The Daily reached out to students, staff, faculty, parents and members of the community to discuss their relationship with mental health and Stanford.

This is what they said.

Readers were able to submit comments anonymously through a Google Form promoted through our daily newsletters. These responses are not intended to serve as a representative survey of the campus community. The University responded to community concerns in a conversation with Daily editors which you can find here.

Responses have been lightly edited for clarity and concision.

Content warning: this article contains references to self harm and suicide. If you or someone you know is in need of support, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273-8255.

Support is available for students through Stanford’s Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) 24/7 at (650) 723-3785. The Graduate Life Office (GLO) is available 24/7 via the Stanford operator at (650) 723-7288, pager 25085 and during office hours at (650) 736-7078. The Bridge Peer Counseling Center offers counseling by trained students 24/7 at (650) 723-3392. The Faculty Staff Help Center, located in Kingscote Gardens, offers confidential help for Stanford faculty and staff.

Scroll to read the responses…

“It is so easy to struggle in silence here.”

— Frosh

“The sad truth about mental health at Stanford is that no one really, or truly cares for OTHER people, no no, they're far too busy making sure their name has that big red S next to it.”

— Senior

“I found a close group of supportive friends here at Stanford, so my mental health has improved massively since I got here. I think I got lucky though, making new friends after NSO ends takes a lot of work.”

— Frosh

“The campus culture can be very alienating, due to its competitive, superficial environment.”

— Frosh

“My mental health is good, and I wish more of my students could say the same about themselves. I like working at Stanford, even though it's a stressful environment and I see it as my duty to support students under stress.”

— Faculty Member

“I’ve been pretty depressed this year but it’s getting better finally… working hard to get my life in place more.”

— Junior

“Mental health at Stanford is an afterthought. The administration’s neglect is single-handedly responsible for my breakdown. I spent 45 minutes on hold with CAPS during an emergency trying to get help before my parents rushed to get me.”

— Sophomore

“Not available, not enough.”

— Hospital staff member

“My mental health is actually far better at Stanford than at home. It's not that I have a bad home life or anything, but I feel like I belong here: I'm doing intellectually stimulating work, I'm surrounded by people with like interests and goals, and I have more freedom in what I am able to do. I feel like I'm living a completely separate life at Stanford. There are two "me's," and when I fly back home I feel more like my Stanford self has gone to sleep and my home self has awoken, and similarly for the return to Stanford. That being said, of course taking lots of challenging classes with tight deadlines is stressful. But I get a lot of value from it—it's ‘eustress.’”

— Sophomore

“I had existing mental health problems and the school has offered some resources. However I feel Stanford should have much more in the way of on staff counselors. The entire law school shares one amazing counselor but she is not able to adequately help several hundred law students. I’m sure other departments could likewise use more dedicated counseling staff.”

— Law student

“Sometimes it feels like this is a kind of cesspool of anxiety and overwhelmingness, but that no one is willing to vocalize it. I have made a concerted effort to be open with others — I figure if at least one person voices when they're not doing great, maybe someone else will hear it and know that they're not alone in feeling that way. But it's hard; it feels like everyday I have to put effort into simply doing the right things, like getting up, working out, going to class, doing homework.”

— Frosh

“I called CAPS looking for a therapist during a high-stress time and was essentially forced to wait 2 weeks so I could have a 15-min ‘clearance’ talk with one of their psychs who told me...I should talk to a therapist. It ended up delaying my care in a time when I really needed help. Thinking I had learned a lesson, I tried going to VPGE before Spring Break asking for help with classes amid the suicide/war/COVID trifecta. I felt I needed any sort of crutch or release valve and assumed they would have some way of helping. Their advice? Talk to my professors and tell them I'm stressed. They even admitted it felt ‘cold’ but that they had no other resources available.”

— Co-term/master's student

“The Stanford community often likes to understate the toxicity of ‘duck syndrome’ treating it like the status quo rather than a epidemic facing the campus. The Graduate Life Office even gave graduate students duck stickers essentially trivializing and making it seem like a common occurrence not worthy of additional resources.”

