This Volunteer Spotlight Story originally appeared in AFSP’s 2021 Annual Report. To read other inspiring Volunteer Spotlight Stories, and learn more about our exciting work, click here.
Do you have a personal connection to the cause?
As a teen, I experienced depression and a cloud of darkness that felt overwhelming at times. I felt alone in that journey of finding my way towards the world’s light. Luckily, I was able to get help. As an adult, working as a social worker in a mental health setting, I lost a colleague to suicide. It made me realize that suicide can affect anyone – even a mental health provider may struggle. That’s why it’s so important to be there for other people and make it easy for those in distress to reach out for help.
Is there any particular way you feel your involvement with AFSP has made an impact?
I joined AFSP’s South Carolina chapter board in 2015 after being a walker and volunteer. I have served as chapter president for the last few years. I came to AFSP because I wanted to be part of an experience that balanced honoring those we’ve lost with supporting suicide loss survivors and those who struggle, and infusing that work with hope.
In my role as Program Director for the South Carolina Department of Mental Health’s Office of Suicide Prevention, I’ve been working on building suicide prevention programming across the state. I’ve made it my mission to help bring AFSP’s Interactive Screening Program to South Carolina. ISP is wonderful in that it provides individuals with an online platform where they can reach out anonymously, receive one-on-one connection and validation from a program counselor, and be connected to the level of resource or care they need in that moment. ISP is a screener, a lifesaver, a lifeline, an encourager, a hope builder, a connector, and an opportunity.
ISP fosters connection. To me, that’s the secret sauce.
What does the phrase #MentalHealth4All mean to you?
I believe we are all wonderfully human. We are all vulnerable to having darkness overwhelm our ability to cope on any given day. I believe we are made to need each other and support individual journeys. The phrase #MentalHealth4All is a call to action encouraging advocacy for access to appropriate and better care, but also to speak up when we are concerned about someone, or when we ourselves are in need of support. It’s about the opportunity to unify and collectively heal through connection and equity. I feel less alone knowing we have the same heart and mission.