Due to the fact that I could not attend my own deliberation, I attended two other deliberations. The first deliberation I went to was called “Under Pressure: An Open Discussion on Mental Health.” This was run by one of Professor Babcock’s sections.
I liked the way that they had their debate organized and how they approached the topic. As I walked in, they were in business casual clothing, and kept the discussion moving, so they were able to complete the deliberation in the allotted time. Their major concern for this deliberation was how the Universities should approach the mental health needs of their students. When we started, and introduced ourselves and our personal stakes in the issue, the group was able to introduce their approaches when their turn came. Their approaches were Intervention, which valued safety; a Right to Privacy, which valued the student’s privacy and the University ethics; and Resources and Funding, which valued progress towards this issue.
I personally agreed with the first approach: Intervention. I learned in the debate that many people with mental health issues do not really want to open up to others about their issues. However, some actions that they listed for this option, which were giving students a trained counselor that can help them through their issues, informing RAs about their student’s mental health, and creating an online program similar to the other programs that we experienced through the first few weeks of school, SAFE and AWARE. I liked this approach as it seems to be the best option at least for this school. Although it infringes on the privacy of the student, I feel that having students go through an online module that is similar to SAFE and AWARE, as it would help the students learn about the signs of people with mental health issues, and how to help. As discussed in the deliberation, it may decrease the social stigma that surrounds the idea of having mental health issues. I found it interesting that some of the people who were leading the deliberation had some personal experience with mental health, and that they were willing to share their experiences with others. Other ideas that were brought up with this discussion were the Penn State service, called CAPS; intervention strategies, such as an anonymous service, or a hotline; and what would be considered an intervention.
Their second approach discussed the student’s right to privacy. It brought up some great points about how this is a very intimate topic and a student may not feel comfortable with opening up to a complete stranger about it. I know that I definitely would not want to. With this option, an action that was presented was letting the students be treated equally, without labeling them as a person with mental health issues. While I agree that this would help all students feel free and equal in the campus, I feel that this could lead to cases where a student may just snap and go become dangerous. I agree that we should not judge people immediately, but we should help the people that need it, even if they do not want it.
Their third approach delved into ideas about more research and funding to help support the services that help people with mental health issues. The point that help for mental illnesses is very expensive was brought up, and this led to a discussion about how many people can just stop going to these meetings, to save themselves, and their families the burden of paying these bills. We discussed budget cuts too. In many public universities, there are budget cuts occurring everywhere, especially for mental health centers. Even in PSU, the University Health Services building is so pretty, but it is understaffed. When I went there, due to a stomach bug, I had to wait a long time to be seen. I can not even imagine how people with mental health issue feel when they are waiting for help. One of the solutions that was discussed was a mini-thon that would benefit the mental health services in Universities.
At the end of the discussion, they hung up the notes taken, and reviewed each set of discussion questions, as well as the approaches. While we did not actually choose an option, we discussed the pros and cons of each approach, and how they would both help and hurt the students. I actually really enjoyed the deliberation, and was very interested in the topic.