Discussing the future of health care
What happens when you allow a room full of interested minds to get together and discuss the current state of the U.S. health care system? After a year of grassroots efforts and community organizing, Saturday's Revisioning Health Care Summit finally brought this multifaceted issue to our campus! Faculty members and community organizations highlighted the interconnected ways health and health care is related to the economy, food justice, individual health and barriers to accessing health care.
As UP's TOLCS group led a dialogue and deliberation of undergraduates, graduate students, faculty and community members to digest the summit information and clarify priorities, a new vision for health and health care was formed on this campus.
The day's deliberation voiced the group's interest in the "bigger picture" of health including not just medical treatments but also lifestyle choices in a system that is paying health care providers to treat rather than prevent illness. Improving such a system was thought to begin with individual choices in supporting sustainable food systems and lifestyle choices, while educating others in the community on health and advocating for a better health care system. Interconnected systems shed light on the realization that each individual must be a positive model for health, become involved in political action to change policy and become an advocate in order to teach others about health care issues. I could not be more proud of the people who showed up to spend their Saturday focusing on this pressing issue. I will graduate UP a little more relieved that more advocates are out there forcing discussion, educating and becoming more active in political action!
Raise awareness for mental health issues
Mental health issues are common occurrences that are nothing to be ashamed of, and yet there is such a negative stigma against them that they remain misunderstood and largely ignored.
Think about it: As a college community, we have many events that discuss a wide variety of issues, everything from child soldiers in Uganda and sex trafficking to abortion discussion panels and the like. But how often are there events or discussions that shed light on mental health issues such as anxiety or depression? Aside from occasional small Peer Health Educator events, not very often.
Mental health issues arise as a normal part of life and affect many people, including college students. These people are no less comparable to everyone around them aside from these challenges they face mentally.
However, in this society people seem to believe the opposite, a false opinion that those with mental health struggles are beneath others who are "healthy." This is why we need to change the way we think as a whole, to shatter this notion and increase awareness that mental health is a natural occurrence. Perhaps then, people would be willing to seek treatment without feeling ashamed or judged.
One of the hardest things for those experiencing these issues is the feeling that they're the only ones fighting this battle. In raising awareness, we can help those who live with these issues heal in a supportive environment where they know are not alone. Increasing understanding is key to increasing acceptance, and that's why I would encourage the Health Center to consider hosting more events related to mental health awareness. Whether it be in the form of awareness events or support groups for those living with these issues, anything to help increase understanding will help to ease these struggles in the long run.