Mental Health On College Campuses

Universities Are Ignoring Mental Health And It's Literally Killing Students

We need to talk.

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The fall semester has officially started this past week, and with it, a whirlpool of emotions ranging from excitement to anxiety has exploded upon the Seawolf community. Now that we're all here, it seems to be a perfect time to discuss the issue of mental health at Stony Brook University, and how we as a campus can address the dearth of knowledge and resources available to college students across the country.

A recent New York Times article highlighted the prevalence of cases against various institutions (most notably Stanford, Princeton, and George Washington University, among other names), where the only known course of action offered by the mental health support staff on campuses was to take a leave of absence from the university, ultimately delaying a student's potential graduation and adding to their already-mounting anxiety for their future.

In today's day and age, it seems that campuses are reluctant to tackle the issues revolving around the mental health of their students head-on, and this lack of direct action has lead to dire consequences for the students involved, all for the sake of avoiding bad publicity and the potential for lawsuits that come with it.

It would appear that universities around the United States have forgotten their promise to provide a welcoming and accepting environment for the students that they choose to admit into their institutions—they deceive us with promises of providing aid to whoever needs it and then don't make good on that promise when students actually decide to reach out for help in regards to whatever crippling mental health issue is plaguing their sense of belonging.

The purpose of having psychological support such as CAPS on campus is to help those students who need a hand in fighting off the demons in their mind, however, those demons may appear in nature.

This is an especially important issue when midterms start rolling around (in about three to four weeks), as we'll all be too busy suffocating under the pressure of maintaining our GPAs and performing as best as we can on our exams to notice the potential for increasing rates of depression and suicidal thoughts in our community.

The pressure at Stony Brook can be unremitting throughout the fall semester with each and every one of us drowning in a rigorous schedule of coursework, devotion to a social life, and a never-ending hunt for internships and jobs to improve our resumes, but we have to try and spare a thought for those among us who feel that they are unwelcome here because of how they feel. We have to help those of us who suffer from the debilitating side effects of mental health degradation caused by the pressures of Stony Brook, because one day that might be one of us who needs help.

I realize that we all have our own problems, but we as Seawolves took an oath to take care of each other when we entered Lavalle Stadium for our freshman orientation (in my case, four years ago.) We have to do better with each other as students—if our administration can't divert resources towards combating the mental health epidemic sweeping across the country, including Stony Brook University, then we as Seawolves have to do our best to take care of each other when some of us feel that our whole world is crumbling around us. None of our accomplishments are worth anything if we fail to help those who need it most.

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To The Nursing Major During The Hardest Week Of The Year

I know that no grade can possibly prove what kind of nurse you will be. I know that no assignment will showcase your compassion. I know that no amount of bad days will ever take away the empathy inside of you that makes you an exceptional nurse.

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To the Nursing Major During Finals Week,

I know you're tired, I know you're stressed, and I know you feel like you can't go on. I know that no part of this seems fair, and I know you are by far the biggest critic of yourself. I know that you've thought about giving up. I know that you feel alone. I know that you wonder why in the world you chose one of the hardest college majors, especially on the days it leaves you feeling empty and broken.

But, I also know that you love nursing school. I know your eyes light up when you're with patients, and I know your heart races when you think of graduation. I know that you love the people that you're in school with, like truly, we're-all-in-this-together, family type of love. I know that you look at the older nurses with admiration, just hoping and praying that you will remain that calm and composed one day. I know that every time someone asks what your college major is that you beam with pride as you tell them it's nursing, and I know that your heart skips a beat knowing that you are making a difference.

I know that no grade can possibly prove what kind of nurse you will be. I know that no assignment will showcase your compassion. I know that a failed class doesn't mean you aren't meant to do this. I know that a 'C' on a test that you studied so. dang. hard. for does not mean that you are not intelligent. I know that no amount of bad days will ever take away the empathy inside of you that makes you an exceptional nurse.

