By Peter Michaels, National Institute for Civil Discourse | June 3, 2013
The University of Arizona National Institute for Civil Discourse is joining forces with several other deliberative democracy groups around the country to spread the word about President Barack Obama's National Dialogue on Mental Health, announced June 3 at the White House.
Creating Community Solutions is a series of events around the country that will allow people to engage in dialogue and action on mental health issues. The effort is being led by the National Institute for Civil Discourse, AmericaSpeaks, Everday-Democracy, Deliberative Democracy Consortium, The National Issues Forum and the National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation, working in concert with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
"We are thrilled to have the opportunity to work with the other deliberative democracy groups on the issue of mental health, one of the most critical and misunderstood public issues we face," said Carolyn J. Lukensmeyer, executive director of the National Institute for Civil Discourse.
Creating Community Solutions will engage thousands of Americans in a range of settings: large scale deliberative events in 10 selected cities, large forums and online conversations. In addition, Americans can declare their intentions to hold local Community Solutions events and upload their outcomes as they are held, at www.creatingcommunitysolutions.org, a website maintained by the National Institute for Civil Discourse that is based in Tucson at the UA.
A toolkit of materials, including a discussion guide, information brief and an organizing guide, also will be available on the site.
In a number of lead cities, mayors have already begun working with deliberative democracy groups to plan large-scale events that will involve at least 300 people at each site.
At these events, a representative cross-section of the community will learn more about mental health issues and consider a range of options for supporting the mental health of young people. The lead sites include: Sacramento, Calif; Albuquerque, N.M.; Washington, D.C., Birmingham, Ala., Kansas City and others.
A link on www.creatingcommunitysolutions.org also will allow anyone to participate in an online conversation about mental illness, hosted by The Civic Commons. In these moderated forums, participants can identify actions to improve mental health in their families, schools and communities.