Have you ever felt lonely, desperate or isolated? Have you ever felt like no one understands you, like there’s nowhere to go? If so, you are not alone.
Join us on Tuesday at Mount Nittany Middle School for a “Straight Talk for Parents and Caregivers” session. The featured program, open to all community members, is “Body Language: Talking It Through.” The educational performance will bring area students to the stage to address depression, anxiety and social issues that can complicate their lives and the lives of their families and friends.
At some point in their lives, nearly one in four Americans will live with depression, with women twice as likely as men to experience depression and its consequences. The problem has become acute among America’s teens. At any given time, more than 8 percent of adolescents in the United States suffer from serious depression, with suicide the third leading cause of death for 15- to 24-year-olds and the second-leading cause for 24- to 35-year-olds.
The Centre Region is not immune. The 2011 Pennsylvania Youth Study found that among sixth- to 12th-graders in Centre County, 24 percent reported that over the past year they “felt depressed or sad most days.” And the Centre County Coroner’s office reports that there are 13 to 16 suicides each year in the county, with a high of 19 in 2012.
To complicate matters, depression often manifests itself along with related problems such as eating disorders, cutting, substance abuse and suicidal thoughts. And despite the high success rate with available treatments, almost two out of three people suffering from depression do not actively seek help.
Signs that indicate someone may be struggling with depression include a combination of moodiness, diminished interest in friends and activities, loss of energy or increased fatigue, feelings of worthlessness or hopelessness, inappropriate guilt, difficulty concentrating or making decisions, and/or thoughts of death or suicide attempts.
Recognizing and acknowledging these signs can be the first step in helping someone to heal. If you sense that a loved one or friend might be struggling with depression, don’t wait to see what happens. There are ways you can step up to help a friend in need:
• Ask them how you can help.
• Listen to them.
• Tell them there is hope. Tell them that they are not alone. Tell them there are people who can and will help.
• Help them get help if they need it. Centre County Can Help, 800-643-5432, may be a good place to start.
Everything begins with a story, and with the “Talking It Through” performance, the stories will come from our children. Through drama and dance, area students will highlight both the fragility and the power of the human spirit, and important and meaningful stories of truth, hope and healing will be told. The performance will be followed by a community conversation on depression and mental health. State College Area School District staff and counselors will be available to answer questions and provide support and information.
Be part of positive change in our community. Be part of “Talking It Through.”
Albert A. Vicere is professor of strategic leadership at the Smeal College of Business at Penn State and a board member at the Jana Marie Foundation. Susan B. Russell is associate professor of Theater and the 2014-15 Penn State Laureate. Kikora Franklin is associate professor of theater at Penn State. This weekly column is a collaboration of Centre County Communities that Care serving Bald Eagle, Bellefonte, Penns Valley and Philipsburg-Osceola area school districts, and Care Partnership: Centre Region Communities that Care serving the State College Area School District.