Youth Advocacy Forum

In South Africa, young people have faced exclusion from important mental health policy and decision-making spaces, resulting in policies and practices being developed without their voices included. This past year SAFMH, through a generous grant from EMpower, piloted the first of its kind national youth advocacy and advisory forum for mental health in South Africa. The forum comprises of 14 young people from diverse backgrounds and works closely to support SAFMH with national advocacy and awareness.

The Pilot

The forum aimed to empower young mental health advocates to guide national mental health advocacy and awareness work while enhancing their voices, advocacy skills, capacity, and mental health knowledge. Fourteen candidates from the Western Cape and Gauteng, who were dedicated to mental health advocacy and driving lasting change in South Africa, participated in a six-month virtual programme. The forum integrated professional insights, individual development opportunities, advocacy training, and practical awareness campaigns.


Three key themes describe the impact of the forum on the members:

  • Gained understanding of mental health, advocacy and mental health in South Africa.
  • Gained skills, including for advocacy and awareness raising, time-management, evaluation, public speaking and organisation.
  • Increased sense of worth to identify as a youth mental health advocate in South Africa.

Read the full Evaluation Report

I really loved the fact that SAFMH has been intentional about making this pilot project youth-centred. Every individual that is part of this project is young and we all seem to share the same goals of wanting to learn and grow more in this specific area of our advocacy. Which is absolutely inspiring. I learnt that it’s important for us as advocates to take care of our mental well-being first in order for us to carry out our advocacy plans.”

The forum was educational and I’ve learnt a lot about the mental health field and being a mental health advocate. I loved the information that was shared with us and how it has equipped us to be mental health advocates.

Being a part of the forum means that I can finally fully operate in mental health advocacy conversations and be afforded the chance to serve people.

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