Post Academic

Academia and Mental Health: The New Obsession With Cornell

Posted in Process Stories,The Education Industry by Caroline Roberts on March 21, 2010
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Image Source,Photobucket Uploader Firefox ExtensionColleges are not known for fostering mental stability. It seems as if the world has just discovered this fact following the latest Cornell suicides. These tragedies seem to be in the news because there a part of the cycle and easy to fit into a narrative. “Oh, Cornell. So bleak. So competitive. And the gorges! My gosh, the gorges!” It’s as if students don’t commit suicide anywhere except Cornell.

What’s more important to discuss is that, on a campus, both students and professors can lose it quickly, especially when there’s no clear system regarding how to handle a problem. For example, most students assume you go to the student health center to get some condoms, not to get some counseling.

And what about the grad students and the professors? From grad school to tenure, the process is isolating. The lack of a regular schedule can take a toll. Not getting regular feedback, a la performance reviews, can take a bigger toll because you may have a distorted perception of how others perceive you in a department.

While there are plenty of workplace shootings in the hamster world, the hamster world also offers regular performance reviews and an HR department. HR might seem useless sometimes, especially if they lose their paperwork, but many workplaces have a process for how to handle someone who might pose a danger to themselves or others.

So, what steps can a school take to prevent violence or suicide on campus? And what can they do to reach out to grad students and professors, who don’t have an RA down the hall?

Image of Cornell campus from Wikimedia Commons by Pundit, under a Creative Commons license.

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