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Editorial Board: We’ve got your back

Observer Editorial | Thursday, October 10, 2013

Notre Dame is an incredible place, but this school is not perfect.
And we don’t have to be perfect, either.
In light of Mental Health Awareness Week, The Observer ran a series of stories addressing mental health issues at Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s. We spoke with staff, faculty and, perhaps most importantly, students about dealing with these challenges on each campus. The following is what these conversations revealed.
Faculty, staff and students alike often feel stressed, anxious and overwhelmed. We feel burdened by situations outside of our control. Sometimes, we are not even sure why we feel what we feel, but we know that something is not right. And sometimes, this anxiety or depression is a daily reality, and recovery isn’t a quick fix, but a lifelong battle.
Perhaps because we are at a University filled with high-achievers and go-getters, sometimes we are embarrassed to admit we are struggling. We worry that to do so would mean we have failed to take care of ourselves, and we fear that seeking help is a sign of weakness. In reality, nothing could be further from the truth.
Depression, anxiety, eating disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder and other mental illnesses are just that: illnesses. Like a case of the flu or strep throat, facing a mental health issue just means that something in your body is off-kilter and needs to be addressed. Seeking help from others is often the most effective way to alleviate the problem and to get back on your feet. It is one of the most honorable and courageous steps a person who is struggling can take.
Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s provide many resources for members of our community who face mental health challenges. The University Counseling Center (UCC) and Women’s Health at Saint Mary’s provide free counseling sessions. Rectors, assistant rectors and resident assistants (RAs) can listen and support students. Many professors and Holy Cross clergy members also welcome conversations with students about any issues they may face.
The most valuable resources that we have, however, are our fellow students. We call ourselves “the Notre Dame family” because we support, care about and look out for one another. We are a community that values each other’s happiness above all else.
If you are struggling with a mental health issue, no matter how big or how small, you are not failing.
You are not broken.
And you certainly are not fighting this battle alone.
Reach out to someone. Mention to a friend that you’re having a hard time. Chat with your RA. Call the UCC and tell a counselor what’s going on.
Believe that you are worthy of feeling better. Know that you deserve whatever support you feel you may need. Even though not everyone might fully understand what you are going through, we are here to listen.
Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s and Holy Cross student governments collaborated this week to organize mental health-related events for our community. The theme they chose serves as a poignant reminder of the most important aspect of facing a mental health issue on campus:
No matter who you are or what you’re going through, we’ve got your back.