Letters to Strangers: Youth-to-Youth Mental Health with Diana Chao– Episode 253

There is a lot of psychological research that shows that there’s so much healing power in a secure relationship where you can speak and share how you feel. In this episode, Dr. Erin Elmore speaks with Diana Chao, founder and Executive Director of Letters to Strangers, a non-profit that seeks to destigmatize mental illness and increase access to affordable, quality mental health treatment for young people. Diana has a really unique story. She grew up with bipolar disorder and complex PTSD. After surviving a series of suicide attempts, Diana found healing from an unexpected source: writing. In writing letters to strangers, Diana realized she was not alone and later founded the youth-run organization Letters to Strangers. Diana has been honored by two U.S. presidents at the White House, was the winner of the Princess Diana Awards in 2021, was the youngest-ever winner of the Unilever Young Entrepreneurs Award and gave a TEDxTeen speech at the PlayStation Theater in Times Square to a standing ovation. In addition to mental health advocacy, Diana worked for NASA, published a novel at the age of 13, and received recognition from the U.S. Navy for her work on dengue fever. Diana is also an award-winning artist and conceptual photographer. Together Erin and Diana discuss the Letters to Strangers inception, details of the program, and ways for youth to get involved.


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