Two months after the implementation of these reforms, CAPS reported a decrease from 37 days to 15 days in students’ average wait time of scheduling appointments. It has also seen increases in both the number of unique clients and the number of student visitors it has had in 2019 by 23% and 34%, respectively, compared to the numbers from 2018.
Amidst calls for greater mental health protections, Building Ourselves through Sisterhood and Service hosted a summit this weekend, inviting guest speaker Elyse Fox founder of Sad Girls Club to tackle mental health issues in the event’s keynote address on Saturday.
“I don’t think there are other opportunities on campus who focus on women of color with mental needs,” Amber Haywood ’21, chair of the Mental Health Committee, told The Sun. “This platform which allows women of color to be vulnerable with each other is really special.”
Warning: The following content contains sensitive material about mental health, depression, anxiety and suicide. I’ll come right out and say it — I go to therapy here at Cornell, and I’ve gone to some form of therapy for years before. I’m not ashamed of that, and you shouldn’t be either when saying the same. Unless you live under a rock, you know that Cornell’s administration has been hard at work to enact new policies for mental health services on campus to improve the mental health of its students. But what has surprised me is the relative silence I actually hear between students about it.
Warning: The following content contains sensitive material about mental health, depression and suicide. Two days before last year’s Mental Health Awareness Week, I found out one of my best friends from middle school died by suicide. He was like me in every sense. We did middle school debate together and agreed that we peaked then, grew up in a predominantly Asian community filled with academic competition and parental stressors, attended an Ivy League institution (he went to Columbia) and started out as pre-meds (he later switched to finance while somehow I still cling to that track). After I found out about his death, I cried for two hours and then channeled all of my energy into repressing the news to execute the best MHAW I could muster.
A four-day mid-semester pause from classes would seem to offer ample time for students to recharge and focus on well-being and sleep. Nor is this an accident, as The Faculty Handbook Project makes clear: “Short breaks from academic requirements are intentionally included in the academic calendar to provide rest, respite and a break from schoolwork.” Cornell Health further emphasizes the need for rest, especially sleep, with an entire page dedicated to sleep-related health. It recommends students take 7-9 hours every night to get sleep — which, in its words, “is a necessity, not a luxury.”
But is that consistent with the messages our instructors are sending us? Take, for example, the all-too-common practice of professors assigning work during breaktime. When students get work over break, the obvious implication is that the assigned work should trump any need for a proper break.
Yesterday, The Sun published a column by Kristi Lim ’21 entitled, “Why I’m Choosing Not to Seek Professional Mental Health Care,” in which the author discusses not only her own personal experiences with mental health, but also claims that “it is easy to use [professional help] to substitute the difficult work of directly resolving an issue.” While personal approaches to mental health can vary based on individual needs, this piece promotes a dangerous attitude towards mental health care and further stigmatizes those who experience mental health challenges. While The Sun already failed to provide a list of resources with the article, the publication of this article also served to compound the stigma already associated with seeking help. Though there are a variety of methods that one may use to support one’s own mental health and many cultural approaches to mental health, we push back on the idea that looking for help, whether through professional counseling or through close friends or family, is equivalent to admitting that there is something wrong with you or that you are unable to manage your life. The truth is that mental health is a team effort, and it should be framed as such. A plethora of medical and psychological research backs the effectiveness of professional mental health support.
Last Friday, I finally sucked it up and watched Joker with another friend. Joker, styled in bold, strained yellow as the film’s title card, is exactly the kind of film it has been marketed as so far. Replete with jagged violence, moody lighting and an inimitable Joaquin Phoenix performance, the movie thrives on concocting shock and rage to drag out a visceral reaction from its audience. “Holy Shit,” someone muttered next to me, in what I turned out to only be the movie’s fourth or fifth most disturbing moment. It was just that kind of film.