the sick and the dead

February 6, 2015

I just filled in a Tumblr Googledocs survey about mental illness and the university experience. Here’s the answer I gave to a question about things universities and professors might do to help support students who are undergoing A Fun Experience of Mental Funhood while they attempt to Gain An Education.

“For universities in general, I think educating academic staff and lecturers about the challenges that students with mental illness face is incredibly important- people don’t always understand the cognitive aspects of depression, for instance!- as well as providing really good, up-to-date support services for students who need help.

The best way for professors to help is by being very, very patient and gracious, and also offering as much support as possible- directing someone to counselling and other such student support is of great benefit. Dealing with mental illness is a full time job in itself, and it really helps if your lecturer knows and understand this, and communicates that. The grad school I’m currently attending is incredible; they’ve been incredibly kind about everything, and incredibly gracious, and very supportive.

Also, I think it helps a hell of a lot to be offered reassurance from your academic authorities that it’s okay, that they know you’re doing the best you can and they have faith in your abilities. Most of the time, I’m already beating myself up for not performing the way I know I should; I don’t need more reminders that I’m failing at functioning. I feel so guilty about my inability to function that I’m often terrified of talking to my lecturers or my dean, even though I know they’re incredibly understanding and they’ve been kind before. I already live with their perceived disappointment in my head; it’s nice to be reassured occasionally that those are just my own perceptions, and that my lecturers actually have a lot of faith in my abilities, even when I don’t.”

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