Saturday, July 25, 2009
As a student with a long-standing history of mental health problems, I have a few things to say:
1) Even before Virgina Tech, students with mental health issues have been stigmatized. School officials look at us like we have "Future Lawsuit" branded on our foreheads. This is why many students who are suicidal, potentially suicidal, or severely anorexic end up being kicked out of school. The school doesn't want to deal with the liability that may occur should a student, y'know, do something stupid on campus.
This is why I:
a) Keep my mental health treatment separate from my school life. (Subset to a -- I am actually not able to receive treatment through my current university because my past psychiatric history makes me a liability to the counseling services, so...) I am not registered with counseling/psych services, nor have I filed anything with disability. I encourage students in my position to do the same. This is because:
b) You can not entirely be sure that was is said in treatment stays in treatment. Even worse, having an on-campus therapist or psychiatrist increases your odds that you will be forced into a "contract" (ie. if you do this, that will happen) that is not based on your psychological needs but to keep the school out of a potential lawsuit. For example, I have several friends who were forced to take a medical leave of abscence from school to attend outpatient treatment once or twice a week. In the real world, this could be accomplished whilst also attending class but, again, the university is scared that they might be at the receiving end of a lawsuit.
c) Do not live on campus.
On a personal level, I understand why some professors might become concerned about my well being. I have no problem explaining that I have a long history of treatment outside of school and am currently seeing a therapist/psych/whatever. Beyond that, it's my business.
I realize that a lot of professors, etc., believe that mental illness and university are not compatible.
And that's all I have to say.