Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Crisis Line

People often tell me I’m lucky to do work that makes a difference. I don’t take the opportunity for granted. In fact, I’ve never had a job I felt was meaningless.

Earlier in my career, as a television medical reporter, I received letters from people telling me that a report I did on colon cancer, heart disease, or HIV motivated action on their part, and may have saved their life. Twenty years later I can still remember some of those gratifying letters.

Today, another unforgettable one. It was sent from a high school guidance counselor to Partners HealthCare in Boston. Partners – which includes Mass General Hospital – sponsored the distribution of our DVD, Depression: True Stories, and Words Can Work booklets to attendees at a State House Forum on Depression a few months ago. The guidance counselor writing the letter had received a complimentary copy.

Here’s what she wrote:
“I am writing to express my gratitude for providing [our high school] with the DVD Depression: True Stories. Having worked with two of the psychiatrists who contributed to the publication, I knew it would be a valuable resource for our students.

This week, the documentary was shown to the freshman class as part of a lesson on adolescent depression and suicide. I received overwhelming feedback from students, faculty and administrators. Students shared how helpful it was to learn about the symptoms of depression, and how they felt better able to support peers in crisis. This was evidenced by the number of students who came forward after the activity with concerns about the wellbeing of their friends.

One such case involved two girls who were very worried about a friend of theirs who had attempted suicide only two days earlier. With the comprehensive information and empowering message they received from the documentary, the girls felt able to come forward to seek desperately needed help for their friend. Our guidance staff was able to intervene and secure resources for this young man and his family.

Your kindness in providing our school with this documentary was instrumental in saving a young man’s life. I cannot thank you enough.”

Maureen M. Sanford, LICSW
Guidance Counselor

A response like this is why I get up in the morning. It’s why I continue to feel gratitude to our advisors, who generously gave their expertise to Depression: True Stories, and to sponsors whose donations get the DVD into the hands of people who are using it to help save lives.

Depression can be treated when people find out what to do and where to turn for help. Effective tools can set them on the path, and lead them in the right direction.

Depression: True Stories
Words Can Work: When Talking About Depression and Other Mental Health Disorders

Related Issues and Answers columns
Depression: A treatable disease
Preventing suicide

Related columns for young people


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