Let’s Talk: Mental Health and Accessibility Services 

So I am going to be honest- things have been quite rough for me lately. As someone who was diagnosed with anxiety and depression several years ago, I am used to managing my mood with medication. However, sometimes medication isn’t enough. I am getting increasingly anxious in my seminar classes and I am still trying to catch up with deferred assignments from last semester. My meetings this week went poorly and my initiatives at my college have run amok. So, under the strong advisement of my doctor, I have decided to sign-up for Accessibility Services.
A picture of rice, stemmed broccoli, and a lot of cheese.
Feel sad? Here is my comfort food. 😀
Beyond their wonderful volunteer note-taking program, Accessibility Services provides all sorts of academic accommodations for students. These accommodations are available not just for mental health issues, but also for concussions, learning disabilities, mobility issues, low vision, and hard of hearing. For students with disabilities or are differently abled, this service can potentially bridge the gap between inaccessibility and success. So why did I not sign up earlier? Well, there are several reasons, but they can all easily be boiled down to pride. I didn’t want to admit that I needed help, or essentially what I considered a “middle-man” between my professor and I. I also did not want my professors to be aware of my mental health troubles. And I certainly did not want to deal with the associated stigma.
Me smiling at the camera.
Yet, in the end, this “high-ground” only exacerbated my own sense of stigma.  Furthermore, by not getting help earlier my depression worsened because I was trying, and failing, to keep up with my workload and neurotypical peers. In fact my friends suggested to me numerous times to sign up for Accessibility Services but did I listen? Nope. I continually shunned their advice because of my pride. The reality is that Accessibility Services actually attempts to create an equitable ground for all students. So what if I may not be like my able-minded peers - that is okay. What is not okay is for me to push myself to finish my assignments to the point where it is negatively affecting my health and wellbeing. Alongside Accessibility Services, I have also promised myself to go to Peers are Here, a non-judgmental, drop-in space organized by students, for students where you can connect with fellow peers, share experiences, and learn wellness strategies. For undergraduate students, it takes place on Thursdays from 5 to 6pm at the Medical Sciences Building in Room 3227. You can find out more information here. And so, to coincide with the Let’s Talk campaign, I have decided to be more open about my limitations. I have also decided to use a multi-pronged approach for my wellbeing by utilizing CAPS, my college’s registrar, Peers are Here, and Accessibility Services.  I hope that come the end of the year, my proactive steps will lead to my greater well being and academic success. Lots of love, Haley    

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