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Nikita Desai

Nikita Desai, '15

Fighting silence, ending stigma

During my freshman year, as a member of Stanford Peace of Mind (SPoM), I saw students boldly share their struggles with mental illness at panels in dorms and residences across campus. I was struck by the cathartic effect of opening up in a way they otherwise never would have felt comfortable doing. Even more astounding was the manner in which the speakers' exposure of their vulnerabilities inspired so many others to speak out and share similar stories of their own.

Recognizing the importance of supporting mental health on campus for the well-being of all students, I agreed to lead SPoM in my sophomore year. We worked to revitalize our dorm panel series, learned about the findings of the Provost's Student Mental Health and Well-Being Task Force from Senior Associate Dean for Religious Life Rabbi Patricia Karlin-Neumann, and hosted Stanford alumnus and acclaimed film director, producer and writer Jay Roach, '80, to share his personal experience with depression.

Almost one in four Americans suffer from mental illness. My SPoM experience has shown me that Stanford students are no exception, and my work this year to support student mental health on campus through the ASSU Executive has revealed that open dialogue is the key to securing mental well-being – now for Stanford students, soon for all Americans, and, eventually, for the world.

Nikita Desai, '15, majored in science, technology & society.
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