Dear fellow Sacred Activists: I have a heavy heart and many tears I am shedding this morning. I am crying for my beloved country. My heart is aching for all those who sacrificed so much in service to a just and civil society, and continue to do so. I pray that those who are currently in power in South Africa will pause as they mourn our beloved Madiba, and remember that he transformed from freedom fighter and enemy to a revered leader who sought reconciliation. Mandela was arrested after being found by a CIA agent. My great-uncle (by marriage) Bram Fischer, was Mandela’s attorney during his trial. I remember as a child seeing Robben Island and learning of the prison that held many who are now famous and a number who have died. During my political activism I came to know people who had served at “the university” as it was called. Colleagues and friends would just disappear without explanation. When they ended up on Robben Island they would be part of conversations orchestrated by the leaders incarcerated there. And then, on being released, would teach those of us working in townships and squatter camps, trade unions and community organizations, giving us word of what the leadership’s plans were. Each and every one of their legacies lives on. In South Africa during that time we were not allowed to have images of Nelson Mandela. Possession of the Freedom Charter that became the most progressive constitution on the planet was grounds for being imprisoned without trial. We were all imprisoned by the draconian system, even the most privileged, even those who never saw the inside of a cell. When I left South Africa in 1986 during a State of Emergency, and into political exile, I never imagined that in my lifetime Mandela would be released. I never imagined I would ever be able to return to South Africa. I never imagined that my mixed race daughter would have children who could be friends with children of different colors and cultures. I never imagined that South Africa would ever be embraced by the rest of Africa because it had always been such a pariah in the eyes of the rest of the continent. I never imagined that the world would support the change we all fought for and made huge sacrifices for – my imagination was limited by the oppression I grew up in. One never knows how the tides of change will shift the sands. One never knows how orchestrated insignificant acts can create a crescendo of change such as was experienced in my homeland. There have been rare moments in my life, as a 5th generation white South African, that I have felt proud to have that legacy. Today, my pride is mixed with a depth of grief because I am not there on South African soil, to be caught up in the crowds of mourners honoring and remembering. As South Africa moves towards a presidential election, may we all pray that the current leaders remember that power is to be shared, not hoarded and used to corrupt. In solidarity with all around the globe who mourn with me. Lyndall Hare
Did you know 1 in 9 kids attempt suicide prior to graduating high school, and that 40% of those kids are in grade school? (Journal of Adolescent Health via Family Matters, 2011). And that the number one autofill on google is ‘Hope makes me… depressed’? We don’t know exactly why, but what we do know is that the primary predictors of suicide include hopelessness and depression. (Association of Physicians, 2004).
The Good news? HOPE is teachable and depression is treatable? (Rand and Cheavens, 2008), It is true. Research suggests that Hope can be taught and that the greater the hope, the greater the level of well-being (Scioli, 2009). Hope is defined as the perceived ability to create pathways to a desired result, and the motivation to follow those pathways through to the desired result (Rand and Cheavens, 2008). Higher Hope corresponds to greater emotional and psychological well-being, greater academic performance, and enhanced personal relationships (Snyder, 2005).
With your help, we can bring a lesson plan of HOPE with activities to the classroom. Our goal is to raise $85,000 throughout December for this project through our Indiegogo campaign, and then to spend January and February creating the research-based curriculum to launch in ten test schools in April of 2014. Our goal is then to take the finalized curriculum global in 2015.
Our Overall Vision for Schools for Hope:
Our aim is to expand on our Field for Hope project that cultivates Hope through seeing through a planting of sunflowers; from seed to flower and back to seed. With your help we aim to take this project further and share messages and symbols of hope with others; creating curriculum around the planting specifically to teach Hope to children. And then to nurture Hope and through peer to peer support to teach this to the next classroom.
- Engaging children through a 360° support and wisdom sharing system—peer-to-peer, teachers, counselors/psychologists and parents.
