The goals of the Princeton Mental Health Initiative are to increase awareness of mental wellness by connecting students with information about campus resources,reduce the stigma regarding seeking help, and start and maintain a positive dialogue that is crucial to a safe and supportive community.
A central component of this initiative is the third annual Princeton Mental Health Week being held from March 3 to March 7, 2014. The week’s events will touch on subjects ranging from stress to mental illness through events, movie screenings, online content, and the “What I Be” project. Through this website, we intend to streamline access to information and show students that they are not alone in seeking support.
We hope that you all explore this website to find blog posts from students, staff, and campus resources; a schedule of events for Mental Health Week; profiles of peer advisors and CPS staff; photographs and student stories from the “What I Be” project, and more.
The Mental Health Initiative Board is a committee of the USG Senate that oversees Princeton Mental Health Week and the Princeton Mental Health Initiative. Meet the Board below!
Meet the Board
Zhan Okuda-Lim ’15
Hi Princeton! My name is Zhan Okuda-Lim, and I serve as the Chair of the Princeton Mental Health Initiative Board. In addition, I also serve on the USG Senate as a U-Councilor. I was born and raised in Las Vegas, Nevada (the climate is MUCH different at Princeton), and I am a junior in the Woodrow Wilson School with a focus on public education policy; I am also pursuing an American Studies certificate. I am not DO[ing] WORK, I enjoy keeping up with the latest political news and current events, reading for leisure, working out, relaxing with friends, meeting new people, and going to campus events. On campus, I also serve as an RCA at Forbes College and as a member of the Pace Council for Civic Values at the Pace Center for Civic Engagement. I am also a member of Students for Education Reform and a Committee Chair and Head Chair for Princeton Model Congress in Whig-Clio.
I joined the USG project team for Mental Health Week in 2013 because of my personal experiences with mental health issues on campus. I want to show Princetonians who may be struggling with mental health issues that they are not alone. There is help. There is hope. You can move forward. (Trigger Warning) My freshman year, I was drowning from years of bullying, low self-esteem, and depression. However, I never told anyone because I did not think anybody would understand. I felt alone. After one night when I hit rock bottom and had severe suicidal ideation (from which my parents brought me back from the brink after a long phone call), I finally decided to go to CPS, which I credit with turning my mindset towards a more positive outlook. Since participating in the “What I Be” project last year, I have dedicated myself not only to living a more positive life—I also want to show others who are struggling that they can move forward. It is a journey and a struggle—we have to take things day by day—but know that it is worth it. You are not alone. And you can make it.
Rachel Bronheim ’15
Hi! My name is Rachel Bronheim, and I’m a Junior from Great Neck, NY. I am a Pre- med Woodrow Wilson School concentrator and am pursuing a certificate in Values and Public Life. On campus, a involved with SHARE, Princeton Mental Health Initiative, the CJL, Whig-Clio, and the Student Bioethics Forum. I’m also an Orange Key tour guide. If you see me around campus, don’t hesitate to say hi!
As a peer advisor and a Mental Health Initiative Board Member, I think open dialogue is one of the most important ways to raise awareness about mental health issues on this campus. Dialogue can help foster an open, supportive community that helps students get the help they need without feeling scared or judged–which can help create a healthier, happier student body.
Jasmine Wang ’17
Hey guys! I am a freshman student in Butler College. I love to eat (a lot) and sing every waking moment of each day. I write as an outlet in my free time (as well as news for the Daily Princetonian) and am a member of Tigressions.
As someone who’s had their own fair share of mental struggles, I am sick and tired of the silence. What is more important than the way we live our lives and our happiness? Why are we mute? I want to help all of us understand that there is no better time than right now to open your eyes and mind to the beauty around us and the beauty within you.
Jason Yu ’16
Hey guys! I’m Jason and I’m a sophomore from Walnut Creek, California. Like any Northern Californian, I’m missing the sunny weather very much! In addition to being involved with the Mental Health Initiative, I’m a student athlete wellness leader, a member of the lightweight rowing team, and helped plan the TEDx talk earlier this year. As someone who experiences the stresses of Princeton everyday, please feel free to reach out if you want someone to talk to. I’d be more than happy to listen!
The problem with our campus culture is that everyone thinks that they’re the only people struggling. This leads to everyone keeping their problems inside instead of talking to people about them, the very thing that can help the problem. I hope that by facilitating dialogue, more and more people will be comfortable with talking about what’s on their minds and we can all heal together.
