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Centering mental health

Kelsey Foster

Kelsey Foster

PhD student
Earth System Science

“I’ve learned that the more I prioritize my mental health, the more I am able show up fully for my research and all other areas of my life,” said Kelsey Foster, a PhD student in Earth System Science.

Foster knows that good science starts with a healthy mental state – and she hopes to communicate that knowledge to other students by uplifting individuals’ identities and creating a more empowered community at Stanford. “I’m a scientist, but my identity is more than just that. While I am a scientist, I am also biracial – half Filipino and half American – I am a dancer, I am a daughter, and a friend,” she said.

“It’s important to take these facets of our identities into account because they interact with our science. More recently the violence against the Asian community has had an impact on me. I often think about why these attacks are happening. I’m learning how to accept where I am in the present moment and progress in my research as best as I can.”

As a peer wellness liaison for the Earth System Science Department, Foster is a trained peer health educator who directs fellow students to existing resources and facilitates meaningful dialogue, skill-building, and habit formation related to mental health at Stanford Earth. “I know that sometimes it can be hard to find the right resources, but the peer wellness liaison program has been a great way for me to learn about the resources that Stanford has and to share that with others,” she said.

While Foster is grateful for discussions about the importance of mental health in the School and the university, she said she would like to see more attention given to the actual practice of supporting mental health. “I think if students don’t see their advisors and mentors modeling what it means to prioritize mental health in academia, it can be difficult to figure out how to prioritize their own mental health.”

“I personally feel grateful to work in an environment where I can see the different ways in which people prioritize their own and others well-being, but I know this is not the case for everyone.”

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