Mental Health – 6/12

There seems to be a wider national problem with attitudes towards mental health in the U.S that marginalises those affected – you just have to walk around downtown SF for 5 minutes until you bump into someone quite clearly suffering from psychosis who has no support network whatsoever. Having a network of support is vital for people struggling with their mental health, and both my university and SFSU let me down in that regard. I felt more like a chess piece in some bureaucratic game of university relations, being bombarded with emails from my home university effectively asking me not to cause any fuss, for their fear of me jeopardising the exchange agreement between the two universities. I was genuinely quite shocked by the lack of compassion and understanding, and thus felt alienated from both of the institutions I have been associated with.
At this point I realised that I would have to manage my personal issues on my own, and, in a perverse way, I am now thankful for this, because I have become far more emotionally independent and stronger as an individual. In the Land of the Free, it seems that you are equally within your rights to succeed and prosper as you are to suffer and perish. Just take a look at some of the people you’ll meet on the streets and try persuading me that this country has an acceptable level of social care for those with mental health problems. My own issues are absolutely trite in comparison, and this is perhaps why they weren’t taken seriously. As a privileged white male, I should put my issues in perspective and context, but the threshold of a problem’s validity should not be determined by the same negligent attitudes that have let down some of SF’s most vulnerable people.

Michael Rounds

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