This time of year reminds me of the time I taught an introductory course in persuasion at a nearby university. I don’t know why, but a significant number of seniors filled out the roster. Challenging and fun at the same time, I kept my learning curve just ahead of my students. One day, mid semester, one of my students disappeared. He just didn’t show up at class. Being a senior, he needed the hours to graduate. His loss, I thought, and hoped he studied classmate’s notes for the exam. Weeks passed…final papers came….and my long-lost student showed up. Irritated, I put on my stern face and asked that he stay after class. Something, perhaps a guardian angel, stepped in and opened my eyes. “Are you ok? I’ve missed you. What’s been happening?” came from my mouth. “I’ve been in bed,” he said. “I’m scared. My dad thinks I’m going to graduate…he’s looking forward to coming. I can’t disappoint him.” “In bed…when did this start?” I asked. Then I heard the story…a trigger event. A year ago in February, his mother died. He hadn’t been to any of his classes. I continue to be grateful for the grace given to me at that moment…and knowledge. Let it be said that he got to a counselor and his father came for his graduation. There should be no shame in admitting depression, no shame in seeking help. Being knowledgeable about signs and symptoms of is a gift that you can share; with knowledge you can become an advocate for yourself and others. Mental health literacy is vital…it *can* save a life.
Published by Kathleen Hoffman, PhD
Kathleen is a health communications specialist with expertise in message development, tailoring, health literacy, quantitative (survey) and qualitative (focus groups, interviews) research. Kathleen believes in the power of health communication to extend health literacy and patient advocacy and is endeavoring to achieve this through blogging and tweeting as @drkdhoffman as well as participating in other social media venues. View all posts by Kathleen Hoffman, PhD