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Taking Care of Ourselves & Each Other

Health & Well-Being

Samantha, Flourish Stories. (AI Edit) Credit: Andrew Brodhead


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Content Note

Flourish Stories may include discussions of struggles or language that may be distressing to you. As you read each student's story, we encourage you to prioritize your own emotional well-being. Take a break from reading or seek support if needed. Remember, it's OK to not be OK. 

In the past I’ve felt that I didn’t really have the right to speak on mental health because I thought I’d been doing a good job of dealing with it on my own. What I’ve realized is... every mental health journey is different yet valuable ... ” 

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Sam's Story

“I feel like I have been very lucky in that I've always been able to have a pretty positive outlook on life. I'm a very naturally optimistic person, and if I’m in a dilemma, I’m usually able to remind myself that everything is going to be OK. In the past, I’ve felt that I didn’t really have the right to speak on mental health because I thought I’d been doing a good job of dealing with it on my own. What I’ve realized is I was just invalidating my own feelings, my own struggles, and comparing and contrasting myself to other people; every mental health journey is different yet valuable. But this year, alongside a few of my friends, I started therapy through Stanford’s Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), and it’s been the best decision. 

My parents were born and raised in the Philippines, and I am very proud to be Filipino American, but there are a lot of obstacles and things I’ve had to figure out, identity-wise, on my own. My parents were taught to suppress mental health, and growing up in a Roman Catholic background, if there was something they were struggling with, they were told to ‘just pray it away.’ And while I was taught that, too, I was also able to see how important mental health is and, through that, help my parents see how important it is. I love my family, and I feel very lucky to be here to help be a bridge between mental health awareness and things they maybe didn't previously know. 

Growing up, I was often tasked with helping our family, like helping my autistic brother with therapy and taking care of him whenever my parents were out. Even now, when I’m home on break, I drive my sister to school, I take my dad to work. I’ve never seen my family responsibilities as a burden; I love being able to help out, especially because I know how much they sacrifice for me. But with this built-in responsibility, I’ve developed the tendency to feel really guilty if I’m just chilling and not doing something to help or something that needs to be done. I was also subconsciously taught to not really talk about successes and to suppress feelings of pride, to not come off as boastful or a showoff. So I tend to downgrade myself in ways that show people I’m not like that. 

I tend to internalize a lot of things, maybe problems that aren’t necessarily my own to deal with, but it comes from wanting to make sure everyone is OK. Recently I’ve been trying to remember that it’s OK to ask for help, that one person can’t do everything by themselves, and that people who see how much work you’re putting in and care about you are willing and want to help. But it’s something I’m still learning — that I’m not being a burden to anyone. 

I grew up very artsy and still am. I sing and still love drawing. I’ve realized, especially throughout this past year, that if I didn’t have art and music in my life, I would genuinely go insane. There were tough times this quarter where I would head back to my room to do karaoke with my guitar or head to Braun to use the practice rooms. 

I’ve grown to be someone who is not afraid of expressing love, loving loudly (as my mom says) and having my passions all come together. I work for the Disability Community Space on campus, and it’s a dream job. I’m able to combine my passion for visual art and disability advocacy. But this also has been a really tough year for me in terms of not just class, but outside stuff like extracurriculars. I have an amazing support system here, but have felt very alone at times. So I often make the time to head over to Main Quad to journal or just think. I’ll remind myself of 16- or 17-year-old Sam, who wanted so badly to come to Stanford, and it elicits these feelings of gratitude. 

I feel like every year at Stanford, every quarter since freshman year, the foundation of who Sam is remains the same, but she gets stronger. And it’s kind of crazy to think that if current Sam could meet freshman fall quarter Sam, she’d see a totally different person. I’d tell her that it’s OK to do stuff just for her. And that she’s not responsible for other people’s happiness. The one person I can make happy is me, so I’d tell past me to continue to love loudly and love deeply, but also to take time for myself.” 

Additional Details About Sam

  • Class of ’26
  • BA, Communication
Littlefield garden, 2022. Credit: Andrew Brodhead

Mental Health Resources at Stanford

This website is your go-to hub for navigating the many mental health and well-being resources at Stanford. Whether you are seeking advice to establish your self-care routine, looking for ways to manage stress or mental health symptoms, tips to help a friend, someone supportive to talk to, or anything in between, you are not alone.

Professional staff and your peers are ready to support you, regardless of what point you are in your mental health and well-being journey.