In the spring of my freshman year, I watched one of my best friends struggle with depression.
Usually outgoing, she became confined to her bed more and more. Her infectious laugh ceased to ring throughout our dorm floor. Her papers, usually brilliant works of art, became jumbled and rushed or sometimes not done at all. The things that used to make her happy lost their effect, and she seemed to shrink more into herself with every passing day.
I watched as my friend called Goddard multiple times and was told that there were no available appointments, sorry. I watched as she was told that, by the way, her doctor’s note from out of state was no good and that she would have to be retested for everything, sorry. I watched as professors just could not make exceptions for late work or missed exams, sorry. I watched as she lost the scholarship that allowed her to come to OU because there was no proof that her mental illness was what caused her GPA to drop, sorry. And I, sorry but helpless, watched her leave the school she loved because she had no other option.
I joined OUr Mental Health in the fall of my sophomore year because sorry is not good enough for students on our campus struggling with mental illness. I understand that Goddard is doing incredible work, and that professors have to uphold high academic standards, and that financial aid officers have their hands tied in regard to scholarship guidelines. Assigning blame isn’t the answer, especially since the fault isn’t with the administration or Goddard or professors or financial aid or any other single entity on campus. However, I also understand that for any of us on this campus to sit back and pretend that the issue does not exist is to fail students like my friend every single day.
OUr Mental Health was born out of the idea that we, as fellow students, can help fill the gaps. We, as fellow students, can break the stigma surrounding mental health, the stigma that tells us that a stomach bug is more serious than a mental illness. We, as fellow students, can connect students to resources and professionals that will provide the help they need to excel. We, as fellow students, can make sure that no one on our campus ever feels helpless or forgotten or worthless or unloved or alone.”
administration to add a mental health curriculum to Camp Crimson (and provide printed resources to students who can’t go to camp). We want to observe a mental health awareness week on campus designed to tear down the stigma – we’ll hear from speakers and hold events that will let everyone get involved. We want to host open mic nights and poetry slams to give everyone a voice on the topic.
We can’t do this alone, though. Your experiences, or the experiences of your friend or roommate or mom or baby brother or anyone else you know who struggles with a mental illness, provide you with a unique perspective to add to ours. We’re trying to make this campus work for people like my friend, and we would love to have you join us.