I deeply appreciate the bind this professor at George Washington University found herself in while teaching a course about disability. Did she disclose her own challenge with depression to the class, and risk being stigmatized not only by her own students, but by fellow faculty? Perhaps even risk the future of her career? Thanks to classes like the one Abby Wilkerson describes in her article, we are making progress as a society in raising awareness about depression and the very real challenges it presents to those who suffer from its sometimes devastating effects. But as her very personal story shows, there is so much work ahead!
Professors are beginning to tell their stories, and to acknowledge what’s at stake for us in disclosing mental disability. Those in contingent positions (nontenured, nontenure track — now the majority of all faculty appointments in the United States) particularly fear the consequences of disclosure. They could be perceived differently, affecting student course evaluations or peer and administrator assessments, effects that are likely to be compounded for women, people of color, L.G.B.T., or older people. Fears of problems with health insurance are not unreasonable.