LTC Partners Focuses on Mental Health Awareness as Part of Distinguished Speakers Series
Portsmouth, NH: LTC Partners (LTCP) kicked off its 2018 Distinguished Speaker Series on February 22, hosting former Chief Justice John T. Broderick Jr., who spoke to employees about mental health awareness and recognizing the signs of mental illness.
Justice Broderick, having served as chief justice on the New Hampshire Supreme Court from 2004 until 2010, now acts as the senior director of public affairs for Dartmouth-Hitchcock. In that role, he leads its R.E.A.C.T. Awareness Campaign, which is geared toward encouraging conversation about mental illness, changing prevailing attitudes surrounding the subject, and providing students, parents, and professionals throughout New Hampshire with tips to deal with signs of emotional suffering and resources for support and help.
Speaking candidly to the employees about his own family's experiences, Broderick shared an account of his son Christian's struggle with mental illness, and the consequences that arose from a collective failure to correctly diagnose his condition as such for more than a decade. Following a number of stints in rehab for what was assumed to be an alcohol problem, Christian was temporarily banned from his household due in part to the advice of counselors. One night in 2002, shortly after being allowed to resume residence with his parents, Christian brutally attacked his father in his sleep.
Christian served three years in state prison for the assault. It was during his time in prison that he was ultimately diagnosed with mental illness by the prison psychiatrist. Following proper treatment and medication, Christian was able to make amends with his father and, eventually, to attain a full recovery.
"In the end it was mental illness" that led to the incident, according to Broderick, adding that he and his wife had missed the signs, and Christian's use of alcohol was not the true problem, but rather a symptom—a form of self-medication for severe depression and anxiety that he had been suffering from for years.
"My son suffered all those years," he said. "He has taught me a lot about mental illness and the danger of ignorance. My ignorance did a lot of damage, but we have repaired it."
According to Broderick, who underwent multiple surgeries during the course of his own recovery from the incident, society needs to focus on changing the stigma associated with mental illness, and the key is dialogue. "We need to talk to younger kids about it, normalize it. Try not to conceal it. The best thing we can do is talk about it," he said.
Change Direction, a national organization dedicated to changing the culture surrounding mental illness, identifies five signs that an individual may be emotionally suffering:
- Their personality changes.
- They seem uncharacteristically angry, anxious, agitated, or moody.
- They withdraw or isolate themselves from other people.
- They stop taking care of themselves and may engage in risky behavior.
- They seem overcome with hopelessness and overwhelmed by their circumstances.
Other Distinguished Speaker Series guests LTCP has hosted over the last 12 months include Governor Chris Sununu and Commander Jason Weed and crew members from the USS New Hampshire, a Virginia-class nuclear submarine.
Click here to learn more about Dartmouth-Hitchcock's R.E.A.C.T. Awareness Campaign.