Mental health: A problem in need of recognition

A senior Washington and Lee student pleads with other students to be honest about mental health

Anna Daccache

Washington and Lee, like many other campuses, offers various resources to help students cope with mental health issues. From the Counseling Center and Peer Counselor pro- gram to Safe Space and Residential Advisors, students have different options they can choose from if they feel the need.

However, there are issues on our campus that need to be ad- dressed. While there are the logistical issues that come with the Counseling Center being over-scheduled and Peer Counselors being overwhelmed, these are administrative problems that can be fixed. In actuality, the issue that plagues the student body when it comes to mental health is one of silence.

Washington and Lee is a campus full of high-achieving students who excel in multiple facets of life. The university doesn’t lack the resources; our student body lacks the openness to address the problem head on. So many students pretend to be “fine,” and that just perpetuates the cycle of silence.

All other students seem like they have it together, so we feel isolated in our struggles and do not speak up. But this phenomenon is a facade. We all are grappling with something, be it anxiety, depression, stress, substance abuse or trauma. Where we have failed is in talking about it. Washington and Lee is not a place where owning your struggle is accepted — it practically never happens.

We have failed each other.

As members of this community, we have a duty to push the culture forward. Open conversation about mental health, an acceptance that struggle is normal and a culture shift are necessary for our campus to take steps in the right direction when it comes to mental health.

Discussion is crucial in making this campus a place in which everyone feels safe and comfortable in being vulnerable, in being themselves. Normalizing this will only make our campus a more open, inclusive and healthier environment for all students. The onus is on us, on an individual and organizational level, to be proactive in working today for a better tomorrow.