Smashing the Stigma

Smashing the Stigma

A few weeks ago, in a display of immense courage and vulnerability, a senior stepped forward at an all-school assembly to share her history with depression and discuss the stigma surrounding mental health on campus and in our community. As we raised the flashlights on our phones to symbolize our support for a shift in how mental health is perceived on campus, it became clear how willing the student body is to continue these important discussions.

The senior’s actions showed us the power of opening up, but we hope this spirit of empathy and compassion will not stop with her.

Our school has gained a reputation for being a pressure-cooker and fiercely competitive environment. This culture is often not conducive to showing vulnerability or letting our guards down, which makes asking for help all the more difficult.

A Chronicle poll of 317 students revealed that 111 people have self-reported having thoughts of suicide and 182 students have experienced self-reported depression. However, only 92 of these students have ever reached out to a friend or community member about these thoughts.

This school year, we have used this editorial space to emphasize the importance of listening to others and remaining open to all voices. We hope this recognition of mental health issues can continue into our personal lives, giving us the strength to reach out to those around us or the empathy to care for our friends.

It must be recognized that the administration and student-led organizations on campus work hard to provide students with the resources and support that they need to pursue a healthy and safe learning experience without sacrificing performance. This school can and will continue to push students to achieve excellence, but without the appropriate support, this can sometimes be stifling or overwhelming.

Luckily, we have access to world-class mental health resources: two school psychologists, a learning specialist, Peer Support and student-run clubs, including The Bring Change to Mind club.

We understand how difficult and scary it can be to open up and share personal feelings with other people, especially in a fast-paced environment, but the payoff can be immeasurable. In a community united by compassion, love and openness, we all can strive further and be better, bolstered by the support of our peers. In an environment like ours, taking care of our friends and looking out for their well-being is necessary. We should do it more often.

Our most recent all-school assembly speaker, Scott Mescudi, commonly known as Kid Cudi, spoke to the community about breaking the stigma surrounding mental health in the black community. In 2016, Mescudi announced on Facebook that he was checking himself into rehab for depression and suicidal urges.

“I deserve to be happy and smiling,” Mescudi said. “Why not me? I guess I give so much of myself to others I forgot that I need to show myself some love too.”

It takes an enormous amount of courage and strength to be open in such a public way. While Mescudi and the senior chose to reveal their personal journeys to a large audience, it is just as brave and important to open up to a single friend or mentor.

We all should strive to follow Mescudi’s and the senior’s example. We all deserve to be happy and smiling and should get the support we need to ensure it. Peace is something that starts with us.

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