Depression is something I’ve grappled with since I was a kid, but never talked about. It felt shameful, like something I needed to hide. My depressed mind would say, “If people find out you have depression, they’ll judge you, dislike you, and you’ll end up more alone and even sadder than you were to begin with.” It seemed logical at the time.

Then we had new University of Minnesota President Joan Gabel on my show, The Theater of Public Policy. When I asked her about the University’s biggest challenge, she immediately went to mental health. She explained that experts estimate that as many as half of university students will have a mental health challenge at some point during their time in school.

Half? I dug more into the numbers and was dismayed to find that, when it comes to mental health, things have been steadily getting worse. It’s an issue that touches virtually every community and family, sometimes with deadly consequences.

Not talking about this clearly isn’t working for anyone. So I decided to go public with my own struggles with depression in the hope that sharing my experiences might help others do the same. I don’t have a solution to my own or anyone else’s mental health challenges, but I know we’re much more likely to figure them out together. But that will only happen if we can openly talk about them.

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In his monologue, Tane mentions that farmers are among the highest numbers of suicides nationally – and One Greater Minnesota reporter Kaomi Goetz explored that issue, along with the fact that farmers are often reticent to seek help, in “Mental Health Concerns Are on the Rise in Farm Country.”

Discover one Minnesota family’s story in coping with a history of mental illness and how, more than anything, that story revolves around hope.