As a student, I have grown accustomed to the constant discussion around mental health. I am used to seeing the posters on campus that talk about “one in five students” or the constant Facebook posts from friends encouraging anyone to reach out to them. As someone who has lost close friends and family to suicide, I can see how much of this line this messaging can be perceived as empty.
It is our responsibility as a campus community to challenge the idea that mental health is a monolith. We should push continuously for a more complex understanding of this issue in order to truly address mental health concerns. For us, this means understanding that mental health concerns can rise from increasing and unpredictable tuition, a lack of access to child care, minimal supports, and isolation.
We need to move beyond talking about ‘mental health’ only as a standalone issue and move towards addressing problems that bring about so many mental health issues. I mention many of these root issues in my platform directly. Mental health may be most effectively improved by alleviating stresses on members of the university community – not by using the phrase as a buzzword.