Being from a family of Middle Eastern refugees has always been a foundational part of my identity. But, when I sought out mental health services at the beginning of my first year and I was asked if I had any preferences, I didn’t ask to have a therapist who was also Middle Eastern or a refugee/immigrant. Having observed the mental health profession as a white and native-born dominated field, I didn’t even think that it was an option. I thought I had to settle for whatever I could get, even though having a therapist who shared a crucial part of my identity would have been incredibly helpful for me. I would have felt better understood and like I could verbalize things I had struggled with my entire life, which I instead had to learn by myself. Yale should not only make an effort to diversify its therapists, but also make it publicly known that low income students of color and LGBTQ+ students have every right to ask for them. Oftentimes, only privileged students with prior access to therapists think to be more selective with who they trust with their mental health. In the wake of COVID-19, when we return to campus (whenever that may be), more students than ever will be in need of help. Our entire world has changed. And with conversations about race being at the forefront, Yale has to aggressively think about the diversity of the people their students are coming to in their times of need.
Dereen Shirnekhi, she/her/hers, 2023, Davenport