Expelled Yale student joins push for more mental health care

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NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) — A business student from China who said a bout with depression led to his expulsion for academic reasons has become the face of a labor-driven push for better mental health care at Yale University.

Grant Mao, who came from Shanghai to pursue an MBA, said the school refused to take into account his mental health struggles before dismissing him in April and leaving him at risk of deportation.

He spoke about his experience at a rally this week outside the Yale School of Management, and supporters delivered a petition calling for his reinstatement. The petition was circulated by the Graduate Employees and Students Organization, which includes improvements in mental health services among its key demands as it tries to organize a union for graduate teaching assistants.

Mao, 29, said in an interview that he wanted to speak out because he wants to be reinstated and does not want others to suffer the same experience.

"I was ignored," he said.

In addition to the petition, the GESO group also has submitted grievances from 15 of its members on issues related to mental health care, including wait times, session caps and medical leave policies.

A Yale spokesman, Tom Conroy, noted that doctoral candidates in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences receive comprehensive health care for free, including mental health counseling.

"Yale continually evaluates the health care services, including mental health counseling, that it provides to students, and looks for ways that it can be improved," Conroy said.

Yale has said privacy laws prevent it from discussing details of Mao's case.

Mao, who went to college in China and earned a master's degree at Pepperdine University, said he was hospitalized for six days in April after a breakup with his fiancee and the discovery that his mother had a heart attack. He said he was dismissed for missing the minimum academic performance by a half-credit, and a faculty review board refused his request to reconsider in light of his illness.

Mao said he has secured a visa for now and avoided deportation by doing coursework at the University of New Haven.

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