There is no singular IMSA experience.
Fun, unique, community, too much homework, and numerous other descriptors encompass the school, according to the Office of Institutional Research’s (OIR) Challenge Success surveys. Yet, within these varied stories lies a reality that students often struggle with — the fact that IMSA is rigorous, difficult, stressful…
…And above all else, challenging.
Mental health at IMSA needs to be taken seriously. Data from the 2021 Challenge Success survey indicates 84.9% of student respondents have reported at least one stress-related health symptom in the past month. Factors such as tests, college, the lack of sleep or rest, extracurriculars, and social relationships have all been cited as major sources of worry for students. According to IMSA’s 2021 Diversity Climate Survey, over 60% of responding IMSA students have encountered gender and sexual orientation-based discriminatory language, and almost half of all students report hearing racist remarks. Just over 40% of respondents report feeling unsafe at school for one or more reasons, including their appearance, identity, beliefs, and other personal factors. The list goes on.
“Challenging” does not do our experiences justice. From high-pressure academics to unpredictable on-campus living, from identity crises to mental health conditions, IMSA students struggle with a variety of problems, each unique to an individual’s own situation. It is impossible to generalize everyone into the same few umbrella terms; that would be a mistake. However, this should not deter us as a community from addressing our challenges and acknowledging each other’s circumstances through open, honest conversations.
With finals week quickly approaching, The Acronym has decided to publish its very first Mental Health Edition. We wanted to use our platform to listen to all of you — students, faculty, and staff — to guide our reporting and ensure its authenticity. We pursued this project with the hopes of raising awareness, sparking conversation, and providing resources to everyone. We hope this work educates, inspires, or helps at least one reader.
The edition aims to cover a variety of topics, including testimonies, advice columns, and even some feature pieces. Some articles are meant to be more lighthearted reads, such as a list of de-stressing techniques (10 Ways to Destress); others, ranging from anxiety (Discussing Anxiety Disorders) to substance abuse (If a Tree Falls), will cover sensitive issues. We believe that it is important to be vulnerable and uncomfortable while engaging in these conversations, as only then will we be able to effectively address our shortcomings and improve on the status quo.
That said, we also recognize that our edition is far from complete. We chose to report on issues that we found especially pertinent to the IMSA community, but there still exist so many important conversations that unfortunately did not make it onto this publication. Instead of trying to encompass everything, we hope that this edition serves to spark these necessary discussions.
Please remember that everyone on this campus is here for you. If you need professional help, please reach out to the mental health counselors at the Student Life Office (Dr. Kevin Kusy, Keisha Rheams, Alex Pratt, Suzi Leigh, and Saudamini Agarwal) or consider using nationally-available resources such as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-TALK (8255)) or the Crisis Text Line (Text “HELLO” to 741741). Always remember that your friends, family, and campus adults are resources that you can turn to if you feel safe talking to them. Above all else, prioritize yourself because you deserve it.
Please take care and enjoy this edition. Stay golden,
Your 2021-22 EICs
Oliver Ni and Liz Alcala 💛