Almost eight months have passed since we published the first issue of The Yale Layer. Almost ten months have passed since Anna Hope first approached me with an ambitious plan, resolute in her conviction that something in the Yale culture needed to change, and that we could help.
Anna Hope, I can say today that I am happy I stuck by your side. You were right: the vocabulary of stress has become so central to our everyday dialogue that we overlook the implications it carries. It seems that the way we engage with stress is deceptive: we sometimes even take a perverse pride in amassing stressors and laying them out for our friends to see.
So it’s not that we don’t talk about stress; it’s that we talk about it so much that we fail to see the damage. In the scramble to get from point A to point B (whether point A and B be LC and WLH, or a perfect GPA and perfect summer internship), we trip up, but don’t ever stop to nurse our wounds because there is too little time. We focus on the future, and on the inconceivable number of things we have to check off our list to get there.
Things become precarious: the more uncertain we are, the more inconceivable the thought of accomplishing our tasks becomes, and the more anxious we get. We carry the weight of the world on our shoulders, but talk too little about how this makes us feel, as if this herculean effort is a prerequisite to our admission into this school. Mental health becomes frivolous – another extracurricular that we do not have time to deal with, because we are too busy trying to stay above the fray.
Now, I have very few answers to offer when it comes to subverting the “Yale is perfect and so are we” narrative. I diagnose our school’s stress problem not to condemn it or provide a sweeping solution, but to acknowledge that I, too, have been swept away in its currents. In fact, I know very little about a life without stress, anxiety, and overwhelming feelings of loneliness.
But since joining the Layer, I have come to realize a couple of things that have changed my perception of the future of mental health at this school. The project has made me understand that we are a school of resilient faces and courageous voices. While mental health issues are pervasive, those who have worked with me on the Layer have proved to me that Yale students are never apathetic in the face of adversity.
I am inspired by and grateful for those who have come forward to acknowledge that a problem exists. To those of you who have contributed to the Layer, in any form, I thank you for sharing, and I hope you know that your words have made an impact on others and on me. To those of you on the Layer Board: this is an extracurricular I am happy I took up. You all have only been a source of joy in my life and I am proud to say that I would not have the courage to admit my own flaws if it were not for all of you. And to those of you who have taken the time to read the Layer, I can only extend my immense gratitude: our publication would not exist without your support.
Today, we are part of a larger movement that has swept the campus and has brought about tangible change in the Yale Community. Yesterday, the Chief of Mental Health and Counseling at Yale Health announced a 10-11% increase in the number of students seeking appointments at the health center. Moreover, Yale Health will be substantially expanding their capacity to serve students who seek mental health resources. This is proof that the stigma with these matters has decreased significantly.
Of course, this is just the beginning, and there is much more work left to do. The Layer looks forward to leading the charge on changing the Yale culture through art, writing, and more. At the end of the day, we hope we have inspired you, moved you, and motivated you to share your own story.
Enjoy our last issue of the year!
By Sabrina Bustamante, Editor-In-Chief of the Yale Layer.