At seven, Mahima Gyamlani developed selective mutism after being bullied for her American accent when her family moved to India. She barely spoke for three years.
Today, at 17, Mahima, a student at Houston’s Awty International School, is a mental health advocate who hosts a podcast, has graced a Tedx stage, has been published in a medical journal and aspires to speak at the United Nations.
Mahima also developed an app, Starfly, to bring kids with chronic illnesses together in a safe, bullying-free space where they can play together with art, music and games, so they don’t feel isolated like she did. A Texas children’s hospital is reviewing Starfly, and kids using it have said they love it because they have made new friends who engage without judging.
According to the CDC, over 40% of kids suffer from chronic illness or have permanent disabilities. That’s over 30 million kids in the US alone.
Children with chronic illness or disability are more likely to experience isolation, depression, and degraded mental health. To make matters worse, medical research consistently demonstrates that most health outcomes are greatly impacted by the mental state of a patient.
Starfly changes all of this for kids, by making sure they are able to connect and build supporting relationships with their peers in a bully-free, positive environment focused on shared experience.
She dedicates much of her time to volunteering for Choose to DO, Inc., a mental health not-for-profit, conducting research at the Ben Taub Hospital and leading her school’s mental health club.
Mahima Gyamlani is the President of Mental Health Club at Awty International School and collaborates with a team of 50 members to assist high school students cope with their day-to-day stresses of managing tests, extracurricular activities, and preparing applications for colleges.
The Mental Health Club launched Care Package Project delivering over 100 care packages, raising over $600 to launch wellness room for over 500 students.
The Mental Health Club has also launched “Rambles: A Mental Health Podcast” available on Spotify, Audible, and Apple Podcast.
You can get to know Mahima better by: