Peggy Totten Sexton, our longest-serving board member, is stepping down from Families for Depression Awareness’ Board of Directors. Peggy has held a seat on the Board since FFDA’s inception in 2001. Although Peggy is leaving this role behind, she says, “Families for Depression Awareness will always be close to my heart.”
Julie Totten, FFDA founder and former executive director, recruited her mother Peggy to participate in the new nonprofit upon its incorporation in 2001. The suicide death of Mark, Peggy’s son and Julie’s brother, was the original impetus for founding the organization.
There are many myths surrounding suicide. Folk wisdom holds that winter is the most common time for suicides, with depression exacerbated by cold, dark weather. Another myth suggests that suicides spike around the holidays, when people struggling with depression feel left out of the cultural cheer that the holidays force upon them.
In fact, studies since the late 1800s show that suicides in our hemisphere peak in the spring and are lowest in winter (although greater variation seems to be emerging). A 1995 study published in the Social Science & Medicine journal found that, in 25 out of 28 countries in the Northern Hemisphere, suicides were most common in May.
Families for Depression Awareness joins with millions of people in mourning the death and honoring the life of actress Patty Duke, who died at age 69 on March 29, 2016.
Although well known as an Academy Award winning actress and television star, Patty Duke’s greatest impact may have been the role she played as a tireless champion for mental health issues throughout her life.
A Message from Marlin
Prior to coming to Families for Depression Awareness (FFDA), I spent over twenty-five years in the public affairs, political advocacy, and public relations business. Countless visits to Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, and to state capitols from Massachusetts to California taught me that legislators and policy makers want – and need – to hear from people who are affected by the issues they are deliberating and deciding.
This spring, we are embarking on a new effort to erase stigma, empower family caregivers, and educate the general public on mood disorders. Our Spring 2016 webinars will include “lived experience” storytellers—caregivers and people with mood disorders telling their personal stories as part of our webinars on teen depression, bipolar disorder, and depression in adults. So, in addition to our expert clinicians, these people will provide their unique points of view and take questions live from the audience.
Lived experience matters because it resonates with us more than theories, statistics, and diagnoses on a piece of paper. When you hear someone's lived experience, you know that mood disorders affect real people.
We’re just a few weeks into 2016 and we’ve already seen several noteworthy stories in the field of mental health and wellness.
This week, the United States Preventive Services Task Force issued important guidelines recommending pre- and post-partum depression screenings in the United States. These new guidelines will assist in addressing the growing issue of depression in pregnant women and new mothers. This coincides with an upcoming series on maternal mental health on our advocacy blog, Care for Your Mind. Watch for several stories, beginning on February 16, and join the conversation.
I have always loved language, and I wholeheartedly believe in the power of adjectives. They capture emotion like nothing else. Even so, though, few words show just how crippling depression really is. To be sure, “difficult” is a gross understatement.
I’m a senior in high school, and I have big plans. College, work, independence—the typical goals, I suppose, of an American teenager. People tell me that I’m going places, that my generation is destined to do amazing things. To many, that’s encouragement. To me, that’s pressure.
As we are moving into 2016, a lot of folks are making resolutions for the year ahead. Lose weight, quit smoking, join a gym, eat healthier are all typical items on the resolution list – the focus tends to be on making our physical health better over the next 366 days. (We get an extra day to do good things for ourselves next year!)
Combined Effort Brings Mental Health and Addiction Issues to the Forefront
Families for Depression Awareness proudly announces our official affiliation with the NOW Campaign, a national movement to make addressing mental health and addiction one of the top priorities in politics, policy, and business. With the approaching presidential election year, FFDA agrees that now is the time to build this grassroots movement to drive solutions to the problems in our systems of care for mental health and addiction.
December 2015 marks my sixth month at Families for Depression Awareness. I’ve learned a great deal about this organization and the work we do everyday. I’ve met families who are utilizing our resources and services to help their loved ones dealing with depression or bipolar disorder and, in turn, helping other families.