Special Initiatives of the Chair

Together we are integrating and accelerating our five missions of scientific discovery, clinical innovation and service, educational excellence, community engagement and commitment, and professionalism and leadership.

In pursuit of the five shared missions of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Chairman Laura Roberts has designated a number of projects as Special Initiatives of the Chair. These initiatives span a wide array of foci and scales, but are bound together by a shared capacity to grow the profile of the department while enhancing the public trust which makes all of our work possible. Projects are designated as Special Initiatives in one of several ways: they may reflect strong ideas which need a foothold within the department in order to identify stakeholders and appropriate collaborators, they may embody ongoing efforts which exceed any one lab or unit, or they may represent a commitment to highlighting research which holds transformative promise for innovation.

Our department is creating the path to a better future.


It started in Australia as headspace, brick and mortar sites where young people ages 12-25 get integrated care including early mental health supports, help with school, and web-based connectivity. Stanford Psychiatry's Center for Youth Mental Health & Wellbeing has brought that highly successful model to the US as allcove with the intention to replicate it throughout the country to fill the critical need for youth mental health and early intervention.

The Belonging Project at Stanford

A sense of belonging is deeply important to emotional health and personal wellbeing. It develops when one feels part of a larger community they believe in, that welcomes them, respects and represents their values, and helps them fulfill their aspirations. The Belonging Project’s aim is to advance study on the effects of belonging, be a resource for evidence-driven strategies, and support a culture of inclusiveness and positive belonging within Stanford life.


Brainstorm's mission is to tap into the combined potential of academia and industry – bridging medicine, technology, and entrepreneurship to lead the design and use of clinically-informed tech-enabled products to improve people’s mental health and overall well-being. 

Center for Precision Mental Health and Wellness

Precision psychiatry is part of a biomedical revolution which will change the way medicine will diagnose and treat illness for the individual and for populations. By identifying specific brain circuitry in each individual, personalized corrective measures can be developed to more effectively treat mental illnesses.

Center for Youth Mental Health and Wellbeing

In response to the national public mental health crisis among US youth, the Stanford Center for Youth Mental Health and Wellbeing is spearheading a new national vision for adolescent and young adult wellness and mental health support. By working toward a health system with a full spectrum of support for youth, it's creating a national model for how to better support our young people as they transition to adulthood and realize their full potential.

CIRCLE: Community-minded Interventions for Resilience, Climate Leadership, and Emotional well-being

CIRCLE at Stanford Psychiatry is a research and action initiative devoted to the advancement of Community-minded Interventions for Resilience, Climate Leadership, and Emotional well-being.

Clinical Neuroscience Immersion Experience (CNI-X)

This summer program introduces high school students to the amazing breadth of research and discovery going on in our Department -- from how creativity is visualized with brain waves, how apps and virtual reality are treating eating disorders, to how psychiatrists support human rights cases at the World Court. An emphasis on self-reflection and self-directed learning enhances this unique experience.

Forensic Psychiatry

Working at the interface of psychiatry and the law, forensic psychiatrists provide expert testimony and evaluations critical to our legal system including mental state opinions and competency to stand trial.  Our Program in Psychiatry and the Law offers a multidisciplinary team of world-class faculty with expertise in medicine, mental health, and ethics, whether presented in criminal or civil law, on an individual, corporate, or governmental level.

Global Mental Health Initiative

Through the Global Mental Health Initiative, we are prioritizing the mental health of vulnerable populations by developing and implementing evidence-based programs for wellness, and working for human rights through international psychiatry. Looking to the future, developing educational experiences for trainees in the field is another goal, positioning the department as a leader in mental illness prevention around the world.

Humanities and Medicine: Growing the Heart and Mind of Medicine

Medicine is the most human of the sciences with the physician-patient relationship at its heart. When this human side of medicine is marginalized, clinical outcomes and even health costs suffer. By facilitating an academic and clinical interface between medicine and humanities, this initiative allows the insights and wisdom of campus historians, anthropologists, philosophers and literary scholars find their way into Stanford Medicine.

LGBTQ Mental Health

This special initiative, founded by Dr. Lawrence McGlynn, aims to expand local resources for the LGBTQ community and train a new generation of providers. We have four ongoing projects.

