8.20.2008

Suicide on college campuses and thinking about long-term career options

I am taking a break from packing for Israel to tell you to read this. It doesn't surprise me. I only hope that colleges are starting to deal with this problem in a responsible way, through providing adequate (or better!) medical and mental health care, rather than trying to immediately kick anyone out who might have any mental health problems due to liability concerns. During my five years in college (a story for another time, I suppose), I saw the university shift in some positive and some negative ways, both towards more fear of liability but also towards a heartier array of helpful resources for students, and more interest in publicizing those resources.

Anyone who wants to read more on the topic can start with College of the Overwhelmed, by Richard Kadison and Theresa Foy DiGeronimo. I know Richard Kadison and was interviewed for the book.

I was very active in mental health advocacy in college, mostly on behalf of students to deans, advisers, and other university staff. I also worked on reducing stigma in the student population, and served as an informal resource for a lot of students who wanted to seek help for their mental health concerns and didn't know where to turn. I really miss that work. It was the first public speaking that I ever felt comfortable with. I thought that I might make a career out of it at one point, but I didn't get the one job that I applied for in that field, so, instead, I ended up doing something else for the last five years. (I did get an interview, though, which felt promising at the time.)

Part of me still feels drawn to some kind of career in public health/urban planning/environmentalism/anti-domestic violence. I don't know exactly how all of those things intersect in my brain, but they do, in interesting ways. For me, it basically boils down to this: People should live in environments (both macro and micro) that support their full potential as human beings and that allow them to be supportive members of larger communities, while engaging their minds and bodies fully, and in a way that is sustainable in the long term. That's the life that I want to lead and that I want everyone around me to lead. Now, how can we make that happen? I know it's a tall order, but I think it has to do both with how people interact on a micro level and how cities are designed and built on a macro level. Who gets to think and learn and write about this stuff, and how can I sign up?

I worry, sometimes, about getting fully sucked up into the wonderful world of Jewish learning, and setting aside all of these other nascent interests that I have, that have not-very-much to do with gemara or halakhah.

1 comment:

mjg said...

Sorry, I'm just now catching up on your blog. If you think you might be interested in urban planning, take a look at the Feb. 8 issue of Science (as you can see, I'm even further behind on reading Science, than I am on reading your blog). It has several very interesting articles, at least I thought they were. You can read the abstracts online for free, and log in as me to read the articles, if you have no other convenient way to get them.