- Partnering with mental health education experts, curriculum will be targeted, self-paced and ready to implement into school systems.
- Leverage online and new social mobile application technology to implement the program. Content will be engaging and inspirational and delivered on a relevant youth-oriented platform.
- Integrate a yearly sunflower planting symbolic of HOPE in the Spring, writing messages of Hope to those that then harvest the seeds in the fall, starting the infinite spiral for Hope.
- Garner research through metrics analysis, evaluation and optimization.
- Pilot in Chicago schools; adapt to deploy tailored program focused in PTSD and tragedy to those areas as needed. (i.e. Sandy Hook, Columbine, Oklahoma, etc.)
Please help us make this campaign a success! With your generous donation of time, brain power, and/or contacts we can get this moving. Hope is teachable, depression is treatable. Let’s help make ALL kids feel value and like there is always a way to resolve problems in a positive, productive way.
Please visit www.schoolsforhope.org and help us make this project a reality.
As I sit here at a crowded Starbucks in sunny Geneva Switzerland, preparing for the meeting tomorrow at the headquarters of the World Health Organization, I marvel at how far we have come in the field of mental health since my father’s suicide over 20 years ago. In those days, we looked upon suicide as a poor choice a person made and simply did not talk about it. Today, while we still have a long way to go, we are starting to understand that it is more than a choice; it is a complicated combination of life circumstances, chemical processes of the brain, genetics, and childhood trauma.
Last year I had the privilege of attending the discussion of the ground breaking resolution for the UN to make global mental health a priority throughout the world with a proposed Global Mental Health Action Plan. On May 27th, 2013 the World Health Assembly adopted the “Comprehensive Mental Health Action Plan 2013-2020“, putting the world on notice that mental health must be a priority. I have the honor of attending the WHO follow-up conference tomorrow October 7th, during Global Mental Health week, to hear across the globe how member states and affiliated organizations are going to put the plan into action.
In 2004 when I began my work to end the stigma of depression through rebranding, less than 25% were receiving treatment leaving a full 75% of the world population untreated. Last year, the World Health Organization statistics reported that the number untreated is now 50%, so while progress might not be evident it is improving. These statistics bring me joy and gratitude that the tireless work of the people in the field of mental health, creating awareness and bringing services to the 350 million with depression, is not happening in vain.
That being said, there is much left to do. Depression is now the leading cause of disability worldwide, yet it is treatable. It is significantly underfunded and still highly stigmatized and there is much more to do to bring treatment numbers to 100%.
I encourage you to join us October 10th, Global Mental Health Day, to learn more about depression. Join us in watching the free, live Global Web Screening of Hidden Pictures, the first feature documentary on global mental health. Read and share information on mental health from organizations like Psyhcentral and Webmd with perspectives from both the medical profession and patients. Or take the pledge to plant a virtual sunflower, showing your solidarity in our movement to bring dignity and respect to those living with depression.
We recently learned that the 66th World Health Assembly has adopted the World Health Organization’s comprehensive mental health action plan (2013-2020). The action plan is the outcome of extensive global and regional consultations over the last year with a broad array of stakeholders including: 135 Member States; 60 WHO CCs and other academic centers; 76 NGOs and 17 other stakeholders and experts.
As one of the 76 contributing nonprofit organizations at the forum, we are proud to have played a role in the development of this Action Plan as we feel it is a critical step in the right direction of eradicating the stigma of depression and meeting the needs of the 350 million worldwide living with the disease.
As part of our ongoing efforts to be leaders and advocates for the disease, we plan to have International Foundation for Research and Education on Depression (iFred) representatives once again at the mhGAP Forum in October to discuss the launch of the plan and its implementation.
The four major objectives of the action plan are to:
- Strengthen effective leadership and governance for mental health.
- Provide comprehensive, integrated and responsive mental health and social care services in community-based settings.
- Implement strategies for promotion and prevention in mental health.
- Strengthen information systems, evidence and research for mental health.
