WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) – An unexpected collaboration between MTV and the First Lady brought an attention-grabbing group to the White House on Wednesday to talk about mental health.
Selena Gomez and young mental health influencers chatted with Dr. Jill Biden and Surgeon General Vivek Murthy about the need to have real conversations about these issues.
“It’s a topic that can and should be discussed freely without shame. That’s why an event like this, especially at a place like this, is so important,” Gomez said.
The Biden administration says it’s part of their larger efforts on mental health.
“We’re working hard to build a broader movement to change how we fundamentally think about mental health so we don’t stigmatize it,” Murthy said.
Juan Acosta is a mental health activist in California. He says he knows the pain so many young people are feeling.
“They struggle behind closed doors and sometimes they don’t make it out of those doors anymore,” Acosta said. “And we need to change that.”
The advocates want to go beyond destigmatizing mental health issues and work on increasing access to resources.
“The bottom line is mental health is health and we’ve got to help everyone see that and we’ve got to reflect that in our health care system,” Murthy said.
They’re pushing for more education and funding for services like therapy and school counseling. Youth mental health leader Mahmoud Kehdr says that all has to be done with a focus on equity
“It needs to be accessible to all young people. Young people of color, young people who don’t have access to these resources,” Kehdr said.
Advocate Diana Chao is urging federal leaders to look for ways to get ahead of mental health problems, because she feels access to treatment isn’t the whole solution.
“We don’t want to be reactive about mental illness, we want to be proactive about mental wellbeing,” Chao said. “Fifty percent of all lifetime cases of mental illness begin by age 14 and so by the time we talk about what happens afterwards, that’s a conversation that’s too late.”