My Battle With Depression Made Me a More Effective Mediator

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susanhuntleySusan Huntley is a mediator who has suffered with depression. Read about how she is working on behalf of students in need of mental health services.

I was diagnosed with depression in 2011. As an attorney, I was overwhelmed by the long hours, stress and pressures of practicing law.  I knew I needed to make changes to be happy and healthy.

Determined to find another way to utilize my legal education but provide the work/life balance I needed, I became a mediator, focusing on disputes between parents and school districts regarding the provision of special education services to students. A couple of months into the job, I could not help but notice how many of my mediations involved children in need of mental health services.

It is important for a mediator to gain the trust of both parties. While it is essential to remain neutral, it goes a long way when the parties know that you understand and empathize with the motivations driving their positions. Having suffered with depression myself, I feel I have a greater understanding of the challenges that both parents and educators face when trying to help these students. I remember how hard it was on my family, friends and coworkers when I was depressed.

I applaud Families for Depression Awareness on its efforts to address depression in teens and to help parents and educators recognize, understand, and cope with what these teens are experiencing.

There certainly needs to be more dialogue about this issue and Families for Depression Awareness is playing a role in encouraging that dialogue.

Read more about teen depression and how adults can intervene

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