Stanford Brainstorm
Stanford Lab for Mental Health Innovation



Empowering future innovators.



Innovative solutions in mental health require a cross-disciplinary approach -- starting with learning from each other.  Our classes are highly collaborative, interactive, and fast-paced, drawing students and faculty from across schools and programs at Stanford. Classes provide current and future leaders with a well-rounded understanding of what is required to effectively innovate in mental health, from the fundamentals of clinical problem solving to human-centered product design.

Some past projects include:

  • A service to decrease stress in high performance environments
  • A program using school based interventions to heal childhood trauma
  • A product to increase physical activity on locked inpatient units
  • An app to connect those at risk for domestic violence to resources and community
  • A social media campaign to decrease stigma of mental illness for teens
  • A nonprofit to provide mental health resources to the children of incarcerated parents

Upcoming Courses


This course - the first university course on mental health innovation - empowers students of all backgrounds to confront contemporary challenges related to the U.S mental health crisis through curiosity, creativity, and strategy. During the semester, students will gain foundational knowledge in mental health, develop skills necessary to apply that knowledge to solutions in a practical context, and interface with world-renowned experts in the industry.

Students will also appreciate the role of cross-sector partnerships in mental healthcare leadership, and, by extension, develop effective communication, collaboration, and decision-making skills. This is partly facilitated by the course structure, which draws on students, faculty, and resources from across the University. Highly entrepreneurial and experiential, this course is ideal for future pioneers in a broad array of careers related to mental health.

Students will collaborate in multidisciplinary teams to design and launch a mental health intervention with the guidance of expert faculty and mentors to improve clinical validity and scalability of the idea. Interventions will range from designing a wearable device, to creating a school based mental health intervention, to establishing better transitions of care for the incarcerated population. 

Winter Term. Wednesdays 4:30-6:20pm. 2 Units. Instructors: Nina Vasan (PI), Gowri Aragam (SI), Steve Chan (SI), Neha Chaudhary (SI), Madison McCall (TA)


Drs. Vasan and Bandstra skip to a beat that keeps students engaged and inspired, highlighting the newest developments in the mental health space from both academia and industry. Students come from all walks of campus life... a unique composition that facilitates greater lateral thinking, innovation, and an amazing classroom environment. This class represents Stanford at its best.
— Max Savage, CEO of Atlas Mental Health

Mental healthcare needs innovative solutions, and this course provides the perfect toolkit for students to make real change. Dr. Vasan and Dr. Bandstra have developed a thoughtful, rigorous approach for teaching students how to tackle the most important challenges in mental and behavioral health.
— James Rathmell, JD/MBA Student