“The pain that made you the odd one out is the song that connects you to the world.”
That poem — “Eleven,” by Tanya Markul — provides a potent image of the story of mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Students have long struggled with mental health issues on campuses, often in shame and secrecy. They have done so in large part because of the prejudice and discriminatory actions that often occur when students are open about their illnesses or take leaves of absence. They are also subjected to forced exclusion: Half (four) of the Ivy League schools have policies that include “community disruption” as grounds for an involuntary leave of absence, even when there is no evidence that the “disruptive” behaviors of students with mental health conditions pose a threat to the safety of their peers.