An Unspoken Ban on Mental Illness

During my time at the first college I attended, I was forced to leave for a year, because, essentially, I was too depressed. They wanted me off campus, as fast as possible. And they made it very hard to come back. From what I have heard, it is not the only institution that has shown this kind of prejudice. This fictional letter shows what it felt like to be treated so harshly by the school’s administration.


Dear Student,

It has come to our attention that, for the past six months, you have been exhibiting all the warning signs and symptoms of depression. This behavior, we feel, is utterly unacceptable. Your therapist—who works for the college—has informed us that you have, after suffering for an extended period of time, begun to have thoughts of suicide. She tells us that she responded to your concerns by placing you in the local hospital, and looked to us for further instruction.

Upon reviewing the information we received, it is clear that you have been in violation of our school’s policy of mental health for quite some time. In an unspoken policy, in which we detail the rules and regulations regarding mental health, we state that, in order to be in keeping with our educational requirements, a student is not allowed to suffer from a mental illness of any kind, and anyone who does so shall be punished.

In addition to your general violation of our mental health policy (mental illness ban), because of your deplorable conduct and subsequent diagnosis, you have become a liability to us. Despite the fact that you sought help for yourself, went through many sessions of therapy, and took all of the medications prescribed to you, in an effort to save yourself from the dangers of a frightening disease, it is utterly clear to us that you do not value your own life. We understand that you have built up quite a network of support here at school, accompanied by a good deal of stability. However, we have no regrets about ripping the rug out from under your feet, provided that we don’t end up looking bad in a scenario in which you actually attempt to off yourself.

Therefore, you must leave school, immediately, for the period of at least one year. During this time, you may not return to campus for any reason; this rule is strictly enforced. If, after this time, you should wish to return to study with us, you must jump through several hoops and cut through a significant amount of red tape in order to prove that you will not continue to ruin our image with your unsightly suffering.


The Administration of (name of school withheld)

P.S. Because you are no longer a full-time student at our institution, your health insurance—which you obviously need a great deal—will be revoked, effective immediately.


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