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UC Berkeley’s ‘Crying Map’ May Not Be the Best Mental Health Solution

U.C. Berkeley, perhaps one of the most left-leaning universities, believes there’s a way to help students with their mental health issues and its called a ‘crying map.’

For their special issue on mental health, the university’s ‘The Daily Californian’ is gathering information about where its students cry on campus.

So far, 360 submissions have been given to the publisher.

As part of their special edition on mental health issues, students are told:

“If you’re comfortable, tell us about a time you cried and where it happened, be it a hidden corner in Dwinelle Hall or the middle of Memorial Glade. Also include why you were crying, whether you were happy or sad. Reviewed submissions will be added to the map.”

Five respondents’ stories are then highlighted along with a map which pinpoints where they cried.

One student who is a junior indicates, “My father called me and told me my paw-paw passed away.”

A Berkeley senior says: “I performed a poem about my trauma for the Poetry for the People class. It was the first time in my life I spoke about an incredible act of violence that happened seven years ago, and I bore my soul to my small nine-person section. I will always be grateful for my peers and the (teaching assistants) for holding a space and helping me heal.”

A sophomore recalls: “Spring 2017 semester I had just started seeing a psychiatrist and was trying out different dosages of antidepressants. The one I was trying was making my memory really bad, and one day I was going to leave a class early to go make up a quiz. I completely forgot (the quiz) and, with five minutes left for me to get there, I was sprinting around LeConte trying to find the room while emailing my (graduate student instructor). He ended up just leaving before I found the room, and I sobbed really hard on one of the bridges connecting the buildings.”

A female alumna says: “I was studying late in a library with some friends during my first semester of freshman year. My mom called me and I went outside to talk to her. Suddenly, I burst into tears from the overwhelming stress of midterms and the heavy weight on my chest of having to decide what I wanted to do with my life. I felt so directionless, like I was guessing at my interests and major and potentially guessing wrong. I finished up the conversation, cleaned up my face and went back to the library to study with my friends.”

Another alumnus wrote: “Undergraduate graduation, happy (bittersweet) with my daughter next to me. For many reasons it was an exceedingly emotional day. Yep, cried in public at Berkeley when I almost made it through dry-eyed. It felt better looking around though, a lot of intense feelings graduates were experiencing. Go Bears!”

At the end of the article, Berkeley offers information regarding where a person suffering from a mental health issue can receive professional help if needed.

Mental health issues are important and should be taken seriously. Helping someone to open up about their feelings is often the first step toward healing.

However, is airing these private issues publicly the best course of action?

Is pinpointing where you became emotional on a map helpful…at all?

I would agree that sharing problems with others can often help them to understand that they are not alone. It’s a great step in the healing process.

However, this is typically undertaken in a group setting and led by a psychotherapist or other mental health professional to assure that a safe environment is maintained.

All too often, the vulnerability of a person can be misused and even abused by another who takes advantage of that vulnerability.

So, while a “good” attempt by Berkeley to assist those who are in need, perhaps Berkeley could ditch the map, stop publishing personal stories with sensitive information (even though they apparently have permission to do so and the submissions are voluntary) and leave the issue of resolving mental health issues to the professionals.

In a side note: perhaps a ‘crying map’ that pinpoints where the parents of Berkeley students cried when they paid their child’s tuition would be more helpful.





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