Lifestyle and Sports Psychiatry Initiative

Our mission is to conduct research and provide expert guidance in achieving mental health and optimal performance to create actionable, reliable, and continuously updated resources that translate evidence-based research into guidelines for positive mental health and wellbeing among athletes and others who value self-care. We aim to lead the way in consultation and policy guidance to healthcare systems, governments, sports organizations, corporations, and medical professionals on brain health and quality of life.

Media and Mental Health Initiative

We believe all forms of media (news, entertainment, social) have the power to make a transformational impact on health and mental health, when used accurately, safely and in ethical, developmentally appropriate ways. This initiative, part of the CYMHWB and funded by SPOt, aims to understand and improve the impact of media on mental health through partnerships, collaboration, and projects aimed to enhance the prosocial, safe use of media in multiple forms.

Mental Health Technology & Innovation Hub

The Tech Hub's mission is to empower clinicians, researchers, educators, and industry partners who are driving mental health advancements through technological innovation. We act as catalysts for our community by providing expertise, connections, and resources, with the goal of democratizing effective solutions that improve the well-being of individuals and communities around the world.

Mentorship Initiative for Diversity and Inclusion (MIDI)

MIDI is a structured sponsorship and mentorship initiative designed to meet the needs and experiences of residents with diverse backgrounds, including individuals who are underrepresented in medicine and those who are socially, economically, or educationally disadvantaged. Our aim is to promote a collaborative model of mentorship that provides culturally-informed education, interactive training and social support jointly to mentors and mentees.

Neurodiversity Project

Neurodiversity is a concept that regards individuals with differences in brain function and behavioral traits as part of normal variation in the human population. The movement of Neurodiversity is about uncovering the strengths of neurodiverse individuals and utilizing their talents to increase innovation and productivity of the society as a whole.   

Pegasus Physician Writers at Stanford

The Pegasus Physician Writers at Stanford are a group of academic and private practice physicians in various stages of career development who also are creative writers. The group was founded in 2008 by Audrey Shafer, MD (Anesthesia), Hans Steiner, MD (Psychiatry and Human Development), Irvin Yalom, MD (Psychiatry), and Larry Zaroff, MD, PhD (Cardiac Surgery). This independent group closely collaborates with the Medicine & the Muse, an arts and humanities program at the Stanford School of Medicine.

Race and Mental Health Lab

The Race and Mental Health Lab is an academic consortium of diversity-focused research teams, investigating topics ranging from race-related resilience in physician burnout, to program development in combating anti-Black racism. The mission of the RMHL is to leverage clinical and academic investigation to improve access to mental health services, increase the delivery of quality of care, and improve representation of underrepresented minority providers in psychiatry and psychology.

Virtual Reality & Immersive Technology Program

The VRIT Program is the first clinically focused academic endeavor dedicated to studying immersive technologies such as virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) in mental and behavioral health settings.  Because our internal experience is powerfully shaped by physical sensations, this immersive technology can be precisely personalized for clinical treatments.  We evaluate, innovate, and disseminate advances in this emerging field.

Wellbeing and Self-Care

Our mission to improve the health of individuals, communities, and populations begins with improvement of our own health. With every choice we make to contribute to our own wellbeing, we invest in our own capacity for sustainable contribution to each of our five missions. With every endeavor we engage in collectively to support the wellbeing of our colleagues and team-members, we invest in our collective capacity that multiplies our contributions to our patients, our community, and the world.


There are times when stressors get in the way of balancing the demands of professional and personal life, and without help problems can intensify affecting emotional and physical well-being and professional success. Although emotional distress often manifests in obvious ways, the symptoms of many psychological problems can be subtle. Stanford WellConnect is a confidential mental health referral and consultation for residents and fellows -- we are here to help.


YogaX is a special initiative of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences integrating science and spirituality to inspire health and wellbeing. Its mission is the integration of therapeutic yoga in health and allied healthcare settings. YogaX’s three areas of work - yoga teacher certification, continuing education with a therapeutic yoga focus, and therapeutic yoga services, are rooted in holistic spiritual traditions as well as modern neuroscience, biomedical, and psychological research.

For general inquiries about our Special Initiatives,
please contact Kyle McKinley, Program Manager, at kylemck@stanford.edu