The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Opinion Yale should work harder on mental health

Students gather on the Yale University campus on Aug. 22, 2021, in New Haven, Conn. (Ted Shaffrey/Associated Press)

As a Yale alumna who has personally experienced the way Yale treats mentally ill students, I was appalled by Director of Yale Mental Health & Counseling Paul Hoffman and Dean of Yale College Pericles Lewis’s Nov. 16 letter to the editor, “Yale takes health seriously.”

By stating they were “disappointed” to read The Post’s reporting on this issue, they implied they were disappointed that mentally ill students’ voices are being given space in one of the nation’s preeminent newspapers.

They suggested that this reporting is “dangerous” because it calls attention to the harmfulness of the university’s mental health policies. In doing so, they came dangerously close to blaming students who have courageously spoken out about their own mental health challenges for any potential self-harm committed by, or mental health crises experienced by, other Yale students in the future. This is sickening, and Mr. Hoffman and Mr. Lewis should apologize.

That the university would think it advisable to have its representatives respond to The Post’s reporting, which was sourced from conversations with students struggling with mental health issues, by mansplaining that “addressing students’ mental health is a complex and nuanced endeavor” is baffling and laughable. In addition to overhauling its medical withdrawal policies, Yale should fire its PR team.

Before Mr. Hoffman, Mr. Lewis or other Yale administrators decide to again smear responsible reporting that shines a light on the experiences of some of Yale’s most vulnerable students, they should remember Yale’s motto: “Lux et Veritas” — light and truth.

Rachel Brooke Williams, Washington

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