America’s mental health crisis originated long before the COVID-19 pandemic, with an increasing number of people, young and old, struggling with mental health challenges. Our youth have been especially vulnerable to isolation, loneliness, anxiety, and depression. According to Dr. Vivek Murthy, the U.S. Surgeon General, 1 in 3 high school students and half of female students reported persistent feelings of sadness, or hopelessness.

In response to this youth mental health crisis, The Friends created the Open Mind Film Festival for high school students in 2020. Teens from across the country were invited to submit short films sharing their personal experiences and concerns about mental health that impact their lives. This festival has been increasingly successful with 90 submissions in its inaugural year and 120 submissions in its 2nd year. Join us on April 27, 2023 for the 3rd annual festival!

Building on the film festival’s success and the importance of giving teens a voice and platform, The Friends are creating Teen Advisory Council that will reflect the diversity of the Los Angeles community. Council Members will advise on youth focused Open Mind programs, create their own “Open Mind by Teens for Teens” and have the opportunity to interact with UCLA Semel faculty and Friends of Semel Scholars to learn about career paths in neuroscience and psychiatry. Our hope is to inspire the next generation of concerned citizens, educated and responsive to the mental health needs of their community.

With your generous philanthropy, in addition to our new youth focused programs, we will continue to:

Present the Open Mind Community Lecture and Film Series, virtually bringing together world-renowned thought leaders in science and culture for free relevant and informative programs about mental health issues that now attract a national and even an international audience.

Support research through our Friends Research Scholar Program that awards yearly grants to early career neuroscientists and psychiatrists who are at the forefront of new discoveries about the mind and brain in sickness and in health.

We remain grateful for all the support you have provided our organization. We wish you and your family a safe and healthy New Year. 

Your commitment to supporting mental health education and research is more vital than ever before.


You may also contact Wendy Kelman at 310-825-3119 or 

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