Greek life should expand mental health support, accommodations

With bids weekend at an end and the chaos of recruitment finally settling down, Geneseo’s Greek life has a slew of new members eager to make friends and to become a part of a new family. 

Mental health, however, is one of the biggest challenges someone may face during their college career—and it is a challenge that is not necessarily addressed or considered within the Greek life system. 

One out of 20 Americans over the age of 12 experience depression, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention study, as done in 2005-06. In fact, Psychology Today highlights that between one quarter and one third of students meet criteria for an anxiety or depressive illness.

So how does this tie into Greek life? Many factors associated with depression and anxiety can be alleviated, or at least mitigated, with the help of a solid support system. 

Though those with a mental health issue may be using every tool in their arsenal to get out of bed in the morning, the added benefit of a welcoming community can give someone something to look forward to. 

Many college fraternities and sororities require library hours to study, have meetings dedicated to bonding, participate in volunteer events and provide a shared space of safety. 

Geneseo’s requirements for Greek life are as follows: college freshman need 12 credits hours—usually one full semester—and a GPA of a 2.0 to receive a bid to a Greek organization. For transfer students and those over the age of 21, these students need 12 post-high school credits and a GPA of 3.25. 

Although these requirements were presumably made to allow time for the student to acclimate to Geneseo life, the social aspects of college can often exacerbate mental health issues brought on by those who don’t have a support system established in a new place. 

A student who may be struggling academically because of these issues may not be allowed to join Greek life, thus further preventing the student from finding a support system. 

Everyone experiences mental health in different ways. Some may choose to seek professional help, while others lean on friends to help them get them through tougher times. Though there may be special circumstances to allow students that have a lower GPA due to mental illness to participate in the rushing process, it’s important to focus on possible repercussions for the individuals who may not get accepted. For the same reasons these individuals seek out the organization, the feelings of solitude they experience from getting rejected by the group can persist—thus allowing the cycle to continue. 

There is a range of options that can be established to ensure the quality of college life for an individual experiencing a mental health issue. A set action plan regarding students with mental illness to join Greek life should be considered, especially in regard to the coping process following their experience. Whether or not one gets accepted, and despite the wonderful opportunities joining an organization can bring, both options necessitate struggles that the individual has to go through.