I know that nursing school isn't fair. I know you wish it was easier. I know that some days you can't remember why it's worth it. I know you want to go out and have fun. I know that staying up until 1:00 A.M. doing paperwork, only to have to be up and at clinicals before the sun rises is not fair. I know that studying this much only to be failing the class is hard. I know you wish your friends and family understood. I know that this is difficult.

Nursing school isn't glamorous, with the white lab coat and stethoscope. Nursing school is crying, randomly and a lot. Nursing school is exhaustion. Nursing school is drinking so much coffee that you lose track. Nursing school is being so stressed that you can't eat. Nursing school is four cumulative finals jam-packed into one week that is enough to make you go insane.

But, nursing school is worth it. I know that when these assignments are turned in and finals are over, that you will find the motivation to keep going. I know that one good day of making a difference in a patient's life is worth a hundred bad days of nursing school.

Keep hanging in there, nursing majors. It'll all be worth it— this I know, for sure.

So, if you have a nursing major in your life, hug them and tell them that you're proud of them. Nursing school is tough, nursing school is scary, and nursing school is overwhelming; but a simple 'thank-you' from someone we love is all we need to keep going.

Sincerely,

A third-year nursing student who knows

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Why Fordham Should Have a Safe Space Policy

On a campus committed to it's student's safety, why is emotional safety left out?

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Last year college Republicans were asked to leave Rodrigue's coffee house for provoking members by wearing pro-Trump attire within the shop. The reason they were asked to leave was because Rodrigue's upholds a "safe space" policy, which can be boiled down to the simple phrase: "No racism. No sexism. No homophobia." In the eyes of the members and patrons of Rod's, Trump embodied all of these things. Regardless of the politics of this specific incident, the phrase and policy seems redundant because this rhetoric can't possibly be allowed anywhere else on campus. Right?

As this incident made campus as well as national news Father McShane addressed the events in an e-mail to all students in which he made it clear he did not condone the approach of the College Republicans, as well as stated that Fordham has no official Safe Space policy and insinuated if it did this would silence voices on campus.

Let's examine what a safe space policy means and why it's important to so many members of the Fordham community. It simply means homophobic, sexist, and racist imagery and speech are not allowed. On a campus with racial minority, female, and queer students who chose to be members of the Fordham community as well as study here, live here, and pay obscene amounts of money to be a student, it does not make sense for these individuals to be subjected to abuses related to their identity. How can you focus in class when your professor misgenders you, a student makes a disparaging comment about your religion, or you fear for your physical safety due to the way you present yourself? Bigoted rhetoric is oppositional to academia.

Fordham is a private university, not a public one, and could easily legislate a basic safe space guideline on campus. I understand many of us that a safe space policy would protect do not experience outward aggression often, if at all, as the University does take steps to ensure our safety. So why no official policy? The answer is simple to me: money. Fordham receives hefty donations from conservative alumni whose own political ideology is contrary to the safe space policy. The choice to not outwardly support minority students is a decidedly economic and political one, despite Father McShane's plea for political peace on campus.

And what is wrong with silencing hateful voices? Tolerance is an incredibly important value, but should tolerance really extend to the intolerant? I found the logic behind not installing the policy as it would politically oppress individuals, incredibly interesting and telling. This means your politics are fatally bigoted and I would take a critical look at that. It's intrinsic to our perception of our school to remember that colleges are businesses and it is sometimes their prerogative to meet economic needs above the needs of their student body. However, this is hopeful. As patrons of this business, we can demand more of them and the most effective way to do this is economical. Invest money in places such as Rodrigue's to expand their voice, have your parents write letters to the school, tell at-risk individuals to not apply, and encourage alumni to earmark their money for minority student initiatives or withhold it unless the school legislates a safe space policy.

We as a student body should care for one another and above all respect the personhood of everyone on and off campus. Consider honoring the policy in your own lives and social circles, and demand Fordham to officially do the same.

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