Stanford Mental Health and Wellness Board

Graduate school can be a rough time for students, especially at a school as intense as Stanford. Many students who are used to being in the top of their class are forced to face the prospect of being "average" for the first time in their lives. Many graduate students are also on their own financially for the first time, searching for RA and TAships, and any sort of external funding, while trying to figure out what how many loans they can reasonably afford. New doctoral students are forced to compete for limited space in PhD research groups, and struggle to pass qualifying exams; while older PhD students are constantly pushing to get papers out, and fretting about whether and when they'll be able to graduate. Imposter Syndrome is a fairly common phenomenon.

With all of this stress, it is important to make mental health resources available to graduate students. As the Graduate Representative on the Stanford Mental Health and Wellness Board, that is exactly what I tried to do. Stanford currently offers a number of mental resources to its students, including short-term counselling, and a peer counselling center. Unfortunately, these services aren't effectively advertised to the graduate student population. As a member of the Communications subcommittee, I pushed for links to mental health services on campus to be placed on course enrollment, bill-pay, and course management websites; sites that both grads and undergrads use on a regular basis. As a committee member, I also advocated for more graduate targeted mental health campaigns. Stanford has had a good amount of success combating impostor syndrome (or "duck syndrome" as it's known here) among undergraduates by focusing on it during new student orientation, and through other venues. Most graduate students, however, have never heard of "duck syndrome" and still suffer from impostor syndrome with no idea that they're not alone.

The committee is still ongoing, and the suggestions we have made have yet to be implemented. By acting as a member of this committee, however, I'd like to think that I'll have helped make the Stanford experience a little better for my classmates.