National Public Radio, the esteemed bastion of obscure trivia, even-keeled journalism, and late night classical music, ran a story both on its website the airwaves yesterday about the rise of reported mental health-related diagnoses on college campuses across the United States. On most fronts, this news would not come as a particular surprise to anybody.
Central to NPR’s piece, however, is Stanford’s very own Amanda Gelender, a senior and longtime campus activist. As referenced by the story, Gelender is one the driving forces behind STAMP, or Stanford Theater Activism Mobilization Project. Last Winter, Gelender and her troupe put on the highly publicized show, Out of Sight, Out of Mind, whereby actors performed anonymous submissions from actual Stanford students detailing their struggles with mental health issues.
While always a pleasant surprise to see the Farm, and in particular its students show up in the mainstream media, NPR’s piece only touches the surface of what is still a particularly daunting issue on campus. Even with the high level of publicity now attached to the buzzword of “wellness,” Stanford still seems to be scratching its collective head as to what should be done regarding what is clearly an environment of neurotic type A’s unwilling to address their particular demons.
The release of the Student Mental Health and Well-Being Task Force’s report last year was met with a chorus of disappointment. The report’s critics pointed to the speed at which the University released the report in context to comparable institutions, and conveyed the sentiments of the report seeming to be a mere tourniquet for the inherent issues, rather than a force to initiate a paradigm shift regarding how Stanford addresses wellness. Hell, even the ASSU Executive got into the action, launching the equally critiqued Wellness Room as a chance to give students a positive space by which to help encourage “wellness.”
Needless to say, great strides in combating the campus culture of mental unhealthiness have not been forthcoming, and in an era of even greater economic constriction, there becomes a premium on developing new strategies by which to help make crazed Stanford students…well, less crazed. Though when talking about her own issues, Amanda puts it best in the NPR piece:
“I used to hide all these things,” Gelender says. “But I don’t want to do that anymore. It’s a big part of my life, and I’m trying to be more upfront about it.”
Stanford, its time to be upfront about our issues.