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Child Mind Institute Launches Youth Mental Health Academy in the San Francisco Bay Area and San Diego with Program Entering Year Two in Los Angeles; Announces New Partnership With Non-Profit Bring Change to Mind

January 17, 2024

Teen-Centric Program Designed to Inspire Youth to Explore Future Careers in Mental Health Opens Applications Until March 15, 2024 

San Mateo, CA – Child Mind Institute is expanding its Youth Mental Health Academy (YMHA), a program designed to educate teens about the different fields of mental health work, by bringing it to the San Francisco Bay Area and San Diego. The organization also plans to build on the program’s success in the Los Angeles area, where it first launched in the summer of 2023. 

The Youth Mental Health Academy is a paid 14-month program for high school students ages 16+ who come from structurally marginalized communities. The program’s goal is to increase representation in the mental health field amongst those groups who have historically lacked access to mental health care services — including young people of color, LGBTQIA+ youth, and those who have experienced foster care, the juvenile justice system, homelessness, or poverty. It also aims to cultivate a future generation of mental health care workers who more closely align with those groups. 

The YMHA offers opportunities for students to get paid for participating in project-based learning and internships in the summer. The program also provides mentors and college planning workshops throughout the school year. Through the combination of these activities, it aims to inspire and cultivate a group of young people who will, as they mature, consider pursuing mental health careers in psychology, school counseling, social work, research, and other mental health-related fields. 

Junior and senior high school students in the San Francisco Bay Area, San Diego area, and Los Angeles area are encouraged to apply now to be accepted into the 2024-25 program, with all applications due by March 15, 2024. 


The YMHA offers each participating student the opportunity to:

  • receive up to a $2,000 stipend for completing project-based learning throughout the entire program 
  • acquire career skills and knowledge about how the overall mental health care field works
  • build their resume toward future careers 
  • develop professional networks
  • work on a capstone project with a group of their peers during the program’s first year
  • work side-by-side as an intern during the program’s second year 
  • be inspired to pursue a career in a mental health-related field

The in-person, project-based learning portion of the program will take place from June 24, 2024, through July 22, 2024. Participants will also complete an internship in a mental health-related field during the summer of 2025. During project-based learning and ongoing programming during the 2024–25 school year, students will receive mentorship and support from experienced professionals.

“Our first summer of the Youth Mental Health Academy in the Los Angeles area was extremely well-received, with hundreds of youth participating in our instructor-led workshops,” said Ivette Sanchez, associate program director for Child Mind Institute’s Youth Mental Health Academy. “We knew we had really started something special during our first capstone event when we saw the incredible response that the YMHA presentations had on the 400 friends and family who gathered.”


The Youth Mental Health Academy also seeks undergraduate college students, graduate students, and early career professionals to serve as mentors in the program. Those interested can find out more about mentorship here


To reach more students interested in mental health career paths, Child Mind Institute is partnering with San Francisco-based Bring Change to Mind (BC2M), a national non-profit operating mental health-focused peer-led clubs in high schools across California. The partnership enables BC2M club members to find out more about the YMHA. And those already in the YMHA can learn more about joining or starting a BC2M club at their school. 

Child Mind Institute will support the expansion of Bring Change to Mind by opening 21 new clubs in Southern California, as well as sponsor various student events and workshops throughout the year. The non-profit launched its evidence-based club model nine years ago and now operates in 42 states with more than 100,000 students having participated. 

“With the ongoing youth mental health crisis, these programs are something that structurally marginalized communities are wholly embracing,” adds Sanchez. “The first round of feedback we got from our YMHA students in the Los Angeles area last summer ranged from ‘I really like being able to talk with people who are passionate about psychology like I am,’ to ‘I feel like I made some really good friends here and made really personal connections with the teachers, especially, which I didn’t expect.”

About the Child Mind Institute

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The Child Mind Institute is dedicated to transforming the lives of children and families struggling with mental health and learning disorders by giving them the help they need. We’ve become the leading independent nonprofit in children’s mental health by providing gold-standard evidence-based care, delivering educational resources to millions of families each year, training educators in underserved communities, and developing tomorrow’s breakthrough treatments. Learn more at

For press questions, contact our press team at or our media officer at

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