Trust me when I say this: We should all be seeing a therapist.
I don’t know anyone on campus who isn’t struggling with their mental health in some way, shape or form. And out of everyone that I know struggling, there was one person I had trouble identifying. Myself.
If you’re like me, you think that you understand mental health. You repost articles from BuzzFeed about why mental health matters. You’ve spoken about the concept of the “Penn Face” to your friends and denounced it. You’ve shared “de-stress” puppy events with your friends on Facebook. And of course, you are the biggest advocate for Counseling and Psychological Services that you know.
But you don’t understand mental health as much as you think you do. You haven’t even read the BuzzFeed article you shared, and you have struggled to address the concept of Penn Face and how it affects you. You never have taken initiative to go to CAPS and feel like free puppies are not going to really help ease the mix.
In simpler terms, you tend to take care of others more than you take care of yourself. Now, more than ever, it is important for us to start treating mental health as much of a treatment issue as it is a campus-societal issue. I mean this when I say it. We should all be going to therapy.
Many of us believe that therapy is only for people who are dysfunctional or suffering from mental health issues. Neither of those things is true. Therapy is for the students at Penn who are withstanding serious life challenges such as job searching. Therapy is for the students at Penn who are having a hard time coping with an extremely difficult political environment. Therapy is for the students at Penn that feel alone within a campus full of thousands. Therapy may be for you.
Therapy is not about uncovering your life history and talking about the same problems over and over and over again with no solutions or synthetical approach to them. Therapy is about talking with someone who is trained to understand the anxiety, depression and mental hurdles you are facing in a fashion that is likely more healthy than the approach you’re probably taking now.
Through the drug and hookup culture of Penn, many of us have terrible outlets to relieve our stresses and anxieties. And while it is always brave to self-care however you do, therapy is an extremely helpful way, as it works as an outlet on a campus full of input. For myself, I found therapy to be helpful because it provided long-term solutions to many questions I had thought were simply short-term.
Good therapy is all about helping you feel better and make healthy decisions. It’s about redefining how you set boundaries for yourself, how to move from a place of poor emotional health to good emotional health, and how you respond to the connections you make with others.
We all know that we have access to therapy through CAPS, whose trained clinicians offer individual, group and couples therapy. But beyond that understanding, we lack a much-needed deep intersection with CAPS as a student body, leaving phone numbers, campus flyers and school-wide emails as just another part of our day.
Why isn’t there a personal relationship between students and CAPS? For some, it may be how far CAPS is from their off-campus apartments. For others, it can even be about the cost of resources that CAPS refers outside of clinical services. For some, it may be fear of diagnosis.
As students face enough hurdles in their way towards mental health, CAPS should not be one of them. CAPS provides services that tailor to short-term therapy for the majority of students, meaning that oftentimes students feel like their time at CAPS is limited and outside therapists can be too costly. I believe that students deserve a long-term therapy program through CAPS, because we are not dealing with short-term problems that a set number of appointments can solve.
We are all going through big changes that are worthy of a mental exhale from time to time. In the midst of tragedy from student deaths, fast-paced on-campus recruiting, and midterms every other day, we must find the time to take such an exhale. Therapy is an incredible place to start.
CALVARY ROGERS is a College junior from Rochester, N.Y., studying political science. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. “Cal’s Corner” usually appears every Wednesday.
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