Harvard Alumni for Mental Health Special Interest Group was co-founded by Annie Douglas ('12) and Dr. Paul Barreira, former Chief of Psychiatry at Harvard Counseling and Mental Health Services, during Annie's gap year after college graduation. In that year she worked at CAMHS and devoted her efforts to forming the SIG with Dr. Barreira. At the time, HAMH served as the post-college professional development community for undergraduate peer mental health liaisons and peer mental health counselors.
As Annie went on to pursue medical school and residency, Dr. Mark Albanese and Dr. Maureen Rezendes succeeded her in co-leading the SIG as President and Vice President. Under their leadership, the SIG expanded its work with undergraduate students to include event collaborations with the Office of Career Services. At this time the SIG also began to include in its membership and undergraduate panels not only traditional mental health professionals such as psychiatrists and psychologists but also social work, business, public health, and tech professionals. Also at this time under the guidance of Dr. Daniel Foti who was Treasurer and Officer, Harvard Alumni for Mental Health attained 501(c)(3) nonprofit status in 2017.
When both Mark and Maureen received career advancement opportunities at the Cambridge Health Alliance and Massachusetts Institute of Technology respectively, Sreeja Kalapurakkel (then member of the Board) continued in their place as leader of the SIG. Since early 2019, Sreeja has utilized an evidence-based community participatory approach to guide her vision for the SIG and will continue to do so through the end of her term which finishes in August 2021.
In September 2020 the Harvard Alumni for Mental Health Taskforce was formed to investigate the need for mental health support among Harvard alumni/ae which had increased in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Harvard Alumni for Mental Health is a group created and shaped by the collection of ideas envisioned by Harvard alumni for a world with greater access to mental healthcare. It continues to take shape via member-driven initiatives.