— Ph.D. student

“I once had a therapist ask me ‘if you had to explain your story in one sentence, what would it be?’ At the time, I didn’t answer; I didn’t know how to. But now, I would quote a line the Lumineers: ‘It’s better to feel pain that nothing at all.” At the greatest institution in the world, I beg to feel pain just to know that I can still feel something.’”

— Junior

“My freshman year has been a total bust and Stanford has made its resources completely inaccessible to me.”

— Frosh

“The resources and prominent grief are typically given to undergrads when many graduate students have taken their lives this past year. It is discouraging to not see increased focus on our community when we are Stanford’s students, researchers, teaching staff, support staff and more.”

— Ph.D. student

“Only experience with the Faculty & Staff Help Center and it was very positive!”

— Staff

“The mental health resources at the University are abysmal and the competing culture amongst students coupled with overbearing and demanding faculty makes it difficult to reach out for help.”

— Ph.D. student

“The staff at CAPS have been helpful, but there often seems to be a long wait to access mental health support. I dislike that I feel limited in my options, and that it seems difficult to get long-term care at CAPS. Given the multi-billion dollar endowment, Stanford should be able to provide long-term mental health support for every student at the University.”

— Sophomore

“No help when we needed it — had to fly out from the East Coast to save my son myself.”

— Parent

“I went to CAPS my sophomore year after going through the imposter syndrome song and dance. I had gotten to a point where I was considering taking a LOA to figure myself out. It took almost a month to actually see someone at CAPS, and when I finally did, it was a short session filled with condescending looks and cringey conversation. The guy acted like I was shallow for coming to him with my problems. Overall, I left with a bitter taste in my mouth and less self confidence than when I came. Never went back.”

— Senior

“The goal of the program at the Faculty Staff Help Center appears to be to get you to stop using the center for help. It is not particularly useful if you need help.”

— Staff

“I struggle a little with mental health at Stanford but I try to keep myself busy to avoid dealing with it. It is probably not very healthy of me but I also am unsure of how else to proceed especially given that schedules are busy and it's hard to make time for it.”

— Junior

“The problem, I believe, comes from the dominant idea that one should ‘reach out’ when they are feeling in despair. The propagation of romanticization of mental illness is never more prominent than this moment, this, where people truly believe that a person near their breaking point is capable, is present to ask for, or even WANTS help. ”

— Senior

“Even with more therapists, how do I have time to go to therapy, if I have 10-20 page PSETs due and my grade depends on them? There is little room for failure, too much work, and little support or accommodations. No wonder people are violating the Honor Code. Why would people respect the Honor Code if this university doesn’t respect our time and mental health?”

— Senior

“I don’t feel supported at all by the mental health resources and staff at Stanford. I think the support they advertise for mental health is all a façade.”

— Sophomore

“Mental health is talked about all the time, but when it comes to the point where you or someone you know is actually experiencing mental health struggles, the talk is backed by virtually no support. The wait for a CAPS appointment is weeks long, the quality of support there is low, there are little to no accommodations academically (1-2 day extensions do not count), and there is a general expectation that you should be able to push through like everyone else. And you do push through like everyone else.”

— Senior

“I've used the Faculty Staff Help Center on numerous occasions and I feel it is an exceptional resource.”

— Staff

“Pretty positive. I know there are resources if I need them.”

— Sophomore

“Since being at Stanford, I have realized I have been struggling with mental health issues. It became concerning to me to find that there are little to no resources available on campus. Stanford preaches accessibility to mental health, but in reality it has been incredibly difficult for me to find those.”

— Sophomore

“I've never experienced a place that talks the talk so hard but can't begin to walk the walk. It's really saddening, and it's ultimately perpetuated by the school's administration (*athletic and academic administration).”

— Senior

“I got upset and hung up on the crisis line. They didn’t call back or follow up in any way. I don’t feel at all supported or have any trust in the mental health resources Stanford provides.”

— Co-term/master's student

“I've been battling depression and anxiety, admittedly pretty silently. I feel lucky to have a strong support system at Stanford and at home, but it's still easy to feel alone sometimes. Lately I've been trying to put less pressure on myself and recognize what's really important, but I've realized that can be easier said than done. I love it here, but it's still easy to feel down — especially when you know that so many people around you are struggling silently, too.”

