Kaiser article treats mental health dismissively

The time when depression produces its worst symptoms is precisely college age

By Letter to the Editor

I don’t usually write to the Maroon. I really like what you all write and how you write it. I’m writing almost a month after this article was published because I didn’t want to write anything too brash. After thinking about it for a while, I am still very sure that Emily Kaiser’s article (“Overthinking stress,” 11/3/09) is not only wrong, but dangerous. Although I don’t suffer from depression or anxiety, like many people, I have a dear friend that does. The time when depression produces its worst symptoms is precisely college age; people aged 18–25 are far more likely to take their own lives. While I agree that on occasion anxiety can be environment-induced, to claim that students should “suck it up” rather than have mental health professionals evaluate and help them to make sure that they aren’t a danger to themselves is at best incorrect, and at worst, potentially deadly.

Emily writes, “In all honesty, we’re not too stressed for our own good; if we were, we’d have much more serious problems on our hands. What we really need to do is stop talking about it, suck it up, and just do the work already. And when that’s done, move on, suck it up, and just have some fun. Four years is too long to waste doing anything else.”

I’m not sure what more “serious” problems we could have than the suicides that have affected our campus. Studies actually show that college students, even at higher level institutions where the stress is much worse, are far less likely to kill themselves than students outside our environment. This could be due to a variety of factors, obviously, but it would not surprise me at all to learn that free mental-health screenings are a large reason why students manage to handle their depression in a non-violent way.

Rather than suggest that students “suck it up,” I think Emily should allow medical health professionals to do their jobs. While we at the U of C are quite convinced of our own brilliance, I feel like the doctors and nurses at the SCRC, to be frank, just know more than a fourth-year sociology student. I would hate to have some student struggling with depression avoid a mental-health screening to avoid looking “weak.” In their attempt to “move on” and “just have some fun,” they can do serious damage to themselves. Before publishing other material like this, I hope that the Maroon would take a second look at the potential impact of their articles.

Liz Scoggin

Class of 2010