Editorial: Mental health at Princeton
Mental health and well-being at Princeton does not simply consist of therapy sessions or counseling. The University offers many different ways for students to cope with the stress of attending Princeton. For example, the residential colleges provide free yoga classes and Dillon Gymnasium offers group fitness classes, letting students blow off steam with exercise. The Princeton University Yoga Council recently brought Sharon Salzberg, a meditation expert, to campus for a well-attended event in Chancellor Green. The University also makes funded gap years available to some students and allows other students to defer admission or take time off from school. These programs allow students to separate from the University to focus on other priorities besides their schoolwork. All of these things and countless others are making important contributions to mental health and well-being on campus.
Though counseling may not be necessary or the best method of coping for some students, for others, therapy is an important way to deal with and approach stress and depression. Princeton’s Counseling and Psychological Services offers such counseling free of charge to all students. These services are excellent resources for Princeton students who are struggling to cope with the difficulties of life at Princeton. Students should never feel bad about seeking out and using these resources. As members of this campus community, we should encourage friends who seem to be struggling to seek out help from these trained professionals. We should not be afraid to praise the work that the therapists do, and we should not hesitate to commend students who are not afraid to admit they need this type of help.
The biggest challenge to the utilization of these resources is not that they are inadequate, but rather that students do not adequately take advantage of them. There is a stigma at Princeton against looking weak, against looking like you need extra help. This destructive habit is passed off as putting your best foot forward or as a sign that you are too strong to need help. Unfortunately, this stigma produced by campus culture weakens us as individuals and as a community. We should all remember that Princeton is a difficult place and be mindful of how we view and discuss mental health issues. Overcoming the challenges that confront us at Princeton will make us smarter, better people. Especially when we learn one of the most valuable lessons of all: that we can call on others for support when we need it most.