The Alliance for Youth Action Discusses How Policy Issues Affect Mental Health for Mental Health Awareness Month


May 23, 2022


Carmel Pryor

WASHINGTON — As Mental Health Awareness Month continues, the Alliance for Youth Action is centering how youth organizers in the Alliance Network fight to protect the mental wellness of our communities through issue organizing. Youth organizers are addressing key policy issues such as abortion access, voting access, policing in schools, and student loan debt to create healthier communities.

Abortion Access and Mental Health

When people do not have resources or options to make decisions about their bodies, they experience fear, stress and anxiety. The team at New Era Colorado has been supporting students organizing on campus to end the stigma around abortions, and they also helped pass the Reproductive Health Equity Act. In a recent discussion with NPR,  leaders from the Alliance Network talked about the leaked Supreme Court draft opinion on overturning Roe v. Wade and how that decision could affect young people.

Voting Access and Mental Health

Along with voting rights and accessibility, states with more voting access and greater civic participation levels are healthier overall. Voting access is a mental health issue. MOVE Texas is fighting against draconian voting restrictions in their state. Last year, when anti-voter laws were passed in Texas, youth organizers did everything in their power to ensure Texans were registered to vote, had voting plans, and knew what was on their ballots. Across the country, the Alliance Network continues to fight voter suppression laws to not only protect democracy, but also to ensure the mental health and safety of all communities. 

Policing in Schools and Mental Health

Poder in Action, LIT, and Virginia Student Power Network have been working to dismantle the school-to-prison-to-deportation pipeline. Policing in schools has been prioritized over staff counselors, nurses, and social workers. Mental health providers are absolutely necessary in our public school system and provide positive outcomes to student who have mental health access. 

Student Debt and Mental Health

Student debt also weighs heavily on more than 44 million people in the United States. The Alliance Network isn’t only organizing to cancel student debt because it negatively impacts so many young people in our country, but because for many Alliance youth organizers, student debt affects them too. The financial burden of debt has a direct link to our mental health and impacts the ways in which we are able to live our lives and to even dream of brighter futures. New Era Colorado, Ohio Student Association, Washington Bus, and Virginia Student Power Network are working to protect student borrowers in their states.  

To learn more about the intersection of mental health and issue organizing in the Alliance Network, read more on the Alliance website

If you are interested in speaking with Executive Director Dakota Hall and youth organizers in the Alliance Network about the impact of policy issues on young people’s mental health, please reach out to Carmel Pryor (