Submitted by Bedford Youth and Family Services
Each January, we recognize and consider the works civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. His name has become synonymous with quietly standing up for one’s beliefs and forging change. What many people don’t realize is that MLK fought his own demons – namely depression.
People who worked with Dr. King have told the stories of his depression. His demeanor went from ebullient to morose; he was constantly exhausted, and often worried that the civil rights movement would fail. Some historians point to the intense stress he was under as the reason for his depression.
However, mental health experts suggest that stress later in life does not explain the suicide attempts he made as a youth or the periods of hospitalizations he had for being “exhausted.” Historians now surmise that he struggled, undiagnosed, with depression for many years. The very fact that many people are not aware of Dr. King’s history point to the stigma associated with depression.
We’ve come a long way since then towards reducing the shame surrounding depression but must continue to work towards making talk about mental health as straightforward and open as is talk about physical health. With that in mind, Bedford Youth and Family Services has resources you can share with family and friends, including a mental health screening at their website www.bedfordma.gov/youth under the screenings section.