Carleton University’s Continued Mental Health Failures

For roughly two years I have been fighting to get my life back on track since trying to take my own life in the spring of 2020. Bipolar disorder (type 1), has not made this easy. At the time I was a graduate student in Sociology and Anthropology department at Carleton University.  I encountered several serious problems, the most glaring a lack mental health resources. It was incredibly frustrating and demoralizing to repeatedly request more time from the psychiatrist I was assigned only to have him dismiss my concerns and continue pushing my appointments further and further apart. It was impossible to develop the trust psychiatry requires to be successful. This lack of resources extended to professors and administrative staff who seemed at a loss and unable to provide guidance when I shared with them problems I had encountered, both before and after my suicide attempt.

I wanted to discuss these problems in detail with the people who might be a position to help. I wanted someone who would listen to my experiences and take my experiences seriously. I wanted something good to come from the problems I encountered. As an undergraduate student at Queen’s university, whether it was the Dean or Student Wellness Services Manager, on the two occasions where I encountered a serious problem, the people in charge took the time to sit down with me and listen. They gave me their undivided attention and when I left those meetings I legitimately believed that something good would come of it. They made me feel like I was mattered, which is the opposite of how I feel after interacting with Carleton University’s administration.

Following my attempt, I tried reaching out to my supervisor to discuss my experiences but was ignored. I gave this more time than I probably should have, but with covid busy having unprecedented effects on our lives I didn’t want to layer my own problems on an already difficult situation for many. After accepting that the individual I had most trusted in the department was not interested in listening or helping me, I thought I might have success reaching out to the Dean of graduate studies. I was wrong, I was ignored again. I reached out to the President’s office and for 6 months I told by various assistants (via email) that they were “working on it” until the 26th of May when I received this response from the Provost’s assistant,

Good morning Philippe,

Thank you for your patience.  We wanted to ensure that we were thorough in our review of your case prior to responding to you so I apologize for not keeping you up to date on a more consistent basis.  

We understand that  a number of teams have been in communication with you regarding your experience at Carleton and have acknowledged the challenges that you have outlined in your posts and in the messages that you have shared with our colleagues.  The Provost has also reviewed these communications and we as a team now consider your case closed as there are no other decisions to be made regarding your former studies at Carleton.

At this time, the Provost would like to wish you the best for your future studies and career.

John Nelson  

Executive Assistant

Office of the Provost and Vice-President (Academic)

How is this acceptable?

Part of me is still hoping that someone at Carleton will decide to treat this situation with the seriousness it deserves. I also can’t help but wonder how differently this would have turned out had someone sat down with me 2 years ago to talk through this.

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