In an incredibly powerful Guest Column, ‘Enough with Awareness Week, We Need Policy Change,’ many areas that need reform and change are cited. We strongly agree with the sentiment that the University needs to treat mental health care needs with the same urgency that they do physical health. Given our involvement in the mental health community at Cornell, we would be remiss to say that we believe awareness is at an acceptable level. Awareness is the basis of any policy change. Without popular support and demand for improved services and changes in policies related to mental health, little or likely no progress will be made.
People are afraid of us. The reigning belief of the mentally ill is that we are unhinged, unpredictable, unable to be. At Cornell, and most colleges, this belief is a bit less so. You can’t fear what you know, so our Mental Health Awareness Week is set to do just that, make people conscious that hey, the mentally ill exist, your mental health is a real thing, and that caring for yourself and others is good. But it is not enough.
“Instead of going in for an extra workout early in the morning, I made sure that I slept nine hours a night,” he said. “And before long, homework that used to take me an hour, soon took me 20 minutes.”
I’m tired. Tired of crying, tired of thinking, tired of being. Everything hurts but I don’t understand what exactly because it also all feels empty. And there are no more tears to cry because it’s all empty now. And that’s ok because it’s quiet.
Being happy isn’t something that others can do for you; it’s something that you need to find for yourself. Sometimes, or maybe too often, happiness is a battle. People have always described me as a bubbly and positive person. I excel at helping others and trying to put a smile on their faces to brighten their days. I’m that person that smiles at strangers on the street.
No matter how hard I try, I’ll never be able to explain to you the intricacy of a razor. I don’t really want to, either. I figured out myself one night how to take it apart, how to free the blades, and it’s my secret. Its marks on my skin are also my secrets: the deep, linear slices from days I was just angry, a little lopsided from days I couldn’t stop shaking. Those were the beginning days, though.
A few weeks ago, I along with nine other Cornellians had the opportunity to travel to the University of Pennsylvania for the first annual Unmasking the Ivy League: A Conference on Mental Health. Through the event we had the chance to learn and collaborate with our Ivy peers and see how we can improve the way that we look at mental health on our own campus. One of the biggest takeaways from the conference for me was understanding the scale of this issue on college campuses. With the success of Mental Health Awareness week last semester and a number of events that groups like Minds Matter host regularly to create a campus dialogue on the issue amongst diverse communities, we are moving towards a healthier campus. That being said, our current system of mental health care is not without its flaws. An issue that the Cornell delegation brought to the table was the conversation on leaves of absence.
Editor’s Note: This story is being published anonymously for the safety and protection of the author and those involved.
I didn’t plan to spend finals week in the mental ward of Cayuga Medical Center. Was it traumatic? That would be an understatement. Was it worth it? Yes.