Gaining Closure at the End of the School Year

By Jocelyn Gardner '17
Mental Health Columnist & Webmaster

A letter from the Mental Health Columnist:

Dear readers,

This was my first year writing for The Scripps Voice, and I’m so glad that I did. Referring all the way back to my first article, I said that I write for this column because I genuinely care about this issue, and I have seen such a diverse range of effects. I wanted to raise awareness with critical analysis (which sounds boring) through a social justice and human-centered focus while writing with empathy and compassion. I hope I served my goals.

In this year’s 11 issues, I have covered many topics, but I have by no means exhausted the list of possible topics to explore. There is so much more work to be done. To recap, I started off with a piece about the importance of looking at mental health in our 5C environment, then continued with mental health as a social justice issue, information about little-known burnout, self-care, language, eating disorder awareness, race, space and emotional abuse.

Next year, I am going to continue this work, and I hope to delve even deeper into topics, especially on the home front of Scripps College. This year has been a year of awareness and change in terms of so many campaigns, issues, protests, etc., and in this spirit, I want to continue questioning seemingly normal but covertly harmful constructs. Yes, we know about stigma and intersectionality, but those are just the tip of the iceberg. How does our beloved college take part in institutionalized violence? This has been on my mind since last year, and it is a question that I don’t want to leave unanswered and unaddressed.

With all the shady policies, cover-up tactics and avoidance of responsibility I’ve encountered, I can’t just let the issue drop. From everyday accommodations to mental health crises, there are dubious minutiae and gaping (but invisible or ignored) loopholes.

On that chilling note, I want to now do a complete 180-degree turn and focus on the positives. So, the school year of 2014-2015… we made it. Congratulate yourselves! This is worth celebrating. If you don’t allow yourself some moments of pride, you can’t realistically expect to continue without burning out. So stop dwelling on perceived shortcomings or regrets, and think about all the changes and triumphs in the past many months. Some of you finished your first or last year of college or decided to study abroad thousands of miles away. Maybe you declared or changed your major, met your best friend or found a new favorite way to procrastinate. Whatever it is, take a moment to be proud of it.  

As we move into the summer, I want to encourage you to keep these topics in mind and to keep an eye out for the omnipresent but hidden issues surrounding mental health. The summer is also a time that is quite different from the rest of the year. Some of you are moving on to new things, and others are looking forward to another year at Scripps—regardless of your path, remember to take care of yourself. Times of change and transition are as stressful as they are exciting, and this is a prime time for unexpected or unwanted emotions. Don’t dismiss them; they are normal. In these periods, it is so easy to put yourself last and focus on the task at hand. Like all other portions of time in a life, the hard times pass or at least change, even if it doesn’t seem like it.

I will now close this letter with a reminder that, when it comes to mental health, people are going through more than you know. Reach out to them, and don’t be put off by the “awkwardness” of talking about real things. There are people and resources to support you, always.

Have a great and safe summer, and I look forward to writing for you all again in the fall! Good luck to those who are finishing their final year at Scripps, and welcome to those who will be joining us next year.