Diplomatic Congress hosts panel discussion on mental health, wellness at F&M

By Noah Sunshine || Senior Staff Writer

     Last Tuesday, February 17, the Diplomatic Congress (DipCon) hosted a forum to discuss issues of mental health and wellness on campus. Grace Jeong ’15, chair of DipCon’s Student Health and Safety Committee, and Colleen Gallagher ’16, chair of DipCon’s Academic Life Committee, jointly produced the event.

     This year, the Franklin and Marshall Diplomatic Congress has focused a significant portion of their efforts as a student organization into creating events designed to channel student concerns and campus zeitgeist through a series of forums on controversial issues.  These forums, taking place in the college houses, have included administrators, professors, professional staff, and student leaders in presentations conducive to questions and open discussion.

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     “We intended for the forum to identify issues surrounding mental health and academic stress, and then point students towards existing forms of help or find a way for new resources to be created,” Gallagher said.

     The forum, hosted in Ware College House, filled the Great Room to capacity, leaving some to stand near the doorway to listen.  Students of all classes, including student leaders from DipCon as well as administrators and professors that were not on the panel, attended. Some students became very emotional during the
presentation.

     “I think mental health is too often considered taboo, so when we create a space for students to talk about it, I understand it can be very moving,” said Mark T. Harmon-Vaught ’15, president of DipCon.

     The crowd and panel were both very receptive to these students, allowing them to take their time to speak their concerns; unfortunately, the time allotted for the forum was not enough to hear everyone’s input.

     “I want to follow up with further discussions that include more faculty to discuss both mental health and student preparedness, to create a complete solution for the F&M community,” Harmon-Vaught said.

     “This conversation needs to keep happening until it is clear students are facing an actual problem,” an attendee of the event said.

     Students are appreciative of the opportunity to speak about topical issues the college is facing, but this forum illustrates a continuing issue with the format: Students speak and are heard, but often the panel, composed of administrators and student leaders, are not given adequate opportunities to respond, or decline.

     The next forum is entitled “Breaking the Bubble” and focuses on how students can become involved in the Lancaster community, to be held Tuesday, March 10th, during the Uncommon Hour.

Senior Noah Sunshine is a contributing writer. His email is nsunshin@fandm.edu. Photos by Senior Editor Scott Onigman. 

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