Programs like LEAD seek to destigmatize depression

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Joe Smydo’s article about Robin Williams (“Depression: A Disease That Conceals Hope,” Aug. 13) is excellent. Robin Williams entertained us with humor and joy. Yet he was ill with the chronic diseases of depression and addiction.

Mr. Williams had a powerful impact and he leaves us with many lessons. We need to destigmatize addiction and depression. Thereby, we honor his legacy.

Chronic diseases present daily burdens. Persons with diabetes, heart disease or cancer hope to be surrounded with the love and empathy of family and friends. Persons with depression and addiction face their illness and the added burden of shame.

Inherent in being alive, we experience anxiety, disappointment, loss, stress and trauma. If overwhelmed, an individual may fall victim to a heart attack, addiction or depression. We are all vulnerable.

LEAD Pittsburgh was founded to destigmatize depression. LEAD was encouraged by esteemed advisory board member David Kupfer, M.D., who was concerned about student suicides, to focus on prevention and education. National research identified resilience skills as protective against depression and addiction.

In 2010 LEAD collaborated with universities to develop SCoRE (Student Curriculum on Resilience Education, www.scoreforcollege.org). In taking Score, young adults develop resilience skills and strengthen their capacity to adapt to transition and change.

Resilience is about hope, about seeing alternatives, about support systems. Score reaches thousands of students. Yet, it is not enough.

Programs that educate and teach prevention are vital. They honor the legacy of Robin Williams and other suicides who, in their hours of final despair, felt they had no recourse but to end their lives.

TONI MACPHERSON
Executive Director and Psychologist
LEAD Pittsburgh
Downtown

 


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