From the President of Mental Wealth (Student Minds) Cambridge University
I think we should talk about mental health.
I was directed to your interview in the Tab by a friend who warned me that it would ‘hit a nerve’. I was intrigued; your highly publicised views on children’s names and people who have ginger hair have only ever indirectly struck me as faintly ridiculous. However, when the nonsense becomes vitriol, and is injected into the subject of mental health, my friend was right to know that I would be enraged.
As President of Student Minds Cambridge, and one of the founding trustees of teenage mental health charity ‘The Invictus Trust’, I deplore your views, and felt it necessary to set you right on a few things; not just on the behalf of everybody who has suffered from mental health issues in Cambridge, but also on behalf of all those who are working to raise awareness and change attitudes towards mental health across the country.
Firstly, the lowlight of your comments for me was that depression is a “default position” for “people who have not been able to get a grip on their lives”. This statement is not only cruelly-worded, but also a wildly misinformed generalisation. Suggesting that depression is a “default position” implies that most people suffering with mental health issues use it as an excuse or justification to moan, when in fact the majority of mental health sufferers don’t admit to their issues, let alone seek help. Here in Cambridge, whilst 92% of students have experienced mental distress, only 17% have sought any kind of help. That shows neither strength nor weakness; mental health issues are mired with shame, suffocated in stigma, and are often struggled with in private, and it is careless comments like these that damage any effort for change.