Addressing Youth Mental Health

Addressing Youth Mental Health: A Grassroots Approach

Today on the show, Julien speaks with Ashanti Branch. Ashanti is a key-note speaker, advisor to the US Surgeon General, a Fulbright Fellow and 4x TedX Speaker. His work with youth has been featured at SXSW, on CNN with Lisa Ling, on the Kelly Clarkson Show, and in the documentary about American masculinity ‘The Mask You Live In’, which premiered at Sundance Film Festival. He is the Founder and Executive Director of the Ever Forward Club (EFC), a non-profit organization that ensures underserved students graduate high school by addressing the underlying causes of dropout rates and youth violence, and providing grassroots solutions like mentorship, safe spaces and emotional tools.

Formerly a math teacher and raised in Oakland by a single mom on welfare (his father died just before he was born), Ashanti found his passion while tutoring struggling students in a school with a majority of African-American and Latino students. It broke his heart to see 40% of them want to drop out at such a young age. By fulfilling deeper emotional needs to feel safe, seen and heard, EFC has helped 100% of its student members graduate high school, 90% enroll in higher education, and 0% incarcerated (compared to the national incarceration rate of 8% for black males, age 20-24). Ashanti’s work is crucial as we are now at an unprecedented inflection point with youth, with this being the first generation in history expected to live shorter lives than their parents. Youth mental health has been identified as being in a state of emergency by the US Surgeon General.

Please help Ashanti get the word out that help is available. You can start today by checking out his Million Mask movement and completing your own mask!

Today we discuss:

  • The youth mental health crisis in the US and the role communities and organizations have to play in solving it.
  • Why healthy masculinity is critical to the health of our society, especially as it relates to the socialization of young men.
  • The debilitating power of the “masks” that we live in, how to break free from them, and how to support those we love in doing the same.

Our host, Julien Geiser, is the Director of Corporate Support at Greatheart Consulting. Greatheart develops inclusive leaders for courageous cultures by focusing on practical behaviors that can help build relationships of trust and accountability across all aspects of identity. To learn more about their work, visit

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