PROACTIVITY OVER REACTIVITY

We would be lying if any one of us claimed that we had never said, “I wish I had thought of that earlier!” Many of the difficult experiences that we face in life are avoidable in the hands of a proactive community. Meaning that if we work together to look a few steps ahead, we have the power to prevent some of life’s most terrible tragedies. Read on to learn more about the importance of proactivity and how you can make it a bigger part of your life.

PROACTIVITY OVER REACTIVITY

by Madison Wright

Earlier this month, the series “13 Reasons Why” premiered on Netflix and has sparked controversial conversations ever since (spoilers ahead). The series tells the story of a girl, Hannah, who was bullied and assaulted throughout high school, which ultimately drove her to the decision to commit suicide. However, Hannah left 13 tapes behind, each with an individual reason explaining her decision. The show dives into uncharted territory for television with vivid depictions of serious issues like bullying, victim shaming, depression and suicide. Though many aspects of the show are disturbing, the most disturbing thing presented, in my opinion, is the lack of resources and assistance for the mentally ill at Hannah’s high school.

The high school in “13 Reasons Why” follows many stereotypical high school tropes for cliques, jocks and cheerleaders. Although Hannah’s initial conflicts might appear to be trivial and classic forms of high school drama, her mental state quickly deteriorates as she starts her battle with anxiety and depression. Hannah is frequently publicly humiliated and neither her peers nor her teachers offer her any support. Lastly, she visits the school counselor and confides in him about the bullying, assault and her thoughts of suicide and asks for help in how to prosecute her assaulter. The counselor proceeds to victim shame her and tell her that her case is hopeless and that she will have to get over it or learn to live with it. After Hannah’s suicide the high school starts a campaign against suicide and hangs various posters advocating against it, to mourn her death.

The campaign the school launches after the tragedy is a form of reactivity. The school did not offer any help or resources for Hannah, but in reaction to her death they try to raise awareness in the community. Proactivity would have been for the school to already have had resources publicly available to students and to have a counselor who is trained in crisis intervention. The counselor undermined Hannah’s experiences instead of recognizing that she needed serious and immediate help. If the school had been more prepared for serious situations with mental illness like this, Hannah could have gotten the help she needed before it was too late. What does this mean for mentally ill students around the world that don’t have the will to seek help on their own? And the students that don’t have social support to seek it for them? These students are invisible to the school system and serious changes should be done to prevent further tragedies, like Hannah’s.

Luckily, here on campus at UCSC, there are a variety of resources for those struggling with mental illness or having a rough time. CAPS offers online resources, counseling by appointment, Let’s Talk, and a 24 hour phone service. If you visit the UCSC CAPS website (https://caps.ucsc.edu/), all the services offered are listed by categories. The website also has a self-help library that offers information and tips on specific issues; like stress, anxiety and trauma. CAPS provides a free online resource called WellTrack with a mood check feature to track how your mood varies from day to day. CAPS is here for the students, but if talking to a counselor doesn’t suit you, there are workshops put on by peer educators to offer help as well.

Although CAPS is a proactive resource at UCSC it is also up to everyone else to be proactive as well, in engaging in self-care and looking out for their peers at all times to ensure that UCSC is a safe and welcoming community for everyone. This kind of proactivity makes all the difference for someone who is facing a battle with mental illness like Hannah was.

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