The mental health crisis

Photo by Blake Israel

COVID-19 has affected everyone over the past few years, but I believe one group of people deserves more public support, that group being the mentally ill. Many people have developed mental illnesses like depression over the pandemic, and those who had preexisting mental illnesses only got worse. Mental illness can go unseen; people can have them, and you would not even know they had it.  Anyone you know could be afflicted with an unseen mental illness, and they deserve to be able to get help. However, one institute is providing subpar support towards the afflicted: Georgia Tech.

I began my battle with depression during my first year of Tech, and throughout the years, I tried to ignore it. I didn’t believe that I could have a real problem. I thought that I was just being overdramatic. Then, the pandemic hit, and it only got worse. I couldn’t go to class, I couldn’t do work, I couldn’t even get out of bed. Existing was a struggle in itself. Living every day was a battle. Existing hurt.

What seemed impossible was getting help, one reason for that being that I had to admit that I needed help. While it seems so obvious from the outside that there was something wrong, in the moment, I thought I was faking it. 

I was being overdramatic. It wasn’t really that bad. I was making a mockery of the struggle that actual depressed people went through. It took a long time for me to admit to myself that there was something very wrong. I needed to get help. The hardest thing that I’ve ever had to do was make that call and admit to somebody else that I needed their help. 

So, I did what any student would do if their school offered them free psychiatric support, I called Tech’s mental health services, CARE. I got their voicemail, maybe they were at lunch. I called again later, and once again got sent to voicemail. I left my information and waited … and waited … and waited. Finally, a month after I left my message, I gave up on them. They weren’t ever going to return my call. If I had been any worse, that would have been the end of this story. 

Thankfully, I wasn’t, and I got the help I needed from elsewhere, but I can’t help but wonder if there are other people in my position who are still waiting. Still waiting on their call to be returned, still waiting for help from Tech. Or worse, if there were people in my position who didn’t live to ask for help from anywhere else.

Admitting to someone that you need their help is incredibly difficult for many people. The fact that Tech is having people go through that, thinking that they’re getting help when they are never going to get their literal call for help answered, is cruel. Giving people a false sense of hope, thinking that help is coming, when really, it’s not.

Tech is widely known to have a large population of depressed students. They are going through enough without having to deal with the continuous stresses of Tech. How can Tech stand by while so many of its students are suffering? 

Tech’s treatment of its mentally ill student body is unacceptable. Tech needs to step up and meet the psychiatric needs of its students, whether that be increasing staff at CARE, or simply making information on outside psychiatrists readily available. 

Something needs to be done because what is being offered to students now, isn’t enough.