Mark Meier, Executive Director
I founded Face It in 2009 for one simple reason: Collectively, we need to do a better job of helping men who battle depression.
For many reasons, it’s still difficult for men to acknowledge they are struggling with depression. Many won’t seek the help of a mental health professional. This leaves millions of men in pain, consumed by anger and fear. Far too often, they try to cope with their depression by drinking, using drugs, having extramarital affairs, disconnecting from their families, and acting out in other reckless ways. The most recent data shows that in the U.S., we lose over 35,000 men to suicide annually, and this number is increasing every year. This has to change.
When I launched Face It, I knew men would be more inclined to open up about their struggles in the presence of other men who had dealt with similar problems. So whether I’m raising money to support our retreats, camping trips, monthly breakfast, trips to a Twins baseball game, or I am running one of our weekly support groups, I keep in mind the importance of connecting guys to one another in their mutual fight against depression.
I have my Master’s degree in social work. I’ve taught and lectured on depression to mental health professionals hundreds of times across the U.S. and I am on staff in the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health in the University of Minnesota’s School of Medicine. But I believe it’s my own experience with depression that has best positioned me to run Face It and help the men who come through our doors.
Back in 2002, with my wife at work and my three young children sound asleep, I sat with the barrel of a loaded gun in my mouth with every intention of ending my life. The never-ending pain, the constant voices in my head telling me what a failure I was, and a misguided belief that I would be doing those around me a favor by ending my life had led me to this point. Thankfully, the cries of my then nine-month-old daughter interrupted this very ill-conceived plan, giving me the chance to overcome my own depression and found Face It.
Bill Dehkes, Chief Operating Officer
As the COO of Face It, I wear many hats. One of my primary roles is to ensure that the services we offer—including our groups, breakfasts, and retreats—are sustainable. One of the pledges we’ve made at Face It is that individuals experiencing depression will never have to pay for our services, including one-on-one peer support calls, group meetings or outings. We have met far too many men who have had difficulty accessing the services they need due to an inability to pay or lack of insurance.
As COO, I work to identify funding sources for our services, complete grant requests, and ensure the financial viability of the organization. I also help to arrange paid speaking engagements, which generate funds that support our individual services for men. I also work in lock-step with Mark to develop future offerings.
My journey with the development of Face It began in 2007. It was Mental Health Sunday at my church, and Mark Meier came to describe his experience with depression. I had known Mark for over 20 years, and was married to his first cousin, but I had no idea that he battled depression and had attempted suicide. After Mark finished his talk, I approached him and said “An hour ago I wasn’t even sure depression was real. But you just told my story, too.”
I had struggled with depression and anxiety for years. But after Mental Health Sunday, I had a new understanding of what I was dealing with. Mark asked me if I wanted to help him get Face It off the ground, and I didn’t hesitate to roll up my sleeves and jump in with both feet.