I am applying for a PhD program abroad. In my application form there is a section saying "we understand that individual, family or community circumstances may have affected your previous academic record or educational experience, and that the materials you submit with your application may not be a full reflection of your potential for success in graduate school. If your education has been affected by such circumstances and you wish to provide a more detailed explanation about them, please respond below and use the space to share more about your experiences".
My previous department environment was not conducive to learning or research. As undergrads, we were encouraged to memorize rather than understanding, developing intuitions or solving problems. Whatever I have learnt, I learnt from the resources available on the internet e.g. OCW, YouTube etc. Only a couple of professors are involved in research. They are not at all helpful or encouraging. They always need to boost their ego, never ready to discuss anything, never ready to accept their mistakes if they made one. The teacher-student relationship is more like, dare I say, a master and slave type of relationship. These events have affected my academics and more importantly, affected me physically and psychologically. I had been suffering from chronic depression, started to fall sick very frequently and even had suicidal thoughts.
If I express my thoughts regarding these things would it affect my application? I can understand that if I bad mouth my department then the LORs that I got from the department become less valuable. I would really appreciate some advice.