By Kayli Harley, Staff Writer
// There are “madmen” in the room. They sit the same as the others in the space, but a barrier of shame and ignorance isolates them. They suffer in silence, yet no one dares to interrupt the quiet. The “madmen” sit silently and face the tribulations of mental health alone.
Students gathered together this past Monday in the Leadership classroom to watch a video of a Technology, Entertainment, and Design (TED) Talk focusing on the topic of taking care of one’s mental health. The Acalanes Leadership Student Support Board organized the viewing of the TED talk in order to bring more awareness to mental health on campus.
Acalanes senior and member of the Student Support Board, Mila Mathias, expressed that as finals week quickly approaches, it is crucial for students to take the time to think about their mental health.
The talk, “There’s no shame in taking care of your mental health,” given by Sangu Delle, conveyed to students that it is detrimental to society to allow the stigma around mental health to influence how we handle our suffering.
Delle mentioned that the fear of being viewed differently by society contributes to widespread disregard and judgment of mental illness, an idea that resonated with students who attended the video screening.
“I learned that there is a lot of stigma around mental health, and the speaker in the TED Talk video, talked about the fear of being seen as the ‘madman.’ Everyone is ‘suffering in silence,’ to quote what he said,” Mathias said.
While the stigma around mental health is universally damaging, it affects the Acalanes community as well. Although Acalanes holds high standards for academics, those standards sometimes result in students reaching their breaking points as they struggle to perform at a high level.
“I know that I have gone through phases where I have just been pushing through and not showing everything, and then it just goes over the brim, and I break down,” Mathias said. “I think students, especially at Acalanes, need a place to slow down and relax so that they don’t go through this cycle.”
Acalanes Leadership teacher, Katherine Walton, feels that it is her duty as an adult on campus to talk to and support her students regularly.
“I think that I can always do better at just asking students how they are doing and what they need. Because If I am not talking about it, I am probably not serving the needs of some of my students,” Walton said.
Acalanes sophomore Sally Sheehan believes that it is essential for students to realize that they have resources on campus they can confide in, and by being open, they can create a more understanding and welcoming climate at Acalanes.
“Mental health stigma can detrimentally alter relationships between students and the overall atmosphere at the school. While we have the wellness center at school, mental health stigma prevents those students from utilizing this resource,” Sheehan said. “By helping to overcome the stigma, we can help those in need, and create a better environment at school.”