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An inside look at Stanford’s mental health innovation course – Health News Today


  • “PSYC 240: Designing for the 2 Billion Leading Innovation in Mental Health” and its follow-up course “PSYC 242: Mental Health Innovation Studio: Entrepreneurship, Technology, and Policy” are the first university courses on mental health innovation. 
  • The courses, led by the Stanford Brainstorm Lab in the School of Medicine, were designed to empower students to tackle contemporary challenges related to the US mental health crisis with innovative solutions through curiosity, creativity, and strategy.
  • Students and staff told Business Insider the course is a combination of studying the nuances of mental health, learning from innovators, CEOs, and practitioners in the space, and coming up with your own idea for a startup company or product.
  • The classes have bred leaders like Ariela Safira — founder of women’s mental health studio and digital platform Real, which raised $3.5 million in funding — and Max Savage, founder of Altas Mental Health, a wellness journaling app funded by Sequoia Capital Scouts and Kleiner Perkins.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Over 47 million adults in the United States reported having a mental illness between 2017 and 2018, and of that 47 million, about 11 million reported having serious mental disorders. 

In a recent survey conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation, nearly half (45%) of adults reported that their mental health has been negatively influenced by stress and worry around the coronavirus. 

There’s no doubt that the pandemic is catalyzing a mental health crisis — and low clinician-to-patient ratios, varying levels of stigma, late diagnoses, increased costs, and more prevent traditional healthcare systems from tackling this issue effectively. 

That’s why the Stanford Brainstorm Lab at Stanford’s School of Medicine created “PSYC 240: Designing for the 2 Billion Leading Innovation in Mental Health” and “PSYC 242: Mental Health Innovation Studio: Entrepreneurship, Technology, and Policy” in 2017 and 2020 respectively. The sister courses are designed to equip the next generation of entrepreneurs with the skills and strategies to create companies, tools, and technologies to improve mental healthcare. 

These are the first ever university courses on mental health innovation, covering the fundamentals of patient challenges and needs, the healthcare system, and human-centered product design.

The course is spearheaded by faculty from Brainstorm: The Stanford Lab for Mental Health Innovation, the world’s first academic laboratory dedicated to transforming mental health through innovation and entrepreneurship, and taught by four psychiatrists and experts of mental health technology and innovation: Dr. Nina Vasan, Dr. Gowri Aragam, Dr. Neha Chaudhary, and Dr. Steven Chan. 

Students brainstorming.

Nina Vasan/Brainstorm Lab

In the course, faculty highlight that different communities…

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