This past Thursday (May 18th 2017) myself, Face It Co-Founder Bill Dehkes, Dan Foley (Face It Men’s Group Leader), and Michael Atkinson (Face It Men’s Group Leader) had the opportunity to present Real Men, Real Stories to over 100 mental health professionals and laypersons at the 2017 Hirsh Larkey Mental Health Conference. This event was hosted by Jewish Family Services of Milwaukee (JFS) and sponsored by the Charles E. Kubly Foundation and Aurora Health Care. I am going to be so bold as to assert…this event was amazing! The kind and professional people at JFS sure know how to put on a conference! I had the chance to work with Rachel Nelson (Director Clinical and Case Management Services), Donna Triplett (Vice President of Development and Communications), and John Yopps (President and CEO) from JFS and they absolutely understand the importance of addressing depression in men and they went to great lengths to see to the success of this event. So THANK YOU Rachel, Donna, and John for having us!
I think I can also speak for Dan and Michael when I say they learned a great deal about themselves as they presented a story about their journey with depression and I know I can say that they had a huge impact on the audience as they told their story. For many mental health professionals this presentation offers a unique opportunity to listen and ask questions directly to men who have dealt with depression and suicidal thoughts/attempts. One professional shared candidly with us that when she received a notice inviting her to attend the event, she was skeptical and thought quietly to herself, “I’ve heard this stuff before and men don’t get better.” After the event, this therapist went out of her way to not only personally thank Dan and Michael, but to also tell them (and her colleagues – brave woman!) they had renewed her spirit to work harder to help her clients.
There are so many brilliant and amazing stories of recovery out in our world and I am so honored when we get the chance to tell some of the stories that have come about as a result of Face It. Men far and near need to hear that even in the darkest of times in our life, recovery, peace, contentment, and happiness are possible. As Dan, Michael, and Bill shared the depths of their despair I watched as many in the audience felt their pain and showed their understanding with affirming nods. I knew the Face It guys were having a real impact as I also watched many dry their eyes and listen so intently that the room was filled with silence and nary a participant was on their phones. I also heard the laughter, witnessed the tears of joy, and felt the LOUD applause as each guy shared with them how they have moved forward toward a better place in their lives.
Stories often serve as a map…a map toward a better place. The stories Dan, Michael, and Bill shared are the maps they have created to find some peace in the face of the storm known as depression. If you follow their map, you might not get to where you want to be, but if you listen to how they created their maps, I bet you’ll find some tips to help you chart and navigate a new course in your life.