Alumni Lives

Text Me, Beep Me . . . When You Need a Friend

Real-time mental health coaching for teens.

Stanford Magazine
Stanford Magazine
Published in
2 min readSep 11, 2018


By Diana Aguilera

Photo: 4.0 Schools

When Ashley Edwards and Alina Liao, both MA ’16, MBA ’16, met in Stanford’s joint MBA/master’s in education program, each was searching for ways to address the critical need for mental health support in schools, especially in low-income neighborhoods. Inspired by the personal stories of loved ones, the two cofounded MindRight, a tech nonprofit that empowers youth of color to heal from trauma caused by violence, poverty and discrimination.

MindRight meets teens where they already are — on their phones — by providing real-time mental health coaching via text message. Once a teen opts in by texting “hello,” a group of coaches will then check in with the individual on a daily basis. The proactive platform helps youth develop positive coping strategies so they can better manage stress.

The nonprofit primarily works with school districts, community-based organizations and government agencies in Washington, D.C., and Newark, N.J., where it has reached about 400 students. Edwards says they hope to quadruple their reach in the next two years. The service also provides schools with data on student emotional wellness.

“We’re actually able to get aggregate information on what topics are trending [and] what percentage of kids are feeling happy versus hopeless,” Edwards says. “We really believe that our data is going to be a game changer.” •

Diana Aguilera is a staff writer at STANFORD.