Woodley House is proud to be a Founding Partner of the new, national initiative, CHANGE DIRECTION that seeks to change the conversation about mental illness and mental health in America. As part of the collective effort , Woodley House joins 50 other campaign partners with our pledge to reach out to people to recognize the FIVE SIGNS OF SUFFERING that indicate that someone may be in emotional distress and needs help. They are:

  • Not feeling like yourself
  • Feeling agitated
  • Becoming withdrawn or isolated from others
  •  Not taking care of yourself (including poor sleep, diet, hygiene and risky behaviors)
  • Feeling totally hopeless and overwhelmed

CHANGE DIRECTION was initiated by Give An Hour, a nonprofit started by the dynamic psychologist Barbara Van Dahlen, PhD ten years ago to recruit therapists to ‘give an hour’ of therapy to a veteran in need. She realized that red tape and bureaucracy could deter someone from reaching out for help and wanted to do something to help. Give An Hour offers free mental health services to veterans and more than 7,000 therapists are participating in this incredible effort nation-wide.

One undeniable fact that surfaced over the past 10 years was the paralyzing affect of stigma on accessing mental health care.  No one spoke about mental illness or if they did, it was in whispered terms. Years ago, it was the same thing with cancer. People didn’t talk about it … in fact, sometimes it was known as the ‘c-word’!  And it was the same with HIV/AIDS. But we got over the reluctance to talk about it and started addressing the issues in real terms … and positive changes started to happen.

It’s now that time for mental illness. We have to begin the conversation so that people aren’t afraid to disclose that they have experienced depression, anxiety or bi-polar disease for fear of what people might say.  As the First Lady, Michelle Obama remarked at the launch of CHANGE DIRECTION on March 4th, “Mental health is just as vital as our physical health, so it’s time that we start treating it that way“.

The campaign was launched at the Newseum on March 4, 2015 with a series of panels on aspects of mental health, including the influence of mental illness on corporate America, importance of community service, and the thoughts of mental health experts from the American Psychiatric Association, American Psychological Association and the National Association of Social Workers. There were also moving and inspiring personal stories and a performance of “Lighthouse” by G.R.L.

A great beginning to an impressive campaign that Woodley House is proud to join.  Please see to find out more about this initiative … and start the conversation!