Healthy Body Image Suite

Over the years we have developed a “suite“ of online programs to prevent eating disorders, improve body image, and to promote healthy weight maintenance implemented in various settings ranging from middle schools, high schools, colleges and universities, YMCAs, and community centers. A Chinese version of StayingFit for middle school students is now being evaluated in Hong Kong and Shanghai. A number of these programs are being evaluated as part of iCare, a large, long-term, multinational study funded by the European Commons to examine the effectiveness of internet based affordable, accessible, evidence-based care for a number of mental health problems.



Students completing the StayingFit China program.

Students completing the StayingFit China program.

The StayingFit program was originally designed as a health maintenance program for young adults. Now, this program has been adapted for multiple projects for various populations, and it is currently being disseminated at three sites:

  • Stanford University - under direction of Dr. Barr Taylor, a Massive, Open, Online Course (MOOC) version of StayingFit is currently under development. This program will be available to the public at no cost through Stanford's free online courses.

  • Deakin University - Dr. Joanne Williams recently received a $1.2 million dollar grant to redesign and optimize the StayingFit-Weight Loss program offered in Australia.

  • Hong Kong Polytechnic University - Dr. Pauline Sung is working to disseminate a Chinese version of the program in Hong Kong and Shanghai.

This program was also offered through San Francisco YMCA chapters for over three years under the direction of Dr. Katie Taylor Lynch. Our first effort was to provide a class in StayingFit at the BayView Hunter’s Point YMCA’s Center for Academic Re-entry and Empowerment (CARE).  Doctoral students led the sessions with students who were learning skills to help them re-enter and succeed in school. We then expanded the program to five more YMCAs with different student populations. In 2016, the Buchanan YMCA distributed the StayingFit program through the Mayors’ Youth Employment and Education Program (MYEEP).


Student bodies classic

Our team has partnered with the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) to offer this evidence-based program for those who are at risk of developing an eating disorder or have poor body esteem. The program is currently under renovations, so stay tuned!


Student bodies - eating disorders (SBED)

This program was designed as a prevention and intervention tool for college students at very high risk of eating disorders or displayed clinical symptoms. The SBED program is currently being studied at 28 college campuses nationwide to determine its efficacy. Several thousand college students have taken part in the study over the past four years, and the study is due to finish in 2018.

Project Mana Maali  

Under the direction of Nitya Kanuri, we are now in our second year of project Mana Maali which provides affordable, accessible, evidence-based coaching for anxiety disorders to students at 4 universities in India.

Our plan is to submit grants through Indian institutions to help support this with some support to PAU.  Our dream is to have project champions in India, platform development through Bits-Pilani, and an active collaboration among the mHealth Institute,  VA PTSD Training/Dissemination/App development, Penn State.

We started this project ~2 years ago to address a need -- many students in universities in India (and most places) are either not getting or not accessing mental healthcare services. In some places, sufficient mental health care resources are not available (e.g., not enough counselors on campus). In most all places, stigma around mental health often prevents many from seeking help when it is available. We've proposed using an online survey to identify those with high levels of anxiety and connect them to a private, online program (supported by our amazing technology partner Lantern) and an online Indian counselor with whom they could connect via messaging or phone to learn new techniques to manage anxiety and get support in practicing them. 

In doing this work over the last 3 semesters with our partner university BITS Pilani, we've learned that in addition to providing students with more (and private) ways to ask for help, an important component of addressing mental health is also attempting to reduce the stigma around it (and, in turn, increase help-seeking).

To do this, we've partnered with White Swan Foundation, an NGO based out of the National Institute for Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS) in Bangalore. White Swan Foundation has created a "knowledge repository" - translated into several languages - to address mental health stigma from the angle of awareness, education, and knowledge for the person in need of support, the caregiver, and the general community. They have been graciously supporting us for the last year with educational content to provide to students. 


eCourage Global Trauma Connection reduces suffering and promotes resilience by disseminating and evaluating state-of-the-art, technology-based tools for survivors of disaster, war, violence, sexual abuse, and other trauma.  We advance technology and provide training to strengthen trauma survivor self-care and increase helper effectiveness to support individuals and communities affected by traumas around the world, especially those with limited access to mental health services. We will provide the best in prevention and treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and related problems to trauma survivors and their families, globally, through the development, evaluation, and dissemination of state-of-the-art technology-based intervention tools.

Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy Research

We are currently in the process of recruiting participants from the community for a research study that utilizes virtual reality for social anxiety treatment. We are partnering with Limbix, a technology company that uses virtual reality to improve access and quality of healthcare. Participants will have the opportunity to work through their social anxiety when going through the interview process or when making small talk at a networking event or dinner party. The study will take place at the eClinic at PAU. Participants will be compensated up to $40. We invite anyone 18 years or older who is interested in the study to email us at m2health@paloaltou.edu to determine if this study would be a good fit for you.