Championing Mental Health and Racial Equity Through Global Outreach

Daily Point of Light # 7764 Mar 8, 2024

Meet Daily Point of Light Award honoree Sarah Shelke. Read her story, and nominate an outstanding volunteer or family as a Daily Point of Light.

Sarah Shelke stands at the forefront of a remarkable movement to transform mental health support for youth, particularly those from marginalized communities. As a co-founder of, Sarah has catalyzed a global initiative that leverages the power of social media, international partnerships and grassroots activism to address the critical mental health needs of young people. Her leadership has propelled Mind4Youth into a significant force for change, impacting more than half a million youths worldwide.

Under Sarah’s leadership, Mind4Youth has achieved impressive milestones, amassing a following of over 20,000 on social media and rallying a volunteer force of more than 5,100 members across more than 40 countries. These numbers reflect the organization’s widespread influence as well as its ability to mobilize a global community around the pressing issue of youth mental health. The funds raised, totaling $28,732, and the distribution of 1,782 mental health-related items underscore the tangible impacts of their campaigns and initiatives.

Mind4Youth’s commitment to racial equity is evident in its collaborations with renowned organizations like Kendra Scott, Costco and the United Nations. These partnerships have been instrumental in advancing the conversation and action around racial equity in mental health care. The recent initiative with Better Help, providing $162,000 worth of therapy sessions to marginalized and minority youth, marks a significant stride towards making mental health support more accessible to those who need it most.

Read on to find out more about Sarah’s inspiring journey with Mind4Youth and how her passion, innovation and collaboration has impacted the lives of countless individuals.

Tell us about your volunteer role.

My role is co-founder of my nonprofit, Mind4Youth, and our goal is to help spread mental health awareness and foster mental wellbeing among youth through proactive awareness campaigns, educational programs and also making mental health resources available to underserved or marginalized youth. We hope to support them but also make it easier to access these services due to financial constraints or limited accessibility.

Why is this issue so important to you?

Mental health has always been very important to me. Growing up in an area where education is competitive, I started seeing my own mental health start to deteriorate in the face of this stress. I knew that it was becoming an issue and I wanted to help other youth going through the same thing. I also realized that other youth didn’t have the same access to resources as I did, such as access to a counselor or therapist. My goal was to create the opportunity for other youth to get help if they need it.

What are your long-term plans or goals for the organization?

Our long-term goals are to provide more resources in person. Right now, a lot of our work is online – such as worksheets, programs and activities that we provide to schools – and now we’re working on providing physical resources, such as coloring books to help promote wellbeing. We’re offering board games and other things to foster collaboration and improve wellbeing.

What’s been the most rewarding part of your work?

Hearing back from the people I’ve been able to help. That’s definitely been a big motivation for me throughout my work. Realizing that I was able to help people is so rewarding because I know I’ve been able to make a difference in their lives.

What have you learned through your experiences as a nonprofit co-founder?

There’s a lot of challenges, especially as a youth nonprofit founder. It’s hard to find new opportunities or ways you can help, especially since you are a bit more limited as a youth on what you can do. But trying to overcome those challenges, trying to be more resourceful, trying to find new opportunities or creating those opportunities if they don’t exist, has been really big for me.

Why is it important for people, especially youth, to get involved with the causes they care about?

I think it’s really important because that’s how change is made. If youth don’t take action and get involved now, it’s going to be harder for future generations. I think it’s so important for youth to find something they’re passionate about and work towards it. It also teaches lessons about work ethic, which can help them a lot in their future as well.

Any advice for people who want to start volunteering?

I would say, definitely don’t give up. As a nonprofit founder, I’ve had a lot of challenges, obstacles and barriers. The only thing that kept me going was just not giving up, and staying motivated even in tough times.

Do you want to make a difference in your community like Sarah? Find local volunteer opportunities.

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