AMPLIFY Mental Health Scholarship

Funded by
Steph Smith
Learn more about the Donor
1 winner
Application Deadline
May 1, 2021
Winners Announced
May 31, 2021
Education Level

Nearly 800,000 people die by suicide in the world each year, which is roughly one death every 40 seconds. By the time you read this description, at least one person will have taken their lives.

But suicide is often the conclusion of a long story of mental illness, and there are still hundreds of millions of people around the world suffering.

A personal story that I rarely tell is that of my sister’s mental health struggle. She was diagnosed with anorexia in junior high school and has wrestled with other mental illnesses for nearly two decades since. 

The reality is that my sister isn’t the outlier. She is one of billions around the world that will face mental illness at some point in their lives. It is one of the only unifiers that traverses borders, race, gender, or religion. It is truly ubiquitous. 

Mental illness is part of someone’s story, but it does not need to define them. Abraham Lincoln fought clinical depression throughout his life. Dr. John Nash, the Nobel Price winner for his work on game theory, suffered from schizophrenia. Lady Gaga had spoken out about her battle with PTSD.

After a worldwide pandemic, we’re more isolated than ever and mental health illnesses are soaring. As we work to normalize the dialogue around mental health, this scholarship aims to support any student pursuing any field of study that has battled or had a loved one battle mental illness. 

To apply, please share a 300-word essay describing your personal/loved one’s journey and how you want to use these experiences to positively impact the lives of others battling mental illness.

I feel that now, especially during this pandemic and isolation, many people are becoming overwhelmed, stressed out, and afraid. More and more people now more than ever, need help to overcome these mental obstacles so that they are not holding themselves back from the happy and successful life they deserve.

To apply for this scholarship, you will be required to write about your experience with mental illness and how this has impacted your life.

This scholarship is part of a 12-part Amplify Scholarship Series, spanning topics including women in tech, continuous learning, environmental science, and more. These scholarships are announced quarterly and awarded monthly throughout 2021. Follow along here!

Mental Health
Selection Criteria:
Essay Topic

Tell us about how mental health has impacted your life and career aspirations. What have you learned from these experiences and what do you hope to achieve moving forward?

400–700 words

Winning Application

Julia Song
New York UniversitySanta Monica, CA
As a youth mental health advocate, I have spoken on panels with NAMI, We Rise LA, Childhood USA & Comic Relief in the last year. Most recently I co-facilitated a Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission (MHSOAC) prevention and early intervention peer listening session. I first became involved with mental health advocacy when my film "Abbreviated Soliloquies" won the Team Pick award for the "Mental Health Matters" category of the Directing Change Program, whose mission is to educate youth through the medium of film. Although my participation with Directing Change occurred in May of 2020, "Abbreviated Soliloquies" was a shortened version of my film "Soliloquies," which I made three years earlier. In May of 2017, I was diagnosed with ADHD and social anxiety, and a few months later, I went to New York as a part of Ghetto Film School's summer residency program- a two week period wherein which we stayed at NYU and took classes with the film professors, culminating in a screening of each of our personal narrative films. At the time, I had not spoken to anyone other than my doctor and (just barely) my parents, but I wanted to take the personal narrative assignment as an opportunity to explore how my recent diagnosis affected me and my life. Screening the film was terrifying because not only was I having a real, honest dialogue with myself (hence the name "Soliloquies") for the first time, but that inner conversation was going to be shown to my classmates, whom I had known for almost two years at the time. I was scared they were going to view me differently, that they were going to see me as weak. But I couldn't have been more wrong. After the screening, my friends and classmates came up to me and told me how much they related to my experience. How if I ever needed anything or anyone, they were there to support me. Two years later, "Soliloquies" was screened publicly, this time at the 2018 Cinequest International Film & Creativity Festival in the "Animated Worlds" category. My experience was similar to the summer two years prior: anxiety about being vulnerable, followed by support from some audience members. People of various ages came up to me after the screening and told me how much they were able to relate to my film. I think this was the first time where I fully grasped the power film has to make positive, impactful change. For me, mental health's long history of stigmatization deterred me from seeking support. However, with film, I hope to normalize the conversation surrounding mental health and show others that they are not alone in an experience that often feels so isolating. In addition to going to NYU Tisch to continue my film studies, I have become involved with philanthropy and grant making through my participation with Comic Relief as a Youth Advisory Council Member. Here, I hope to continue my mental health advocacy by funding youth-led mental health organizations. While I have accomplished a lot in the realm of mental health advocacy, I also think it's important to acknowledge that I still struggle with mental health to this day. In the last four years, I have been diagnosed with generalized anxiety and depression. I've learned that one's experience with mental health is ever-changing with its ups and downs. Over the years, as I've become more vocal about my experiences with mental health, I've come to really value and appreciate the support of friends and family. I am incredibly lucky to have a strong support system, and by making films and continuing the conversation, I hope to normalize the discussion of mental health so others can find supports of their own and see that they are not, in fact, alone.


When is the scholarship application deadline?

The application deadline is May 1, 2021. Winners will be announced on May 31, 2021.

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