As part of the two-week Deliberation Nation event, I attended another deliberation which discussed the implications of mental health. While the topic was not the most interesting to me, I wanted to see how other students in Professor Hamilton’s classes were conducting their deliberations. Despite my initially low levels of interest in the topic, I left the deliberation with a better idea of mental health’s role on Penn State’s campus, as well as resources (as well as shortcomings) that I didn’t know our university even had.
The discussion took a few different approaches to tackle the issue. The one, however, which engaged the audience the most, was talking about the ways Penn State could incorporate psychological and mental health education into their own academic curricula. While some people were against the institution of mandatory coursework to teach mental health, I, along with others, were in support of replacing a general education requirement with a low-credit mandatory mental health awareness class, which would be taught by trained professionals and direct students to internal and external solutions to deal with issues. The main positives that I took from these types of solutions were their practicality, and their immense reach to a large portion of the university. Instituting such a class as a graduation requirement would severely decrease the amount of communication and logistic issues students have when dealing with their own mental health problems.
In the broad scope of things, the deliberation really showed me the value of voicing opinions in one’s community. The third pillar of the Schreyer Honors College stresses civic engagement, and I felt that the entire two-week span of Deliberation Nation really lent itself to allowing students to achieve that goal. The deliberation helped me learn about mental health in more ways than I expected, from an individual level to the university-wide level. It also gave me an idea of how a deliberation was to be conducted, and I took some of the positives and negatives from the event and tried my best to incorporate the good things into our own deliberation, which came only three days later. Experiencing a deliberation from both the audience as well as the driver’s seat really gave me the most immersive perspective of the event.