Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Depressed in college.

The same day I read this Trip Gabriel piece on student mental health in the New York Times, I learned that someone I am close with is taking a semester off college because of depression. My young friends who have been in this situation—and there is a surprising number—have not abused Adderall, binged, cut themselves or engaged in other sorts of behaviors that capture the attention of RAs and journalists. They are outwardly pleasant, rule-followers who simply found their depression unmanageable on campus. If you knew them casually they would be the last people you would think of having such difficulties, which means they’re likely to face a sort of “buck up, this shall pass!” message from people who do not understand. Depression has indiscriminate, grippy claws.

This leaves me to wonder about the scope of the problem, and its nature. Is there something about college that makes previously manageable depression unmanageable? Is it easier for universities to send students home rather than to help them get well? Is it worth it, on the other hand, to stay in school when you are under a cloud? Do students whose depression sets them off track manage to graduate, and how did their universities facilitate that or stand in their way?

I look forward to learning more.

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