We look forward to continuing collaboration with WHO representatives and working towards solutions that will give hope to millions living with depression.
For more information about the Action Plan click here.
I recently came across this video of Kevin Breel speaking to a group of people at a recent TED-X conference and was blown away by his poignant account of what it’s been like living with depression and his hopes for a future without stigma.
As you may remember from my earlier posts, I lost my father when I was Kevin’s age to suicide and I consider myself a depression survivor. It is through the sharing of these stories and personal accounts that I believe we will be able to shine a light of HOPE for the 350 million worldwide living with depression.
I hope you’ll take 11 minutes to watch this video of Kevin. If you live with depression, someone in your life lives with depression, or you don’t think you know anyone living with depression – you need to watch this video. It will be well worth your time.
Watch Kevin’s video here: http://www.causes.com/causes/101854/updates/793004
Americans across the country are getting ready to celebrate the 4th of July holiday tomorrow, a holiday all about the human spirit and a renewal of #HOPE. So it seemed like a fitting time to bring you our first Story from the Field, stories about the people we have had the honor and privilege to meet through the Field for Hope campaign. These narratives, pictures and videos are our way of helping spark positive conversations around depression and mental health in order to help chip away at the negative stigma surrounding the disease.
Earlier this year we met Tim Kahlor at the PRISM Awards in Los Angeles, an annual awards show that honors TV, movie, music, DVD and comic book entertainment that accurately depict mental health issues. Tim’s son Ryan is a military veteran who lives with Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). We asked Tim to share his incredible story with us to help kick off our Stories from the Field series.
Contributed by Tim Kahlor
Ryan joined the military in 2002 when he was 18-years-old on a delayed entry program so he could get his braces off his teeth before basic training. He was promised a $12,000 sign-on bonus and told he would be stationed in Germany. We’d sent him to Europe when he was in high school and he loved it. Ryan was always an adventurous kid and loved playing sports; the thought of being paid to keep in shape was his dream job. The military offered him adventure, the ability to work out and stay in shape, all while seeing the world.
He left for basic training on March 18, 2003, the day before the war in Iraq started. Ryan was a member of the 1st Armored Division based out of Baumholder, Germany, and was being sent to Holenfeld, Germany, to a non-deployable unit. However when they offered him rank quicker and no tax on his combat pay if he went to Iraq, he accepted the offer. In 2003 Ryan served as an Infantryman in Bagdad, guarding the green zone and then was later sent out on missions in other areas. There was a lot of action, but it was the next deployment that caused the most damage to Ryan. When we saw him next in 2004 he was friendly, but guarded.
Ryan was married in December of 2005 and deployed to Iraq again in January 2006. That November Ryan endured many struggles, as he was involved in several horrible firefights leaving him to handle many of the dead and wounded. During his two deployments Ryan received repeated injuries to his head and body, including a Traumatic Brain Injury. When he returned to the U.S. they finally sent him to Balboa Naval Hospital in San Diego to be part of the Wounded Warrior Project for Army members who are injured in combat. There, Ryan’s PTSD really began to erupt, resulting in fighting and explosive yelling. One day I found him rolled up in a ball in the middle of the living room. Ryan was sent to Palo Alto’s in-patient program for PTSD at the VA hospital there. Which I believe, to this day, is still the best program I’ve seen Ryan come out of since 2007 for dealing with PTSD.
When your child is killed in combat the pain of war is over for the soldier or marine, but continues on for their family. When your child lives through combat and comes home with PTSD the mental war of combat is brought from the battlefield into the living room, kitchen, bedroom and to the surrounding community. Ryan was the poster child in 2007 and 2008 for getting and responding to PTSD treatment, but there are always going to be relapses no matter how well treatment has served in addressing the problem. That is the hardest part to get through; the rough times that disillude the thought that the struggle is over after everything seems to be going so well. My family has found that being willing to listen to him when he wants to talk about it and always letting him know I am there for him is one of the most helpful things we can do. I don’t ask questions unless he opens a door that will allow me to ask a questions. There are people that think you can “shake it out of them” or “tell them some story about a cousin, uncle or buddy they knew that was in combat” or the guy that says “you got to pull yourself up by the bootstraps and get on with your life” (my response to that one is ‘what if the boot straps are already broken?’) Then you have the people who want you to explain why there is more PTSD now than in past wars. I ignore things like the above and celebrate Ryan’s success; I often text him about how proud I am of what he is doing.
