Dear Sue Thomas, current Interim President of Truman State University,
Your mindset is the one that needs to change. Not mine. You suggested in a recent issue of The Index that students with mental health problems need to develop more "psychological grit". Well, that is nowhere near as easy as you seem to be implying. I have been mentally ill since I was 15 years old, and I don't "let" things throw me off course. If I start having problems, it's because of the actual mental illnesses I have, not because I am simply not "resilient" enough. If you really knew mentally ill people, especially mentally ill college students, you would know that they are already some of the most resilient people. Sometimes just surviving is miraculous in itself. And even beyond that, there are so many mentally ill students who go above and beyond academically, despite the problems that make it hard for them. They have plenty of "grit" — I doubt they would respond well if you told them that they need more of it.
Yes, it's true that my grades don't define me. But if my anxiety is particularly bad, I can't just magically see that. If my friend's depression is bad, I know she can't just change her mind and stop thinking negatively. Dr. Thomas, as you started your career as an assistant professor of psychology, it's shocking to hear that you think mentally ill people need "programming" more than University support and resources. We are people, not computers. When it comes down to it, no amount of mentoring or pep talks is going to directly help Truman's mental health problem, or destigmatize the issues involved (as you were asked about).
Finally, Dr. Thomas, as the Interim President, it concerns me that you claim "one person cannot know" what happens in the University. That's... kind of your job. Of course, you don't have to know every single thing that happens around here, but the mental health of your students? I think that might just be a Presidential concern, not to mention a concern fit for someone who has a PhD in Psychology. I hope you really meant what you said in the last part of your response, because students will ask for help.
And whether or not they get it is all up to you, Dr. Thomas. For better or worse.