Content warning: This article discusses sexual assault and mental health.
Recently, Tufts Secrets has taken a dark turn. Looking through the thousands of Facebook posts on the crowd-sourced anonymous page, you’ll notice there are uplifting and hopeful secrets, ones that are quite silly, and unfortunately, a lot that are very upsetting. In the last week there has been a noticeable uptick in mental health related secrets, and 10 of the 23 secrets tagged with a content warning were posted in the last two weeks. It makes my heart hurt to read through the posts and to know that people are experiencing intense, personal struggles and feel like they don’t have any other outlets besides an anonymous Facebook page.
Let’s be real about the fact that no one is getting help directly from Tufts Secrets. In recent weeks, the page has generated a snowball effect where people are sharing their darkest struggles with no guaranteed path to resources, unless someone happens to offer direction in the comments. It’s a fair argument to say that the experience of sharing anonymously is cathartic, but what the majority of people really need is a way to find help or closure, and this process is different for everyone. A one-size-fits-all resource objectively will not be found in the comments of a Facebook post.
Posting anonymously can trivialize the struggles and experiences of students who are hurting because Tufts Secrets itself was originally a platform meant for mindless scrolling entertainment as a form of procrastination. Further, this type of sharing perpetuates the stigma of coming forward about sexual assault and keeps perpetrators hidden. Talking about mental health and sexual assault anonymously online is neither the only nor the best option for getting help. In this column, I’m not trying to normalize the idea of saying “just go get help,” because unfortunately not everyone has a strong support system or easy access to resources. However, there are multiple resources on campus that people can take advantage of.
A survey from the American Psychological Association notes that over 40% of college students experience some kind of mental health issue; anxiety and depression being the most common. One in four students at Tufts has been to Counseling and Mental Health Services. While it’s not the best place to find a long-term mental health professional due to being understaffed and having so many patients, they are able to refer you to counselors in the area that you can cultivate relationships with, in addition to having a counselor on-call. If you prefer to talk to someone anonymously, Ears for Peers is a hotline that can be called from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. Peers is trained to offer support or to just be a sounding board. The Center for Awareness, Resource and Education and the Office of Equal Opportunity are also resources you can reach out to in the case of sexual misconduct.
I strongly urge all of my peers that are hurting to take advantage of resources and to talk to your friends. It may be difficult to reach out, but know that you are not alone and our community is here to support you.