The resurgence of the mental health issue at Harvard presents new difficulties to the administration and community, namely a newly energized blame game and unfortunate consequential apathy. For many students, the mental health issues on campus are institutional and structural. Many believe that the academic rigor, the subjective “largeness” of the university, the proximity to a city, and the bureaucratic administration have created a high-stress atmosphere that is “to be expected” at a place like Harvard university. Though these arguments may hold an element of truth, their unfortunate consequence is an overwhelming feeling of powerlessness.
It is important for the student body to recognize that the state of mental health is very much tied to the individual attitudes and actions of students. Institutional issues exist, to be sure, but student apathy about these issues seems to be an even more deeply manifested problem. Many of us don’t give enough attention to our own mental sanity, let alone attention to others trying to cope with what seems like an inevitably high stress environment. The general consensus on mental health, among students at least, is that it’s a problem with the way mental health facilities are organized or other structural factors; students quickly come to the conclusion that fixing a system is out of the student domain. What we need to realize is that the problem is two-fold; if we stop pointing fingers at the administration and start pointing in the mirror, perhaps we could really change the mental health environment on campus.