Growing up, mental health issues weren’t really talked about—we were simply taught that perseverance and diligence would get us through anything. It took me a lot of time to realize that something was up. Another two years passed before I actually built up the courage to make the call to set up my intake appointment. The appointment was about two or three weeks after I made that initial call, but I’d planned for the long wait time. I met with the chief psychologist of Yale Mental Health & Counseling, which was a stroke of luck. He assured me that I would be assigned a therapist within a week, which gave me the confidence to actually reach back out after a week of radio silence. If he hadn’t told me that, I’d probably have kept waiting it out, and my name would’ve likely gotten lost among the hundreds of files I imagine they have. The most telling part of that interaction was the receptionist’s surprise that I’d been assigned a therapist so quickly. Not hearing back from anyone after enduring the intake would have discouraged me, as I imagine it does other students, from continuing to pursue counseling.
If students are reaching out to YMHC, it’s often because they don’t feel like they have that kind of support in their social circles and desperately need it. Without that support, these issues will continue to worsen; they will continue to affect our mental and physical health, as well as our academic, social, and work life—it takes a lot out of the ability to be a Yale student. We need to have a more responsive and responsible system to communicate with students when we ask for help. Ultimately, these problems aren’t going to go away if we don’t stop thinking about mental health as an obtainable ideal of productivity. But until then, YMHC needs to be more accessible, it needs to be more diverse, and it needs to hire more therapists.
Nico Ruiz-Huidobro, He/Him, 2021, Trumbull College