— Junior

“As a staff member, I sometimes feel lost in the mix. With everything going on in the world with the pandemic, war, climate change, cost of living, etc., it's increasingly difficult to ‘put on a happy face,’ so to speak, and be there to support the students and faculty that I am here to support. And I feel there isn't 'acceptable' room to take days off for mental health reasons. I've only been at Stanford for about a year, and I'm not even sure what, if any, resources are there to support me.”

— Staff

“Very poor. Twice over my nearly 30 years at Stanford I sought help for depression through CAPS. The first time, the counselor wanted to attend a staff party, so brushed me off/ended my session early (yes, she actually had the nerve to tell me that she wanted to get to the party). The second time (many years later), I was told that all I had to do was not to be sad and everything would be okay (yes, I am paraphrasing).”

— Staff

“Mental health in student athletes is complicated. We might seem like we are thriving as All Americans and hardworking, dedicated students. However, underneath some of us are dealing with anxiety, identity crises, stress, and burnout. Personally, I've dealt with burnout and being let down by Stanford Athletics. Many people have come to me and said ‘How are you a captain, VP of your organization, and also actively involved in the national athletic board?’ All I can say is that I'm a workaholic and keep myself busy so that I can cover certain issues I'm dealing with. Stanford's resources are there, yet, they don't seem appealing nor approachable. Some of us try to deal with our issues on our own and are afraid to seek resources. I've never used sports psychology resources as I've heard more negative than positive reviews. Stanford broke my trust when they cut our team in June 2020. Why should I seek help from them and trust them with my health now?”

— Junior

“I had to take a leave of absence because of my mental health. I didn't have proper support for mental health services, and the CAPS appointments would take months before it was my turn. By the way, I was admitted for nearly committing suicide, so this scared me because I am not trying to diminish anyone's suffering, but I figured that students that have gone through a situation like this would get immediate attention afterwards.”

— Frosh

“I've found that I often keep myself moving too fast to notice if my mental health is deteriorating. But I can usually tell when my hair starts falling out.”

— Sophomore

“At times — many times it has been difficult to stay focused on a single task. Making sense has also been difficult to the point where I'm constantly questioning my intelligence or lack of intelligence. Many days of having absolutely no energy, eating comfort food way too much because I will have control of that and not mental control to stop it. There's more and wonder when will this end.”

— Staff

“My mental health has never been worse. Being at Stanford made me realize just how bad my mental illness had gotten, and just how out of my control it was. The environment is extremely competitive, and on top of it all no one talks about how difficult it is just to be a Stanford student. I have some days where I cannot get out of bed, and on those days I feel like I don't belong here, because I cannot measure up to my perceptions of my classmates. My depression, my anxiety and my eating disorder have never had more control over my life. But, I also have immense privilege. I have a family that does not stigmatize mental health. I have access to a therapist outside of Stanford, so I don't have to wait for appointments and I can get help from someone who understands my unique situation during times when I am in crisis. On top of that, my insurance actually covers the majority of my therapy bill, so I can go once a week, which I desperately need. It also covers my anti-depressants, which I was able to be prescribed by a board-certified psychiatrist. My mental health is bad, but because of my privilege I have access to a wealth of resources, resources which I know many of my peers do not have access to.”

— Sophomore

“I have found that access to on-campus counseling resources can be extremely limited and difficult to arrange. CAPS often requires screenings with multiple people before students can access an actual one-on-one therapy session, and many students simply cannot wait multiple weeks before they talk to a professional. Especially in an area in which so many services are incredibly expensive, it is essential that Stanford make mental health care not only easily accessible, but also effective and long-term if needed.”

— Frosh

“I have some sympathy for Stanford because I know it must be difficult to provide mental healthcare for our large and diverse student population. But if Stanford cannot provide that care, they must provide pathways to resources that can provide that care. If CAPS has wait times, students should be directed to other therapy or psychiatric healthcare options. If a student has a broken bone and Vaden doesn't have any appointments, we don't tell the student just to wait three months. We tell that student to go to urgent care or another hospital in the area. Why not the same for mental healthcare? By lacking these resources, or supplying imperfect resources, Stanford constantly tells us our mental health just doesn't matter that much.”

— Sophomore

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