Elis for Rachael Announces Non-Profit Status on Mental Health Panel

Gathering online and in person Thursday evening, students and alumni gathered for a mental health panel hosted by the Yale Student Mental Health Association and Elis for Rachael.

Sarah Cook

4:17 am November 4, 2022

Staff reporter

Courtesy of Paul Mange Johnson

The Mental Health Advocacy Group Ellis to Rachel hosted a panel with the Yale Student Mental Health Association Thursday night, drawing more than 50 students and alumni to the New Haven Hotel or via Zoom.

At the panel, the group announced its new status as a registered non-profit organization. The announcement comes more than a year after the group was founded by Yale alumni and friends of Rachel Shaw-Rosenbaum ’24.

“The discussion was powerful and productive,” Rishi Mirchandani ’19, leader of Elis for Rachel, wrote to the News. “Even as a student, I learned a lot from the stories and insights that were shared.”

Mirchandani added that establishing the group as a non-profit organization was a “huge step”.

While the group has raised and distributed more than $10,000 in the past year, Mirchandani wrote that maintaining this level of relief is “a challenge,” so incorporating as a nonprofit will help the group continue to direct funds to students engaged in with mental health crises because it allows them to collect tax-deductible donations.

Paul Mange Johansen ’88 — one of the leaders of Elis for Rachael, who attended the event in person — said he hopes the nonprofit will make it easier for people to donate to the funds that go to students, but he also said it means , that they are in it for the “long haul.”

Peyton Meyer ’24, YSMHA co-director, wrote to the News that he found the event “helpful.” Meyer said it was “meaningful” to hear alumni talk about how supportive they are of current students, adding that it was also impactful to hear from the students themselves.

“Hearing from students with similar current experiences and alumni who have themselves been through mental health issues at Yale is extremely validating,” Meyer wrote to the News.

“It’s important for students struggling with their mental health to know they’re not alone.”

Miriam Kopito ’23, former YSMHA director, said she attended a similar event in the past, which was a turning point in her undergraduate career.

Kopito told the News that hearing from alumni is an “affirming way” to know that people have gone through similar mental health experiences at Yale.

“Alumni are in a unique position to talk more honestly and openly about mental health than undergraduates because undergraduates are under the pressure of faculty and what the administrator thinks of us,” Kopito said.

He told the News that he hopes one of the main takeaways from the event is to help people know they’re not alone.

“One of the problems, having been in a dark place myself, is that the walls get very small and you feel like you’re the only one who’s had these experiences or suffered this way before,” Johansen said. “As much as you can let people know they’re not alone, which doesn’t mean their experience isn’t important, but there are people out there who understand what they’re going through.”

Meyer added that she finds it especially helpful to hear from students and alumni about the strategies they’ve used to improve their own mental health.

A “key takeaway” for him was that there won’t be “one big, definitive solution” to improving mental health, but there are likely to be “smaller things that you can combine over time and layer on top of each other”, to achieve long-term mental health goals.

“It’s important to talk to alumni because they’re in the unique position of understanding to some degree what we go through and what we experience specifically as Yale students, while also being able to contextualize that with more real-world experiences outside of the Yale bubble.” , Mayer wrote.

The event features a wide variety of mental health topics and provides opportunities for students and alumni to discuss their personal experiences with mental health at Yale.

Mirchandani wrote that he thought some of the most important topics were how to counter Yale’s make-it-or-leave-it culture, self-care measures to take outside of clinical care, how to build a healthy perspective on Yale as “just one aspect of our lives” and how to facilitate productive conversations with peers and instructors about mental health needs.

Mirchandani told the News that Elis for Rachael aims to stay in touch with current students to stay abreast of their “current needs and interests.” Elis for Rachael members also hoped to share their retrospective insights into their past struggles at Yale to share ways they “eventually found ways to cope” at the event.

In addition to advocacy, Elis for Rachael provides support for current students by providing financial assistance for those dealing with mental health crises and alumni mentoring.

Elis for Rachael was founded in Spring 2021.


Sarah Cook covers politics and student affairs and previously covered President Salovey’s office. Originally from Nashville, Tennessee, she is a first year at Grace Hopper majoring in Neurology.

Leave a Comment