Categorized | Viewpoints

Prioritize conversations on mental health

The spring semester at Wooster is a rough one. We transition back from break, feel the pressure of I.S. and summer internship applications and see the sun once a month. For that reason, many of us find our mental health compromised this time of year.

I myself struggle with clinical depression and find that the spring semester exacerbates my symptoms. The best way I can describe it is that my brain is in “Low Power Mode”; I am functioning, but not at an optimal level. My dishes and laundry pile up. I have no motivation to study or complete assignments. It’s an accomplishment when I drag my ass out of bed. Wooster students are always expected to be on the go, so it’s hard not to chastise myself for being lazy. I often feel like I’m not doing enough when I’m doing the most that I can. I know that I’m not alone in this — but why doesn’t the student body discuss mental health as much as it should?

We can’t pretend that there isn’t a stigma surrounding mental health on this campus. Though many of us are open-minded and progressive, conversations about mental illness are still taboo. I have yet to feel comfortable admitting that I see a therapist, and many people avoid taking advantage of the resources that we have here for the same reason. I have even sat silently through conversations where people were called crazy for taking medication. The topics of how we care for our mental health are swept under the rug.

I don’t fault anyone for feeling like mental health should be private business; it’s what we’ve been taught our whole lives. However, it is something that I think is best undertaken as a community. Having open discussions about mental illness on campus is a form of activism. When we let people know that they are not alone, they are more willing to seek help when they need it most. We can also spark change on an institutional level by making student mental health a priority. When student advocacy bodies and the administration are aware that we care about mental illness, it creates avenues to getting more resources that our community needs, such as counselors. Therefore, it is to our advantage that we raise consciousness on these issues.

In the meantime, the best thing we can do is look out for each other. Check in on your friends and let them know that you care. Many of us who are jovial during the day wrestle with our mental illness behind closed doors. If you yourself are suffering from any symptoms, there is nothing wrong with seeking help. Give Wellness a call and make a counselor appointment, stop by a “Let’s Talk” session or take a substance-free weekend to regroup. But most importantly, be patient with yourself. You cannot and should not do everything all the time. It is okay to slow down and prioritize your well-being on the days that your brain doesn’t cooperate. We all deserve to be at peace with our minds — so let’s make it a group effort to get there.

Olivia Proe, a Viewpoints Editor for the Voice, can be reached for comment at OProe21@wooster.edu.

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