Welcome to the Front Porch
Imagine sitting in a rocking chair on the front porch of a friend's house on a warm afternoon. The porch provides shade from the sun, and a cool breeze moves gently across your face. Your friend invites you to talk about whatever is on your mind. While you are talking, other activities go on briskly in the neighborhood, but you hardly notice. The conversation is the only thing that matters. Your friend is actively listening to you.
When I was growing up in one of the older midtown neighborhoods in Memphis, my family lived in a house with a wide front porch. The porch was a place to gather with my friends, to view what was going on in the neighborhood, and to find shelter on rainy days.
My best friend lived a few houses away. I could see her house from my front porch. She had a beautiful smile and a gifted mind, especially in science and mathematics. We spent many hours together during our primary school years. We rode bikes, played games, and went to sleepovers with our friends. After high school, we chose different colleges and drifted apart.
Years later, I was surprised to hear that my friend had developed a serious mental illness. Nothing in my childhood memory rendered even the slightest warning. Were there any early signs, and if so, how could I have missed them?
Since then, as a professional counselor, I know the multiple signs and symptoms of depression and anxiety. I think it is helpful that we first acknowledge the prevalence of depression and anxiety in our society.
For example, are you aware of the following statistics?
For these reasons and many others, we want to help reduce the stigma attached to mental illness by providing information that might prevent major depression or anxiety in someone's life. At Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare, we have a Front Porch waiting for you in the form of the Dennis H. Jones Living Well Network. It is a virtual front porch where you can relax, connect with someone, learn about depression and anxiety, and get in touch with resources and tools to help you on life's journey. Please take a few moments to explore what the Front Porch has to offer.
The Living Well Front Porch was created by the vision of the Dennis H. Jones family from Germantown, Tennessee. When you go to the website, look for the "About Us" section. Read about the life and death of Dennis H. Jones and the inspiring way that his family responded to tragedy. While you are there, explore the Twelve Pathways, the assessment tools, the videos, and other valuable links and services.
Now and then, everyone has a bad day, but ongoing depression and anxiety can lead to more serious problems. Fortunately, there are many ways to navigate depression and anxiety. You already have the Methodist Healthcare Employee Assistance Program (EAP), where you can sit down with a professional who will actively listen to you, and who will help you manage the circumstances of your life. And now, you also have the Living Well Front Porch to explore and to seek help. Perhaps someone in your family or neighborhood is suffering from depression or anxiety. If so, you have a place to find some answers to your questions. And you have a place where your friend can visit and call for more help.
As always, we encourage you to call the Methodist Healthcare EAP at 901-683-5658 for confidential counseling and support. You, and now your friends, don't have to go through it alone. We are here to help.
Author: Dr. Myra Bennett, D. Min, LCPT, is the Coordinator of the Living Well Network. She has been an EAP Counselor at Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare for the past twenty years. Prior to her work in the EAP, she served as a board-certified chaplain in addiction services and a pastor of United Methodist churches in West Tennessee.