental health and wellbeing around the world.


Again, we need young people’s further input to build the My Wellbeing digital platform!  Please take this brief Vurvey (video) survey to build the platform you want to see, and visit the WeareWOW (World of Wellbeing) website.


Mental health & wellbeing summit: Conversation is the best tool we have

Find more news and updates from the Mental Health & Wellbeing Summit here


Coming soon! 3rd YMCA Youth Led Solutions Summit on mental health and wellbeing

Watch the talks, interviews and discussions from the virtual Mental Health & Wellbeing Summit and learn more about empowering young people to learn, connect and be inspired to keep their own wellbeing, and the wellbeing of the world, front and centre.

The primary focus of the Youth-Led Solutions Summit: Wellbeing is SDG3, Good Health and Well-being.


The summit will also explore the connection between SDG3 and other SDGs.

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