Student Voices for Wellness

What do Columbia students have to say about mental health and well-being? Here are some voices from across our community. If you have something you'd like to share, write to us here.


Ambassadors help spread the word, staff various events, engage with other student leaders and contribute ideas for Wellness Days.

Columbia Students' Mental Health Task Force

Julien Saint Reiman, Columbia College '18
"A lot of anxiety comes from comparing yourself to other people. Everyone's life -- their resume, their friends, the way they carry themselves -- may look beyond incredible to you. You'll wonder why you aren't like them, where you went wrong in your life...Don't think this. Know that everyone around you, especially the ones who work so hard, are struggling. They are wondering just as much as you are if they're going the right way. I think most of the time we're all feeling the same way. The key to this, then, isn't just to stop comparing yourself to others -- instead it’s to talk about it. Reach out -- to family, to close friends, or to someone that sits across from you in a seminar...We need to use our unique knowledge as students to help other Columbians. You're here to learn, to gain the skills necessary to do something interesting in the world. But you're also here because you know more about being a student than most. Use that gift too."


Kunal Shah, Columbia College '17
Kunal is also a member of the Student Health Advisory Committee.
"Over my four years at Columbia, I have learned that students care deeply about one another, and when asked for help, support one another in times of stress. One of the most important facets of well-being is a strong social support that you can rely on -- I am fortunate to have an incredible group of friends who I can always talk to about my sources of stress and any problems, and from whom I can receive great advice or encouragement when I need it. Try and have a good laugh every day. Be it by playing a game with friends, watching some TV or browsing memes as a break, trying to make sure humor is a part of my day-to-day life takes my mind off of what may be stressful, and can be very energizing."


Student Wellness Project

More about Student Wellness Project here.

Ryan Marissa Bathras, Columbia College '17
"The Student Wellness Project aims to foster self-love and kindness within the community and has helped me personally find relief and support for my own mental well-being. Utilizing the resources available to us students may initially seem challenging for a number of reasons, but simply devoting the time and energy necessary to use the resources commits oneself to self-care. I am motivated and empowered to use my own experiences and those that I see of others within our community to help. Student Wellness Project is students helping students; everything we discuss is inherently topical, which is powerful."


Jess Swanson, Columbia College '17; Columbia Students' Mental Health Task Force
"This is the space in which I always feel safe to share my daily struggles with mental health. It is liberating to be able to say how I truly feel and receive non-judgemental support. I think this is what a culture of wellness looks like and we are working to reproduce this kind of culture at a campus level. Thank you."

StorySpace @ Columbia

Michael Harley, General Studies '18
"I was this extremely anxious and depressed kid who was constantly closed off and lost in his head; I barely had any close friends. At the end of the day, all I really wanted to do was connect with the people around me."

Julien Saint Reiman, Columbia College '18
"I was just tired. I had a long day, I was stressed out. I was running on three hours of sleep and two cups of coffee - you guys know how that feels. I didn't want to deal with it... I'm not going to have a lot of time in my life, and with that time...I want to be nice, and I want to be nice to people."


Ifeoma Nwoke, General Studies '17
"I am someone that suffers from mental illness - specifically, depression. 
The thing about a ward is you’re basically locked in…despite the fact that we were all just locked in, and it felt claustrophobic, it probably was the first time I felt human - I felt like I belonged. 
Despite the surreal nature of it all…I enjoyed my time there. I felt at home amongst all of the psychoses. Despite the heaviness, despite the sadness, and despite the depression - it was the first time I felt like I belonged."


Carolina Downie, Mailman School of Public Health '18
“I have not quite mastered the art of figuring out how to present myself in a way where I’m interesting but not too weird, where I’m smart but not nerdy-just fun. I don’t want diabetes to define me…Even among people I am close to, I try not to talk about it too much because I don’t want to bother or annoy them. But you can’t live with a disease as challenging and unrelenting as type-one diabetes and not have it fundamentally affect you…And so, when people do ask me about it, I almost feel grateful that they’re giving me the opportunity to share. I realize that a lot of people are struggling with these sorts of questions about belonging and their identity."