LETTER: Harvard Provides Support for the Mentally Ill

Re: "Harvard Oppresses the Mentally Ill"

To the editors:

I read with interest the Apr. 12 op-ed "Harvard Oppresses the Mentally Ill” by Christopher Mejo.

I was sorry to learn of the difficulties faced by Mr. Mejo, a sophomore at the Harvard Extension School, and admittedly, I cannot speak to his experience in seeking academic accommodations. However, I am writing to strongly protest his assertion, in his title no less, that Harvard, as an institution, "oppresses the mentally ill."

In a world in which quality, affordable mental healthcare is hard to come by, Harvard students truly get the best of the best.  When I was a freshman here, I had my first serious bout of mental illness.  My freshman resident dean at the time, as well as the excellent clinicians at University Health Services, showed me a level of care I have never seen anywhere else.  Moreover, because of the excellent school insurance, I was able to get all the care I needed, including weeks in McLean Hospital, a Harvard-affiliated psychiatric hospital that is consistently ranked #1 in the country, all free of charge.  During the worst time of my life, people in the Harvard community were there to help.  My mom often expresses her amazement at how wonderful the Harvard community has been to me.

Although each person's situation is different, I hope Mr. Mejo's article doesn't discourage Harvard students from seeking out help when they need it.  In addition to UHS Mental Health Services, there are many organizations and individuals who strive to make Harvard the best place possible for students struggling with mental illness.  If you think you need help, talk to one of your advisers (your proctor, your resident dean, etc.).  They can quickly put you in contact with assistance, no matter the hour.

Does Harvard oppress the mentally ill?  Absolutely not.  Trust me, I've been there.

SETH RIDDLEY '12

Cambridge, Mass.

Apr. 17, 2010

Seth Riddley ’12 is a history and science concentrator in Mather House.

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