I saw this article in the New York Times earlier this week, one that we all should be talking about. So today, let’s talk.
Take a look here at the article, the one that showcases a class-action lawsuit against Stanford regarding ill-addressed mental health and its students.
The title reads Feeling Suicidal, Students Turned to Their College. They Were Told to Go Home. Like many colleges nationwide, Stanford struggles to support its students with their mental health as conditions ranging from eating disorders to anxiety are on the rise in the college-age generation.
Yet, according to several reports from groups like Top Class Actions or the Stanford Daily, one University is not doing enough to support students but rather ask them to leave in accordance with their Dean’s Leave of Absence policy.
Including this article from the Disability Rights Advocates Corporation, most state that “Stanford routinely bars students from campus and on-campus housing when Stanford perceives that they may be at risk of self-harm or experiencing suicidal ideation.”
Now I understand that many schools face the issue of caring for more students that they can truly handle efficiently or appropriately. Yes, at a certain point it is beyond the scope of a university to provide certain kinds of help, and in some cases it is best to point a student towards facilities and resources that can properly suit their needs.
But cutting students off from their current resources or even schooling when they are in need of help does not seem like a solution. It seems like rather a diversion.
One that may help for some students who take a leave of absence and find proper treatment from home before returning to school with a better mindset and overall wellbeing.
That does not mean it is a solution for all.
For some students, turning them away only hurts them more. Not only this, but the alternative options of medication or counseling outside the school may not be affordable– even more so, the trial and error approach along with the side-effects that come with medication may leave the student worse off before they get better, especially without a proper support system in place.
Not only does this say something about how college’s value a student’s overall wellbeing, but also about the flaw in an educational system to provide a productive environment for students as a whole. Just like professional companies often offer services, sick leave, and other options for their employees, it seems student’s don’t quite have that luxury.
Not unless they’re willing to pay, more than their tuition, but also the loss of that tuition in order to leave school and find the help that they need.
This is a broken system.
When I say “system,” I am talking about both our mental healthcare and collegiate educational systems. First of all, the amount of people who cannot graduate high school or get to higher education at all– due to family obligation, school-to-prison pipeline, money, complication, etc.– is astounding and largely unequal.
If so much of the professional world depends on a degree and proper education these days, how can we hope for a diverse and productive work environment when there is no equity in getting to that education?
From ages 25-34, we see about 37% earning at least a bachelor’s degree while only 23% of African Americans and 16.4% of Hispanic Americans earning college degrees. I understand that some people do not desire/need college degrees for what they want to do and that is fine.
These numbers are a problem for those who do hope to attain degrees out of their reach.
So within our education systems, there is a flaw of gross inequity. And within the mental healthcare systems, it seems proper care is not always being offered.
When you combine these two issues with the academic, financial, social, and professional pressure of college, it becomes dangerous. This puts the future of a generation’s professional and personal wellbeing at risk for failure.
No matter where this class-action lawsuit goes, I know we can do better as a people. There needs to be a higher value on mental health as well as equity within education as a whole.
Students have to get to a point of being suicidal; it doesn’t just happen out of the blue. And children need to be educated properly from the very beginning– all children from all backgrounds, with some way for them to reach higher education if they would like to.
We Need Change
Think of the world we are about to live in, the one we want our kids and grandkids to thrive in. We shouldn’t have to live within these broken systems that foster inequity and improper treatment. And they shouldn’t either, not when we can start making a change for better now.
Those students are using the law to make a difference. As of today, I have my voice for change so I am using it.
*Cue Allstate guy “are you in good hands?” voice…
So what are you going to do about it?
2 thoughts on “When a Flaw Becomes a Risk…”
Wow – I guess this is one reason why I really like my university – they try and advertise that it’s ok to seek out help for mental illness or stress and make it really obvious how to schedule appointments with the counselor and they advertise how they have a little wellness center with massage chairs and happy lights too. As part of the graduate student group for my Dept we hold events to get everyone to come out and talk to each other and get some sunlight (grad school can be so lonely and so many students suffer from some sort of anxiety or depression) and they also made it so that grad students even had different counselors than the undergrads so they wouldn’t feel uncomfortable seeing their own students when waiting for an appointment. More schools should really advertise and improve these resources for their students – I really believe anyone can succeed if given the right tools and just telling them to “go home” to weed them out is really just losing a lot of potential success stories.
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I think it’s really important that you say anyone can succeed with the right tools. What your school does is so important because it truly fosters overall success and wellbeing for students as a whole. I appreciate your insight and you taking the time to say something, it’s great to hear some schools are doing something right!