UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, Google challenges students to create culturally-responsive mental health care solutions for underserved youth

BERKELEY, Calif., November 17, 2022–(BUSINESS WIRE)–College graduates have partnered with business leaders to develop mental health solutions for underserved youth. Student teams from across the country competed for a total of $25,000 in prize money in the finals of the John E. Martin Psychiatry Challenge, hosted by the UC Berkeley Haas Healthcare Association and Google. The teams presented strategic solutions and programs to address specific mental health care challenges faced by underserved and at-risk youth in a culturally appealing way.

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John E. Martin Mental Healthcare Challenge case competition winner, “Rural Resilience”. Left to right: Julia Cohen, Angela Wang, Michael Martin, Tracey Kirui, Ariana Simone. (Photo: Business Wire)

This year’s Rural Resilience winning team included Julia Cohen, Tracey Kirui, Ariana Simone and Angela Wang from the UC Berkeley Haas School of Business and School of Public Health.

The team developed a solution aimed at building community and fostering resilience for rural transgender youth. Her intervention, dubbed “Y’ALL,” is an upstream, multi-pronged approach that uses digital technology and rotating, in-person neighborhood pop-up events to spark joy in the trans community and reach youth facing mental health crises.

“Our team was honored to be part of the John E. Martin Mental Healthcare Challenge and grateful to the other teams who have proposed creative solutions to improve the mental health of rural youth,” said Cohen. “The day was filled with inspirational and influential speakers who pushed our thinking across diverse areas of mental health. We are so excited that the jury recognized the importance and potential impact of Y’ALL.”

This year’s outreach program, which focused on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs), saw administrators, faculty and students from the University of Texas at San Antonio, Florida International University, California State University – Dominguez Hills, California State University – Fullerton, California State – Long Beach, California State University – Monterey Bay, San Jose State University, Morehouse College, Florida A&M University, Morgan State, Winston Salem State University Participated in a variety of events, symposiums and Workshops on building widespread, equitable, inclusive, effective and sustainable mental health products and services.

After the tragic loss of his father in a car accident in 2013, Michael Martin, a UC Berkeley (FTMBA ’09) graduate and Googler, founded the John E. Martin Fellowship to build on his father’s passion and dedication to advising and supporting Celebrate veterans who are returning home from war. In 2020, the John E. Martin Mental Healthcare Challenge was established, consisting of diversity, equity and inclusion programs, a speaker series and a business case competition to scale efforts to improve the quality and access of mental health care .

“Everyone who participated in this year’s John E. Martin Mental Healthcare Challenge embodied the best that humanity has to offer,” said Martin. “They worked together. You listened. They have learned. They have made a commitment to take care of their mental health and the mental health of others.

In the first round of the case competition, student teams developed strategies and solutions that address the mental health needs of urban youth. The six finalist teams personally presented their ideas and solutions for the mental health care of underserved rural youth to a jury. According to the US Surgeon General’s 2021 Adolescent Mental Health Crisis Report, rural youth have been disproportionately affected by mental health problems during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Enabling better and more equitable access to mental health care is a critical issue,” said Ann Harrison, dean of the UC Berkeley Haas School of Business. “I’m thrilled that students are working with business leaders to address this issue, and I’m incredibly proud of our Haas student team who have embraced Berkeley Haas’ commitment to inclusion and innovation.”

Newton Cheng, Google’s Director of Health and Performance, served as the speaker and judge for this year’s challenge. Cheng said the students are far ahead of their age in their understanding of the complexities of both mental health and healthcare. He went on to say that he was inspired by her creative thinking in terms of solutions and business models, and most importantly by her passion to build something that helps others.

Google’s partnership in this program is part of the company’s focus on helping billions of healthier people worldwide. like dr Sohini Stone, Google’s Chief Medical Officer for Global Employee Health, highlighted during the conference, “As an ecosystem, we continue to shift the conversation from discussing mental illness to a holistic approach that considers mental health from prevention to diagnosis. treatment and recovery.”


HHA is a student-led organization that brings together UC Berkeley students from all backgrounds with a common mission to build a more connected and impactful healthcare ecosystem.


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Katy Gustafson, APR
[email protected]
(405) 715-3232


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