Ryan just finished a semester of college with great grades and we celebrated it as a family going out to dinner. This is major because in the past he couldn’t sit in a classroom long enough to finish a semester. We set goals and plans for future outings together that I know Ryan enjoys. Last summer, Ryan and his wife Hannah took me to Yosemite camping and it was like heaven for us all. I saw the joy in my son’s face taking me someplace that I loved and he loved it too. This year we already have a trip planned at the Kern River and Yosemite hiking the whole time and playing in the river. Ryan teaches surfing and kayaking to wounded warriors during the summer, so we encourage him to keep doing that when he can as well as cycling.
It is so important that families don’t forget to find time to get help for themselves and the knowledge to help a loved one suffering from PTSD. They should always be aware of signs of isolation and frustration to be readily to supportive. Families dealing with a loved one with PTSD should remember that there will be good days and bad days, and you have to hope that the good days get longer and the bad days get shorter.
Tim’s story exhibits one main and powerful fact: being open and honest about the reality of PTSD can enable our sons, daughters, fathers, brothers, sisters, mothers, and friends to hold their heads up high, walk around unashamed and seek treatment in spite of the stigma. This example further promotes the belief that above all we must love, care, support and advocate on behalf of our loved ones living with conditions like PTSD and depression. Liberate yourself and your loved ones by taking a stand and joining us in the cause to end the negative stigma associated with the disease. Speak out, volunteer, contribute and help us build a community. Take the Pledge to Plant, spread the word and join iFred in honoring the 350 million around the world living with depression.
When someone suffers from depression the effects ripple out to those they love.
I can still remember the moment. As I was getting ready for an upcoming weekend visit to see my dad, I called to see how he was doing. I knew something was terribly wrong when I heard a voice that wasn’t his. My mother took the receiver and told me the news that would forever change my life. My dad had taken his life.
My father was a successful businessman, but his pain was no mystery to me. He had resisted treatment because he did not want to admit to weakness in character. I cannot accurately describe in words the deep sense of abandonment, betrayal and total loss of self I felt when he died. I believe that, had he sought help earlier, he might well still be alive today.
Just weeks before he died he sent me a Valentine’s Day card telling me how much he loved me. How he hoped I would never have to deal with the pain, deep regret and unhappiness he felt all the time. I carry the card with me as a reminder of his pain. It serves as my fuel to change the world for the better as a way to honor his life.
Depression is treatable, yet less than 25% of those with depression are getting treatment in part because of the stigma associated with the disease. This misunderstanding about depression is what prevented my father from getting treatment. As a branding expert, I know that by doing the following we can and will end the stigma of depression.
1. Use a universal symbol, the sunflower, around the world showcasing just how many are working for positive progress.
2. Engage celebrities, politicians, business leaders and activists to talk about their own depression
3. Bring awareness of the biology of depression, and how our neurotransmitters, hormones, and brain chemistry are affected by everything we put in our body.
4. Focus on hope for those suffering from depression, instead of the negative depictions of depressed people that are often present in the media.
It is in this light I bring you Field for Hope. This global campaign asks people to come together and Pledge to Plant a sunflower to show honor and respect for the 350 million people around the world who live with depression. They need our help.
My dad had it all and did not deserve or need to die. Do not let one more life be wasted. Pledge to Plant. Join our movement today at Causes.com/FieldforHope or visit www.ifred.org to find out how you can get help for yourself or someone you love.