Students and faculty discuss mental health in roundtable forum

Molly Wilson

According to the student running the open forum on mental health issues held at the Underground Coffeehouse Monday, May 11, your GPA will decrease by one to three tenths on average if you do not get at least seven to eight hours of sleep four nights a week.
The forum, sponsored by the student wellness committee, was attended by both students and faculty who discussed dealing with the stress and anxiety that have become synonymous with Lawrence’s hectic spring terms.
Some students attributed their stress to time management: One student claimed she was “just trying to do everything at once” without any downtime. A few other students felt that their stress came from friends and parents who take up valuable studying time “catching up” on the phone.
Still others placed the blame on professors who do not seem to care what is happening in their students’ lives as long as that paper gets turned in. One professor countered this complaint by saying that “what students don’t know is, we probably share a lot of the same stress that they do.”
Many pinned the stress on the community: “Lawrence makes you feel like you have to be perfect.” Some say the university’s culture itself makes students and faculty alike feel like they always have to be “top-notch.”
However, the forum agreed that the No. 1 cause of stress on the Lawrence campus was peer pressure.
Everyone wants to see who can do well, and correspondingly, who can’t do well. According to multiple sources in the meeting, everyone tries to one-up each other. Everyone needs to take that extra class, to be in that extra club, to pull that all-nighter just to prove that they’re working harder than the best friend or roommate. Everyone needs to have the best GPA, make president of his or her club, get into that house and be in that extra ensemble.
At the same time, students who push themselves beyond their limits in order to do better than their peers make a choice to do so. As one professor said, “In middle school, you don’t have to wear those shoes to be cool.” Students attempt to cater to the needs of their professors, their studios, their varsity teams and their student organizations without taking care of their physical and mental wellbeing. A higher GPA or the number of clubs they’re involved in or jobs they’re doing, on or off-campus, become a sort of status symbol, proof that they are working harder than everyone else.
When the discussion began to wind down, a faculty member recalled a cartoon she had once received. It had the image of a stick figure, sitting straight up in its bed with huge eyes. The cartoon said, “Life Realization #153: no one cares what my GPA in college was.