UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, Google Challenge Students to Develop Culturally Responsive Mental Healthcare Solutions for Underserved Youth

BERKELEY, Calif., November 17, 2022–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Graduate students teamed up with business leaders to develop solutions around mental healthcare for underserved youth. Student teams from around the country competed Nov. 10 for a total of $25,000 in prize money in the final round of the John E. Martin Mental Healthcare Challenge, hosted by the UC Berkeley Haas Healthcare Association and Google. Teams presented strategic solutions and programs to address specific mental healthcare issues faced by underserved and vulnerable adolescents in a culturally responsive way.

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

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

The team developed a solution that seeks to build community and foster resilience for rural, trans adolescents. Their intervention, called “Y’ALL”, is an upstream, multi-pronged approach that uses digital technology and rotating, in-person neighborhood pop up events to spark joy among the trans community and reach youth before mental health crises.

“Our team was honored to be part of the John E. Martin Mental Healthcare Challenge and are grateful for the other teams who proposed creative solutions to improve mental health for rural adolescents,” Cohen said. “The day was filled with inspiring and influential speakers who pushed our thinking in different realms of mental health equity. We are so excited that the judges recognized the importance and potential impact of Y’ALL.”

This year’s outreach programming, centering on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs), saw administrators, faculty and students from 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 attending a variety of events, symposiums, and workshops focused on building widespread, equitable, inclusive, effective and sustainable mental healthcare products and services.

After tragically losing his father in an automobile accident in 2013, Michael Martin, a UC Berkeley alumnus (FTMBA ‘09) and Googler, founded the John E. Martin Fellowship to celebrate his father’s passion for and commitment to counseling and supporting veterans returning home from war. In 2020, the John E. Martin Mental Healthcare Challenge, consisting of diversity, equity, and inclusion outreach programming, a speaker series and business case competition, was founded to scale efforts to improve the quality of and access to mental healthcare.

“All those who participated in this year’s John E. Martin Mental Healthcare Challenge embodied the best that humanity has to offer,” Martin said. “They collaborated. They listened. They learned. They committed to championing their mental health, and the mental health of others. I came away from the event inspired and hopeful for the future.”

In the first round of the case competition, student teams developed strategies and solutions addressing the mental healthcare needs of urban youth. The six finalist teams presented in person to a panel of judges their ideas and solutions addressing mental healthcare needs of underserved rural youth. According to the US Surgeon General’s 2021 report on the youth mental health crisis, rural youth were disproportionately impacted by mental health issues during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Enabling better and more equitable access to mental healthcare is a critical issue,” UC Berkeley Haas School of Business Dean Ann Harrison said. “I’m thrilled to see students collaborate with business leaders to address this, and I’m incredibly proud of our Haas student team for embracing Berkeley Haas’ commitment to inclusion and innovation.”

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

Google’s partnership in this program is part of the company’s focus on supporting billions of healthier people worldwide. As highlighted during the conference by Dr. Sohini Stone, Google’s Chief Medical Officer for Global Employee Health, “As an ecosystem, we are continuing to transition the conversation from talking about mental illness to a holistic approach that considers mental health from prevention through diagnosis, treatment, and recovery.”


HHA is a student-run organization that brings together UC Berkeley students of all backgrounds with a shared 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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