Anastasia Vasko ’19
Within the first week of 2019, the instagram account @hcerasethestigma posted its first anonymous story and since has grown in popularity among students. But why now? And why is mental health among college students globally dwindling? Well, the “new year, new me” philosophy combined with the massive influence of the @sexualassualtonthehill account surely had an impact on the need to increase awareness on the surge of anxiety and depression among 18-22 year olds. According to Penn State’s Center for Collegiate Mental Health in 2017, 1 out of 5 students reported anxiety or depression. This report only accounts for the students who spoke out, meaning, that the number of students either undiagnosed or concerned about social stigma were not included in the 20% statistic. Lack of sleep, the toxic impact of social media on self-esteem, drug abuse, spiralling debt, and/or environmental and psychological issues can be the causes, but in order to understand the whole picture, students must be empowered to speak about their struggles in order to get better.
Holy Cross itself– like many elite colleges– has a demanding workload which often leads to stress, adding or creating anxiety and spells of depression. I myself have struggled with depressive episodes and sleepless, anxiety-filled often on the Hill as the atmosphere both from the pressure to perform academically and the constant need to fit into the cliche-filled social environment and I know that I, unfortunately, am not alone. As the instagram account’s following has increased and the number of posts become more and more prevalent, the next question that comes to mind is what is the school doing for people like myself who have realized coping with alcohol or other substances only goes so far? Thus far, it seems to be something grossly ignored. But, the community that Holy Cross’s student body continues to create with the social media accounts which allow for voices to be heard in a anonymous platform certainly adds to the awareness and sharing of personal, often isolating, experiences students go through in hopes of helping those affected and those who want to help.