The Yale Layer, the first undergraduate publication dedicated to mental health, launched its first issue this semester and followed up with a second issue in November.
According to Anna Hope Emerson ’20, president of the Yale Layer, the publication has already reached 3,200 individual readers since it was approved as an official Yale organization this September.
After writing about her mental health experiences in a News op-ed earlier this year, Emerson said she received feedback from a large number of students who thanked her for bringing attention to issues of mental health. As students started to share their own experiences with Emerson, she said she recognized a need for “increased conversation around mental health and wellness” at Yale.
“This publication could turn into an incredible outlet for students of all kinds to share their stories in a way that [is] both creative and supportive,” the Yale Layer’s editor in chief, Sabrina Bustamante ’20, told the News.
Although the Yale Layer is primarily a platform for students to share their own experiences with mental health, the publication also lists mental health resources available for students at Yale.
The outreach coordinator for the Yale Layer, Sita Strother ’20, described the publication as a tool to combat the stigma surrounding mental health at Yale by “arming students with the knowledge that they are not alone.”
“The fast pace of our lives at Yale doesn’t always allow time for self-care, self-reflection or seeking help,” Strother said.
Acknowledging that everyone’s experiences with mental health are different, Emerson said the goal of the publication is to “prompt conversation about mental health at Yale in a healthy way.”
Bustamente added that Yale’s culture of perfection makes vulnerability seem “abnormal.” She argued that mental health issues exist on a spectrum for every student, describing wellness as a standard that all students should strive for, not just those who are struggling.
According to Strother, the publication focuses largely on the feeling of being alone and emphasizes that everyone at Yale has someone they can count on.
“If one person reads a story in our publication which helps them realize that they are not alone, then we’ve succeeded as an organization,” Emerson said.
The Yale Layer Board wants to publish three editions of the publication over the course of the spring semester. By doing so, Emerson said, board members hope to create a forum and outlet for students to voice their stresses and struggles. She added that the board seeks to make the publication a space where people can be “vulnerable” — a space where it is acceptable to not be perfect.
According to Bustamente, the next issue will come out at the beginning of the spring semester. There are plans to have specialized issues for Black History Month, as well as Yale’s LGBTQ+ month, Bustamente said.
“I hope that students will come to understand and appreciate the vast diversity of the Yale experience and come to feel that we should allow ourselves to be vulnerable and should share our burdens with the Yale community,” she added. “We want the Layer community to be a space for healing and honesty.”
Grace Kang | firstname.lastname@example.org