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Old Gold & Black

'Covers the campus like the magnolias'
"Covers the campus like the magnolias"

Old Gold & Black

"Covers the campus like the magnolias"

Old Gold & Black

The mental health crisis must be taken seriously by the University

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One of the biggest challenges of being a college student is balancing career pursuits, homework and social life whilst simultaneously prioritizing mental health and personal well-being. At a school like Wake Forest, whose notoriously rigorous academic environment has earned it the moniker of “Work Forest,” resources dedicated toward helping students maintain good mental health are imperative for student success.

Last week, Student Government hosted Mental Health Week, which included events such as a Morning Meditation session, wellness lectures and signage around campus. Flags were placed on Tribble Courtyard representing percentages of the population suffering from specific mental illnesses, while other signs were seen around campus promoting counseling resources

Raising awareness is undoubtedly important to battling the ongoing mental health crisis in the United States and across the world. While events such as Mental Health Week are certainly a step in the right direction, we need more action instead of more signage. 

Mental illnesses are unique in terms of their visibility — they are not noticeable physical ailments. The oftentimes invisible and stigmatized nature of mental illnesses prevents them from being treated as equally legitimate as physical illnesses or epidemics. 

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Unfortunately, seeing is believing. When a classmate or coworker comes to class with a fever, mucus and a cough, no one questions whether or not they’re really ill. When it comes to serious mental health struggles, by the time we “see it,” it’s often too late to take action to help the individual. 

When students returned to campus in the fall of 2020, the University put strict restrictions on group gatherings. With the COVID-19 pandemic still in full swing, social distancing, requiring masks and other measures were enforced to ensure the pandemic was being handled as effectively as possible. 

Wake Forest must treat the ongoing mental health crisis with the recognition that it is a public health crisis, much like the COVID-19 pandemic. 

As a community, we need to support our students, faculty and staff by providing greater access to mental health resources. We need to shift the “Work Forest” stigma into a healthy pursuit of success, not an impossible chase for perfection. 

As exemplified by its response to the pandemic, Wake Forest can come together as a community when members need support and empathy. We have collaborated to find solutions to difficult circumstances when we are faced with them. Thus, we have the capability to begin to appropriately approach the mental health crisis.

It’s up to us to decide that we actually care.

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