2019 California Youth Mental Health Wellness Survey Results Press Release



Study Finds 1 in 3 California Youth Lack Reliable Access to Mental Health Resources


May 28, 2019 – Today, Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation and California’s Mental Health Services Oversight & Accountability Commission (MHSOAC) released “California Youth Mental Health: Understanding Resource Availability and Preferences,” a survey of more than 400 young people in California ages 13 to 24 exploring how they view their own mental wellness, their access to key mental health resources and what they want those resources to look like, and the mental health innovations they want to see in the state.

Overall, the survey paints a portrait of youth who care about their mental wellness and recognize it as a priority, but who lack access to the resources they need to support and maintain it. Key findings of the survey include:

  • 9-in-10 young people say mental health is a priority, but only 4-in-10 rate their own mental health highly. Additionally, a majority (54%) say they have felt stressed frequently in the past month and approximately a third felt helpless or sad (35%) or fearful (30%).
  • Approximately 1-in-3 young people say they lack reliable access to resources to support their mental wellness or address a mental health issue and are even less likely to say they have the resources to deal with many serious but common situations. For example, about half of youth say they would not have the resources needed if they felt suicidal (55%) or felt like harming themselves (54%).
  • Youth cite knowing where to go and cost as their key barriers to mental health resources. Nearly half say that young people in their city “don’t know where to go” (48%) or “can’t afford the cost” (36%) of mental health resources.
  • While young people struggle to access mental health resources, they are open to using a wide variety of them and they want to learn skills to support their mental wellness. Encouragingly, most (81%) say they are interested in learning coping skills and tools to deal with the stresses of everyday life and that they would be comfortable using a variety of resources such as classes that teach skills to support mental wellness (66%).
  • California youth see improving access to care as the top priority for the state’s mental health system. More than a third (35%) say innovations that address this issue should be the biggest priority for the state’s system.

This report is part of a larger project by the MHSOAC, with support from Born This Way Foundation, to collect input from youth across the state about mental health and the innovations they want to see in the space. In addition to this quantitative survey, the project has also included a number of focus groups and the creation of a youth committee.

“California is facing a critical need for youth-focused and youth developed mental health innovations that improve access to quality care and eliminate funding barriers,” said Khatera Tamplen, Chair of the Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission. “We’ve heard from many young people and they’ve told us mental health is a priority for them. The Commission is working with youth across the state to remove barriers to recovery services and promote youth-focused innovations at the county and state level.”

“This survey demonstrates that youth in California care about their mental health, that they see it as an important priority, and that they want to see the transformational innovation that is long overdue on this issue,” said Cynthia Germanotta, Co-Founder and President of Born This Way Foundation. “Born This Way Foundation looks forward to continuing to work with our partners like the MHSOAC and youth themselves to drive this change and to make sure that every young person has the tools, resources, and services they need to lead healthy, thriving lives.”

The survey was conducted by Benenson Strategy Group who interviewed 485 young people ages 13 to 24 in California from January 28 to February 2, 2019.

About Born This Way Foundation

Led by Lady Gaga and her mother Cynthia Germanotta, Born This Way Foundation was founded in 2012 to support the wellness of young people and empower them to create a kinder and braver world. To achieve these goals, Born This Way Foundation leverages evidence-based research and authentic partnerships in order to provide young people with kinder communities, improved mental health resources, and more positive environments – online and offline. To learn more, visit bornthisway.foundation.

About the Mental Health Services Oversight & Accountability Commission

The role of the Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission (MHSOAC) is to oversee the implementation of the Mental Health Services Act (MHSA). The MHSOAC is also responsible for developing strategies to overcome stigma. For more information, visit https://mhsoac.ca.gov/.

About Benenson Strategy Group

Benenson Strategy Group is a strategic research consultancy that advises global corporations, political leaders, and institutions in dynamic, competitive scenarios. By drawing upon a rare blend of innovative research and language expertise, our consultants deliver insights and strategies that achieve better results for our clients and help them connect with their audiences—resulting in historic victories, above-market performance, and stronger brands. www.bsgco.com.

For more information about the Youth Innovation Project, please click here