The surge in the number of college students seeking out mental-health services on campus has been getting plenty of attention from the media. For example, in The Wall Street Journal, Melissa Korn and Angela Chen have a major feature on that demand and implications for university budgets.
All the focus on today's troubled students ignores the reality that growing up had been fairly overwhelming for just about every American generation. Because there had been a stigma about mental illness and going for help wasn't the thing to do, we Baby Boomers stuffed the whatevers, in college. We got through the four years, in four years.
Once we graduated was when so many of us come undone. The structure of college was gone. We just couldn't hold on any more. Meanwhile we were expected to take on more and more adult responsibilities.
Somehow we found some kind of mental-health services. Then came the miracle meds like Prozac. The new game was to keep out of the mental hospital. Not to keep our depression, angst and even hallucinations under wraps.
As we age, there have been new kinds of rites of passage, just as overwhelming as those in our young adulthood. Career opportunities are curtailed. Socially we become invisible. Usually we have to adjust to making a budget and sticking to it. Friends die.
Some of us are turning to booze. Some to meditation. Some to elder circles. In 2003, I had to return to antidepressants. Aging threw me for a loop.