But in the month since Williams’ column, it was another act of courage — one that is easily lost in her piece — that has stuck with me: her willingness to admit to herself that she was not, in fact, OK.
That small act might seem trivial. But it’s not, especially at Yale. In a campus filled to the brim with academic overachievement, social pressures and far too few sunny days, our mental health is inevitably tested.
We aren’t doing ourselves any favors by contributing to this environment, even if we’re doing so passively. By accepting this paradigm — where extracurricular activities can consume more hours per week than a full-time job, the society tap process neglects to consider juniors’ wellbeing and the race for internships begins almost as soon as the school year does — most of us, in one way or another, play an indirect role in perpetuating the unhealthy atmosphere at Yale. We all feel pressure to be “OK.”
I’m guilty of this, too. When my little brother passed away this summer, amidst all the shock and grief and heartache, my mom asked whether I was sure I wanted to come back to New Haven right away. Of course I did, I thought, I’m OK enough to head back to school.
Before leaving home, I set up an appointment at Yale Mental Health & Counseling. For what it’s worth, my experience with Yale Health was excellent — after an initial evaluation, I was able to schedule a consistent appointment with an understanding clinician. While the institution has been subject to an overwhelming amount of criticism, the system worked perfectly well for me: I received the treatment I needed in a timely manner.
Yet after a month of weekly appointments at 55 Lock St., I didn’t think I needed to speak to a psychiatrist anymore. To see somebody for mental health reasons felt unnecessary and shameful, particularly at Yale.
What made up my mind was a conversation with a close friend. When we came to the subject of Yale Mental Health & Counseling — divorced from my experiences — he suggested that people who went to a psychiatrist were either exaggerating their issues or weren’t strong enough to handle University life.
I agreed. Seeing somebody at Yale Health was a sign of weakness — and really, I was OK. I missed my next appointment and didn’t respond to the repeated calls from my psychiatrist or the personalized letter he sent to my mailbox.