It happens somewhat regularly that parents commend us for “saving their daughter’s life.” I have never realized the full magnitude of this comment. I regularly minimize these words and categorized them as a trite way of saying thank you. However, given the recent death of one of my favorite childhood entertainers this comment has taken on a new meaning and helped me to take another look at teen depression.
The news of Robin Williams’s passing has saddened me deeply. He was such a gifted actor, comedian, and from all accounts, a tremendously kind-hearted human being. It is a sad phenomenon that people who are so gifted, bright, and loving can also be filled with so much sadness and pain. How could someone with so much fame, fortune, and talent see only darkness? Unfortunately, depression cuts through socio-economic status, religiosity, gender, race, etc. One could say it is an equal opportunity affliction. The World Health Organization estimates that more than 350 million people of all ages suffer from depression. For so many, depression can find its place into their conscious and subconscious and render them devoid of hope and happiness. Taken to its extreme, depression cuts off life itself in horrible abruptness: men, women, and many adolescents who should be alive but are no longer with us.
The stigma that follows questions of mental health is lessening but we are far from where we need to be. It is my hope that society can collectively discontinue judgment and understand that teen depression is not a condition that can easily be willed or wished away. We must recognize there are millions of individuals like Robin Williams, who feel disheartened beyond description, and this condition is not a sign of personal weakness.
I am grateful for the work I am involved in and the team I am a part of. I am not sure how many lives have been saved due to the work we do at Sunrise Residential Treatment Center. However, it is wonderful to play a role in helping individuals overcome a condition that distorts their past, clouds their present, and blackens the future. I firmly believe our students’ experiences at Sunrise help them make peace with their past, thrive in the present, and move boldly into their futures.
– written by Corey Hickman, CTRS, Residential Director