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Establishing Mental Health Literacy in Academia

Updated: Feb 26, 2021

Headshot of Wendy Ingram - a white person with long blond hair which is down in the photo and blue eyes. She is wearing a blue t-shirt and a black blazer and standing in front of a bush of lavendar

Hello!  My name is Wendy Ingram (she/her) and I am this week's Grad Chat special guest! I will be taking over the PhD Balance Instagram tomorrow! 

I’m a researcher and a mental health advocate.  I did my PhD at UC Berkeley in Molecular and Cell Biology and my postdoc at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health in Psychiatric Epidemiology.  My research focuses on understanding psychiatric illness from molecules to populations, but my mental health advocacy is highly personal. 

Content Warning: Suicide

When I was a graduate student, I struggled with my own mental health, but as I tragically learned, I was not alone.  In 2013, our research community at Berkeley was devastated by the loss of classmate to suicide and depression.  In fact, there was a suicide at every level of just our department that year: a faculty, a postdoc, my friend, and an undergraduate. The impact of the loss of friends and colleagues to suicide and mental illness is impossible to describe and even harder to process. 

Action is my coping mechanism.  In the wake of my friend’s death, a group of graduate students got together to figure out how we could create change.  What we discovered was that many, if not all of us, had been struggling with our own mental health in silence, hiding it from one another.  Rather than go it alone, we decided to come together and formed a peer network. 

Next, I helped create a peer network at Johns Hopkins, and most recently, I founded a nonprofit called Dragonfly Mental Health. Dragonfly is dedicated to cultivating excellent mental health among academics worldwide. We are a volunteer-driven global consortium that develops, deploys, and researches evidence-based approaches to improve mental health among academics. Please visit us at to learn more! 

One of our five domains of excellence for mental health is improving mental health literacy which will be the topic of my YouTube Live chat tomorrow.  I hope you’ll join us!


Wendy will be taking over the PhD Instagram account tomorrow before appearing as our special guest on Grad Chat this Saturday (10/24) to talk about Establishing Mental Health Literacy in Academia.

You can also now listen to all our Grad Chat episodes as a podcast, which is hosted on Anchor FM and available on all major streaming services!


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