I’ve had a lot of experience with mental illness; I have depression and anxiety, and I have been in an intensive outpatient program. I think it’s very important to have timely access to mental health professionals because in my experience, I didn’t want to get help until I was already in crisis. In our society, mental health is very stigmatized: people often won’t seek help until they are near their breaking point, and to reach out and then have to wait 2-3 months to see a therapist when you’re already at that low point is terrifying. If I had to wait for months after I finally asked for help, I don’t know if I would have been able to handle it.
This is especially true with COVID-19 pandemic. I think Covid-19 further reveals the inequities in our society and on Yale’s campus because it’s adversely affecting low-income communities and people of color more than anyone else. I see rich Yalies going on vacations and partying with their friends, and then there are people I know whose parents have lost jobs or are put at risk everyday as essential workers. Now, more Yale students are going to have to work jobs to pay for tuition, the SIC, and textbooks, and the current scarcity of jobs will only further exacerbate whatever inequalities already existed. Low-income students at Yale are going to have to work and potentially expose themselves to COVID-19 in order to pay off their SIC, and that’s a terrifying thought. People are losing jobs and loved ones, and we’ve been isolated from our friends and family. Even though I am privileged (my father still has his job, and we haven’t really been affected financially by the crisis), I worry a lot about my friends who don’t have jobs. I know several people who have died or have gotten very sick, including my best friend from home and my uncle.
Additionally, more people will struggle to balance a job and classwork during the school year, since summer jobs have been hard to come by. I think it’s crucial that everyone has fast access to mental health care. If you have a cold and you go to Yale Health, you’ll be seen that day or the next— it’s pretty quick. But with mental health you have to wait so much longer, and it doesn’t make any sense to me. Some people with money on campus will even go to private therapists because they don’t want to or can’t wait that long to see a therapist at Yale Mental Health; however, low-income students who cannot afford that are forced to wait, and it’s an unfair standard. Everyone should have prompt access to mental health care, particularly because mental health is very timely — if you need help, you need help then. Having to wait 2 months if you’re struggling is absolutely ridiculous and having to wait that long could have tragic consequences.
Catherine Lenihan, She/Her/Hers. 2022, Davenport.