Two epidemics have swept across America. First, the coronavirus pandemic and now, an epidemic of depression, according to Boston University’s School of Public Health.
“Individuals come to us not realizing they are suffering from clinical depression,” said Jasmine McGary. “Are they feeling the ‘blues’ or is it bipolar disorder and depression?”
McGary is a licensed professional counselor (LPC) and program director for re:MIND, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization that provides support groups for individuals living with or affected by depression and bipolar disorders. She spoke to more than 30 Rotary members at their weekly meeting via Zoom Oct. 7.
re:MIND is one of 10 Lake Houston-area not-for-profit organizations that are receiving financial gifts from the Humble Rotary Club. Each year, the club distributes checks to organizations that apply for the funds and are vetted by club members.
The group originally formed in 1979 as the Depressive Manic Disorder Association of Greater Houston. They changed their name to the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance Greater Houston in 2003, and finally to re:MIND in 2017.
In 2005, re:MIND had five support groups at five locations. In 2020, before the COVID-19 pandemic, McGary told the Rotarians that re:MIND had grown to 60 support groups at 50 locations, mostly churches.
“We provide our service where people live, in Fort Bend, Harris and Montgomery counties,” she said. “The Kingwood group has been very popular and attracts participants from throughout Houston.”
Licensed mental health professionals lead each support group, McGary said, and can be assisted by professionally trained participants from the group. There are three major groups – adolescents, ages 13 to 17, experiencing symptoms of depression or bipolar disorder; adults 18 or older experiencing the same symptoms; and seniors ages 65 and older.
Those three groups can further be partitioned into specific groups including family members, friends, caregivers, support person, the LGBT community, the homeless, individuals in prison, and those who are medically uninsured and underinsured.
“We found that our support groups work best when individuals attend groups with people just like themselves,” McGary said. “There is a stigma and anxiety when you put yourself out there and say you need help. It’s not easy.”
With the pandemic underway, McGary said re:MIND facilitators are conducting classes online.
“They include no more than 15 people and our satisfaction rates remain high,” McGary said, “but we miss getting together in person and we’re ready to open up our in-person groups again.”
The re:MIND classes get high marks from those who participate. McGary says the most recent survey included 421 individuals from 59 support groups. The average was 4.24 out of a 5-point rating.
Individuals can take a quiz on the re:MIND webpage to see if a support group is right for them. Those interested in attending a support group can go online and enter their ZIP code.
“The groups are confidential and free,” McGary told the Rotarians. “When groups are in person, there’s no need to register. Just show up. As long as we’re virtual, however, interested persons should go to our webpage and register for an online group at remindsupport.org.
In addition to their webpage, McGary said re:MIND has a Facebook page, is on Twitter and Instagram and has helpful videos on their YouTube channel.
The Humble club is participating in Operation Turkey on Thanksgiving Day, according to Club President Mike Kevlin. The club is looking for volunteers and donations to fund meals that allow Rotary clubs throughout Houston to host Thanksgiving dinner for the homeless and the needy.
The Humble Rotary Club also is looking for “… lots of kids to participate in the Rotary Youth Exchange program,” according to member Susan Brodbeck. Rotary is hosting Zoom meetings to explain the three exchange programs – virtual cultural exchanges, short-term exchanges that last from six to eight weeks, and the yearlong international exchange program.
Interested students and families can learn more about the exchange program at ryehouston.com.
The Rotary Club of Humble continues to meet virtually on Wednesdays at noon. The Summer Creek Satellite Club meets virtually on the second and fourth Tuesdays at 8 a.m. To learn more about the advantages of being a Rotarian, visit humblerotary.com.