Doris Hutchins of Conway donated “Portraits of Resilience” by Daniel Jackson to the Faulkner County Library on Monday for Mental Health Awareness month, observed in May.
“I hope that [this book] will increase understanding and that [people] will be encouraged to seek treatment if they have not,” Hutchins told the Log Cabin.
More than 15 million Americans struggle with depression in a given year, and 40 million are affected by anxiety disorders, according to the book. These people often go unacknowledged.
The book — donated in honor and memory of her late Husband, Dr. Darrell Hutchins, PhD — depicts photos and stories of people who have coped with and overcome mental illness and other challenges.
"[This book] is in honor and memory of him," Doris said.
Darrell, a former professor of physics at the University of Central Arkansas and University of Arkansas at Little Rock, suffered from clinical depression throughout his life.
Though treatment deemed successful part of the time, the symptoms would resurface, affecting him and those close to him, Doris said.
“We were married for 45 years. I know what it’s like to live with someone who suffers from depression,” she said. “It definitely is a family disease. It affects the entire family.”
Her husband’s diagnosis and battle with depression, however, is only partially why she has become such an advocate for those with mental illness.
Doris is a psychotherapist with a masters in social work and is a member of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).
She has worked in psychiatry for many years and has seen people with many different mental disorders ranging from depression and anxiety to bipolarism and schizophrenia.
Doris said she believes that, even in today’s society, there is a stigma surrounding those with mental illness.
“[It’s] still a big problem because you can’t see a cast on their leg, or they’re not [relying] on a walker,” she said. “People don’t understand that they are sick; their brain is sick.”
Doris went on to say that like with other diseases such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease, mental illnesses can be, and in many instances are, fatal.
She says many young people's obituaries will often read that the individual committed suicide after succumbing to their mental illness.
Nevertheless, she said, she is hopeful for what the future holds regarding advancement in treatment.
“I probably won’t live long enough to see the amazing things they will be able to do and [the] treatments they will have for mental illness,” Doris said. “I think we have just scratched the surface.”
The book, "Portraits of Resilience," can be found on one of the Mental Health Awareness Month displays at the Faulkner County Library during the month of May.
The Conway chapter of NAMI meets on the fourth Monday of the month at 6:30 p.m. in Room 3-B on the first floor of the Conway Regional Medical Center Women's Center.
You can contact NAMI Arkansas at 800-844-0381. For emergencies dial 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.