Changing Mental Health Attitudes
I agree with Eric J. Plosky '99 that our society breeds anxiety and distrust ["Paranoia Problems," Feb.9] and, sadly, I also agree with Julia C. Lipman '99 that MIT has a casual attitude toward student suicide ["Treating Depression," Feb. 12]. MIT cannot do much about society's alienation, due, in part, to the tidal waves of information we are constantly receiving, but the Institute can and should do more to address mental health issues in our community.
MIT's culture is tough and "hard fun" is our watchword. We have lost and we will continue to lose "warm, funny, bright, talented, caring, and sensitive" young people such as Michael P. Manley '02 unless the Institute, from the top down and from the bottom up, gives more time and attention to fostering a sense of community. Medical Department staff do their job, but it is quite obvious that some people who need help never get it.
The residence redesign process gave all of us an opportunity to speak out on the process of community-building. Discussions included not only "hardware" like buildings and windows, but also "software" like programs and activities. I'd like to see the latter include an Intervention Coalition, described online at http://web.mit.edu/residence/systemdesign/ answers/EveSullivan.html, to address heavy stuff such as drinking, depression, and eating disorders as well as light stuff like table manners, and my charm school favorite, exemplary locomotion.
Senior Editorial Assistant
Laboratory for Nuclear Science