Sometimes it can feel like making real progress in mental health (and perhaps especially suicide prevention) is an overwhelming, sometimes impossible task. How can we counter the “bigness” of the job? Dr. Barbara Van Dahlen, founder of Give an Hour, gives this advice: Go Simple. Offer simple actions, like donating an hour weekly. Play to individual’s strengths, and build big change by harnessing the collective power of many individual’s “small” contributions. Give an Hour’s Campaign to Change Direction use this same strategy. “The Five Signs” help create a common language, and everyday way to talk about mental health in a way all people can relate. In this podcast, Barbara talks about some of the ways Give an Hour and Campaign to Change Direction gives individuals, workplaces, cities and states tools to make incremental changes that lead to big, positive change. Give an Hour began with a simple idea (provide free mental health services to Veterans, service members, and their families). But though its origins and methods may be simple, its goal is to bring about a fundamental shift: empower each of us to recognize and respond to emotional/mental suffering just as knowledgably and compassionately as physical.
Earlier this summer I called Dave and hit the record button. What followed was a chance to look forward into the future of suicide prevention based on 30 years of work and research in our chosen field of suicide prevention. Listening to Dave you can get the sense that we are on the cusp of dramatic changes in how we treat the individuals in our care.