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Diana Chao

Diana Chao

At 13 years old, Diana Chao was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and uveitis, an eye disorder that triggered blindness. She consequently grappled with her medical diagnoses, but as a low-income first-generation Chinese immigrant, there were few mental health resources available to her. After surviving a series of suicide attempts, she turned to writing – and in so doing, discovered her own voice. As a sophomore in high school, Diana founded Letters to Strangers, a non-profit seeking to destigmatize mental illness and increase access to affordable, quality treatment through therapy-informed anonymous letter exchanges and other pathways. As suicide rates among young people skyrocket (by 60%), L2S establishes a youth-for-youth voice, normalizing empathy through stories and advocating for broader societal change. To date, the program has touched 35,000+ people across six continents via a team formed entirely of middle school to college-aged youth. L2S additionally facilitates mental health workshops to 2,000 students every year, educating thousands more online. In recent months, L2S launched a guidebook which has been purchased by schools around the world as potential curriculum material. By channeling her own tragedy into a conduit for strength, Diana touched thousands of young lives and generated real change, showing the world that all lives are valuable and worthwhile.

Each and every one of us deserves a chance to live and live right—being a L’Oréal Paris Women of Worth is testament to that. Our stories have power; within them reside infinite worth. Let’s promise this to ourselves and our progeny by committing to the ceaseless fight forward.
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