Meghan Yuri Young is theadvocate

Meghan Yuri Young is a mental health advocate who approaches everything she does with thoughtfulness, relatability and self-awareness.


Meghan Yuri Young went from studying journalism to majoring in psych and English to creating The Sad Collective, a community organization in support of mental health. The rise of social media allowed Meghan to explore working for herself, which led her to some amazing opportunities, from interning at fashion magazines to attending speaking engagements and being on television. But her work with the Sad Collective is something that she holds close to her heart and has helped her navigate and reflect on pivotal moments in her life while also enabling her to provide support to her community.

What does community and collaboration mean to you? What role does it play in your practice?

I’ve been thinking a lot about legacy lately. For the longest time, I’ve known that I didn’t want my own children. Although I plan on adopting, the older I get, the more I recognize I’m slowly closing the door on having a traditional family and that my work may be my legacy. 

I find myself looking inwards and asking, “what’s the impact of my work?” How do I want to be remembered? How do I want to feel and leave people feeling?” Community and collaboration play heavily into that line of thinking. Over the last six years, after diving into community work, volunteering and creating the Sad Collective, I’ve realized that we often find ourselves in bubbles—our friendships, what we consume, even our career paths—that can get smaller as we grow older. Community and collaboration, in my experience, continually burst those bubbles. I learn more about myself, others and the world when I expand my circles. Most importantly, I’m inspired. I can’t get half of what I do done if I don’t collaborate.

If you could go back in time, what advice would you give to the “you” that’s just starting out?

I tend to give this one piece of advice whenever I’m asked this question, and it’s simple, JUST DO IT! On some level, I think many of us are perfectionists; whether we’re trying to make something better or are insecure about our ideas being received poorly. It’s easy to get caught up in negative self-talk that we essentially talk ourselves right out of doing what it is we’re meant to do. But it’s important to realize that if you’re creating something that’s meant to be out in the world, once it’s out there, it won’t be yours anymore, and that’s ok because that’s what you wanted in the first place. To share something of yourself with others. And to make that something stronger, you need people’s feedback.

In the same breath, I always remind myself that I do things for ME, first and foremost. Before anything, I ask myself, “Why? Why am I creating this?” And if I’m not part of the answer, even just a small part, then I’m probably not meant to be creating that thing. If it’s safe to say that not everyone will love whatever it is you put out there, at the very least, you should. And that love you hold for your creation is very different from the concept of a perfect creation.

Tell me about a failure you’ve experienced—how did you get through it, and how did it help get you to where you are now?

I’ve truly come to realize that I don’t view many things as failures. Not to say I don’t have feelings of failure. But I actually think one of the reasons why I feel like I thrive (such a weird thing to say aloud that I’m thriving, haha!) is that I’ve accepted that idea of “failing forward.”

That said, if I had to pick something, by society’s standards, my biggest failure would be my divorce. It didn’t go the way marriages are obviously supposed to, and getting through those initial few months after separating was fucking hard! It took me a while to bounce back. There was definitely a yoyo effect of me running away from reality while also reflecting on everything, especially through the founding of The Sad Collective. I’m very good at recognizing and even processing my emotions but not necessarily getting past them. So, I recognized I was hurting. I was able to distill my experience into words, which other people responded to, and some felt less alone because I shared. And through sharing, years later, I woke up one day realizing that that hurt was finally healed. 

That whole experience ended up being so pivotal to my growth as a person, an entrepreneur and a mental health advocate. Granted, it’s important to note that I don’t consider the marriage itself a failure. It was simply a chapter in my life that ended when it was supposed to.

What is the biggest risk you’ve taken? Did it pay off?

This ties into the last question. When I decided to separate from my husband, I was taking the biggest risk I’d ever taken to this day by betting on myself. My ex was actually a very supportive, amazing person; it was never a toxic relationship. But I was with him since I was very young, and I wasn’t ready for a lot of the things that came with marriage (like having children). And I wasn’t ready to compromise. Yet even when we realized we weren’t aligned, it seemed almost inconceivable to leave him. So, again, the biggest risk was standing on my own two feet. He wasn’t holding me back; I was holding myself back. Since I’ve let go of that, I’ve realized that trusting myself has always brought me so much happiness.

How do you get yourself in “the zone” to work?

I work from home, so the distractions can be ENDLESS! To get into the zone, I have a number of tricks since my mood shifts for different reasons any given day. A couple of my go-to's are waking up early. I find when I wake up before the rest of the world my focus is much stronger, and I get a lot more done in the early hours of the morning. But I can't wake up early all the time. So another trick is that I have an ongoing to-do list; often kept on my phone and rearranged as my priorities shift. I sit down for 20-40 mins and complete the most pressing things on that list and then I take a break whether that's to walk the dogs, eat some food or stretch. And then, I get back into it!

Since I work for myself, I'm pretty compassionate about my schedule and definitely don't stick to a traditional 9-5. To remain focused, I give myself a lot of flexibility and am as honest about what needs to get done because it can be very easy to put things off.

“I’ve realized that trusting myself has always brought me so much happiness.”

Tell me about one unexpected place where you draw inspiration?