Laura Du ’14
Hi Princeton! I am a senior and WWS major from Beijing (where I lived from 2001-2010) and Portland, OR. I am interested in K-12 education reform, entrepreneurship, and topics in leadership, innovation, and all kinds of inspiration! You can also find me on twitter @laurayd.
I want to represent the friends and classmates around me who struggle, sometimes successfully, other times less successfully, to deal with the excitement and stress of being at a place like Princeton – to figure out where you belong, whom you belong with, and what you care about.
Akshata Shirahatti ’14, Rockefeller College | Peer Health Advisor
Hey everyone! I’m a senior from Atlanta, GA, and being apart of the SHARE program has been a highlight of my Princeton experience. On campus I enjoy serving on the executive board of Tropical Clinics for Rural Health, dancing with Naacho South Asian Dance Company, and being an Outdoor Action Leader.
I think that Mental Health Week is an incredible way to get Princeton students talking about issues that are often internalized or pushed aside. There is no reason that anyone should have to feel isolated or alone when dealing with the stress and demanding atmosphere that school can impose. Through dialogue, education, and increasing awareness about resources on campus, Mental Health Week is critical in maintaining a network of support and care on campus.
Ariana Lazzaroni ’15
I am a junior on campus involved in a variety of things, from backpacking to belly dancing, and I am excited to take on the new cause that I am passionate about: well-being.
Mental health is important to me because everyone should be able to love the life they were given and appreciate every second.
Anchal Padukone ’16
Hi! I’m Anchal, and I’m a sophomore from Mumbai, India. Apart from being on the MHI Board, I tutor SAT prep with Let’s Get Ready, and I’m involved with TropicalClinics For Rural Health and Princeton South Asian Theatrics. I enjoy tea, poetry and train journeys (in addition to a good old-fashioned Indian monsoon).
At Princeton, I feel like we’re under a lot of pressure to be “effortlessly perfect”. This dangerous ideal may not only nudge us towards self-doubt, depression and anxiety, but may also prevent us from seeking help when we need it – in our bid to conceal our vulnerability. I think this calls for opening a campus-wide dialogue, and working together as a community to reduce the stigma associated with mental health.
Fred Shaykis ’15
I’m a Junior from New York City majoring in Psychology. I’m passionate about issues of health and wellness, and am honored to serve on the Board of the Mental Health Initiative! On campus, you might see me singing with Off the Record or playing IM sports.
Promoting mental health is about so much more than avoiding mental illness. Our well being is determined by the things we do every day – for example, eating, sleeping, exercising, and socializing. In spite of how busy and involved everyone seems to be on campus, I think we should put our health and well being first to ensure that we’re functioning at the optimal level. For me, college has been all about learning how to take care of myself. I’ve learned that as amazing as everyone seems, we all have weaknesses and insecurities at times. That’s why it’s important to develop good habits and utilize all the resources and social support that is available to us.
Amalya Megerman ’16
Hi, I’m Amalya and I’m a sophomore from Teaneck, New Jersey. I’m in the Anthropology department, also studying Chinese and Visual Art. Besides the Mental Health Initiative, I’m a member of the Ellipses Slam Poetry Team, involved at the Center for Jewish Life, an Outdoor Action leader, and a staff photographer for the Picture Perfect Agency. If you ever want to talk, even if we haven’t met, please reach out!
I think it can sometimes be very difficult for students to maintain good mental health at Princeton, but I would like to help students realize that they aren’t in the minority when they face these issues. I’m really committed to sparking a more genuine dialogue on campus regarding not only mental health, but how we feel in general. By encouraging people to honestly share how they feel, I hope students will begin to feel more comfortable turning to their friends and classmates in times of need. Ultimately, I hope we can change the conversation on campus to include not only what we do (clubs, internships, classes) but who we are and how we feel.
Priya Krishnan ’16
Hi! My name is Priya and I’m from McLean, Virginia. I’m a sophomore and a Woodrow Wilson School major. Outside of the Mental Health Board, I also serve as Secretary of the Class of 2016, Co-President of the Sustainable Fashion Initiative, and member of Pi Beta Phi. To relieve stress, I like to exercise, read, or listen to music. Feel free to reach out!
At a place like Princeton, there is often a stigma against mental health. People would like to appear as if they have everything under control at all times. However, everyone has their ups and downs and mental health should be just as important as physical health. Just as people exercise for physical health, people should take steps everyday to ensure their mental health and wellbeing. No one should feel ashamed to talk about how they’re feeling—there’s probably someone else going through the exact same thing.