From the Campaign Chairs: Jim and Teri Phillips
When a family member was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, Jim and Teri Phillips found themselves searching for answers. Face It cofounder Mark Meier had exactly what they were looking for — caring, compassion, and most of all, time.
“I called him an explained our situation, and I swear, the next day he met with Jim and me and we spent three hours together,” Teri says.
“He dropped everything to meet with us,” Jim continues. “This was in the early days of our exposure to bipolar disorder and dealing with mental health issues, and he was almost like a lighthouse for us. He was knowledgeable, he was credible, and he had a heart. He gave us as much time as we needed. It was incredible.”
But Meier wasn’t through helping the Phillips family.
“On Thanksgiving Day that same year, we were in crisis again,” Teri recalls. “Mark was on a trip, but he helped us out for an hour or so on the phone, giving us ideas on how to handle it and talking us off the ledge.”
Jim and Teri wanted to repay Meier’s kindness. They helped organize fundraisers for Face It. Jim, a corporate financial executive, connected the group with potential donors in the business community. Finally, Jim joined the Face It Foundation board of directors as a way of maximizing his support for the organization’s mission.
“We believe in what they’re doing, and we put our time and our treasure behind them,” Jim says. “It’s the peer-group connection. It’s guys who have suffered with depression and have been able to turn it around and manage it instead of it managing them. Now they’re in a position to help other guys through that same transition. It can be done — these guys have done it, and they reach out a helping hand to bring other guys through it.”
Teri, a stay-at-home mom who homeschooled their kids before “retiring” to a life of volunteer work, says the personal touch provided by Meier and fellow cofounder Bill Dehkes makes all the difference.
“I can text Bill or Mark at any time of the day to tell them I’ve got someone who wants to meet with them, somebody who needs help, and they’ll always follow through,” Teri says. “And it’s not a call center, it’s not a help line. You get to talk to a person, and it’s not just a clinician. It’s somebody who’s been there and really understands depression and what it means to go through it. So how can you not get behind two guys and an organization like that? They really care.”
Jim says the focus on men’s issues makes Face It unique, and uniquely important.
“Women always talk about their problems and are able to process them together, and there’s a real value to that, but guys don’t do that,” Jim says. “Guys don’t talk. We don’t share. We were raised on ‘macho talk’ –- being a man, you’ve got to keep it to yourself. Mark and Bill have pushed through that. There’s a huge need, and they seem to have cracked the code with the peer group counseling, and having a center and the access is an important step.”