To answer this without really answering it, I would say the unexpected place of drawing inspiration is being open to moments of unanticipated inspiration. I think it’s important to understand that inspiration can come at any point. When I tried to think of something for this question, everything I was thinking of was not unexpected! They were so cliche, like in the shower or on walks, where I have no agenda, and an idea can just come to me. 

Ideas come to you when you least expect them. It’s like having this pulse on your mind and jotting down thoughts as they come. I use Notes on my phone, and I’m always jotting down a word or an idea. They may not be for right now but could be used in the future. Ideas come all the time; it’s just whether or not you’re paying attention to them. 

I get especially inspired whenever I have a conversation with someone. It’s about drawing correlations. For example, I have a reading podcast with this amazing person, Chris Penrose. I had a book club years ago with Indigo, and he was doing a nontraditional book club within his community. Someone thought about introducing us, and we instantly connected and created a podcast. When you meet new people, you end up realizing things you’ve never thought about before. 

The Sad Collective has created an open space for those seeking mental health help from all different types of backgrounds. Is it difficult to try to meet the diverse needs of every single person you’re helping? How do you navigate this? 

Up until two years ago, outside of amazing collaborations, I’ve essentially been a one-woman show when it comes to The Sad Collective. I would remind myself that I’m not an expert; I’m an advocate and can only speak from personal experiences while also connecting to different people by sharing relatable content, inspiring thoughts, witty comments and resources—I understood my capacity, my boundaries. 

Yet I still miss things! Most recently, I had a conversation with Pranavi, and it was just one of those epiphany moments in which I realized something very obvious. While I’m all about accessibility and affordability, when speaking to her, I realized all of my offline programming and events revolved around what was accessible to me (at least, location-wise). So, I was like, wow—I can’t believe I haven’t hosted anything outside of my own neighbourhood! I’m always trying to be aware of these situations, yet here I was. That is something I will be conscious of moving forward.

Over the last year, I’ve built an amazing team, and with their help and personal experiences, we’ve been able to diversify our programming and content. Our biggest focus now is S.O.F.T, a micro-grant for those seeking access to therapy but who face systematic and financial barriers. In terms of responding to the diverse needs of our community, I believe with my whole being that this new initiative will do just that.

Sharing your feelings, writing your thoughts and putting them on social media isn’t an easy process. Do you ever doubt yourself before sharing, and if so, what advice would you give those looking to share their stories. 

I remember the first thing I used to talk about publicly, in terms of hard topics, was my divorce. Although in-person, I’m generally still an open book; I’m not as transparent as I used to be. Over the years, sharing online has drained me. So while I don’t doubt myself very often—I’m too impulsive for that—I’ve come to better understand my capacity when it comes to sharing bits of myself with the world.

As for advice, it’s crucial to recognize that sharing your story can exist in so many different forms. It can be sharing something with a friend, one-on-one, or with a therapist or writing in a journal. It could be a blog or a social media post that is gratifying on various levels, whether you’re helping someone else, getting something off your chest or the engagement on a superficial level. Yet, not everyone is built to share publicly, as I do. It takes time, emotional effort and knowing yourself (or being open to learning about yourself at the same time others are). For those who want to share online, nothing is ever black or white, and I’ll go back to my piece of advice about doing it for yourself. I remember writing about my sexual assault one year during Bell Let’s Talk, and before publishing it, I had my best friend read it. When she got back to me, she asked: “Are you sure?” At that moment, I thought I was and put it out into the ether. But you know what? I could not get out of bed afterward. There were many things I didn’t consider when I posted, but I’m still happy I posted it for myself and the Sad Collective community. I am now more conscious about what I put out there and its effects on me, my friends and family. 

One thing to note is that, collectively, we have had a massive opportunity to learn over the pandemic, especially when it comes to our mental health and other crucial issues/movements. Something that has come with that has been the need for trigger warnings. I can’t just blurt everything out anymore. Sometimes I don’t realize something is triggering until I have friends or my community reach out saying I could have warned them. That’s something I’ve learned recently, which I have to constantly put into practice—being conscious and cautious when sharing something sensitive. 

Words are powerful, written or spoken, so being prepared and having a support system to read it before it goes live is helpful for added perspective. More and more people are diving into their vulnerabilities and sharing them online. I think that’s beautiful. I also think it’s important to ask yourself why. Why are you sharing? The honesty that hopefully follows that question will help people navigate any difficulties that might come with sharing their stories.

I’ve realized that we often find ourselves in bubbles—our friendships, what we consume, even our career paths—that can get smaller as we grow older. Community and collaboration, in my experience, continually burst those bubbles.

Who is inspiring you
right now?

Chris Penrose

An amazing individual who has done so much for his community. He's such an inspiration.

An amazing individual who has done so much for his community. He's such an inspiration.

Pranavi Suthagar

A designer and artist exploring the South Asian experience through her work with Not Sari.

A designer and artist exploring the South Asian experience through her work with Not Sari.

Mo Bofill

Mo is a very talented creative director and mixed media artist.

Mo is a very talented creative director and mixed media artist.

Patricia Yeboah

Head of Memberships and Communication at the Soho House and founder of Mama Akua's Ghanaian Food.

Head of Memberships and Communication at the Soho House and founder of Mama Akua's Ghanaian Food.

What are you loving right now?

up next