Dean of students details his own struggles as a youth

UC Berkeley Dean of Students Joseph Greenwell, associate vice chancellor of student affairs, put out a video this week that vividly underscores his empathy with students dealing with the pressures of academic life, and life in general. In it, he talks about his own struggles when he was young — with loneliness, his sexual identity and suicidal thoughts.

The video went up online as part of efforts by the campus, as the stressful finals period approaches, to raise awareness of mental health resources available. Greenwell says in the video that he kept his struggles to himself for a long time but started telling his story about two years ago to help spread the word about how common such issues are, and help others with similar challenges feel less isolated.

The date Jan. 18, 1986, looms big his his life, he says in the video. On that day — a day he calls pivotal in his life — he attempted suicide. “Clearly it didn’t happen,” he adds.

“In this video, I wanted to share my personal experiences, and how I was able to persevere,” Greenwell writes on the Dean of Students’ Mental Health Matters page, where the video is posted.

The campus also sent out messages encouraging students to make use of the resources, including: