Dist. 220 Schools Get Help in Fight against Depression Fight: Parent Says Depression Requires Direct Treatment like Any Illness

Article excerpt

Byline: Eric Peterson epeterson@dailyherald.com

In its ongoing aim to prevent further teen suicides, Barrington Unit District 220 is receiving both guidance and validation from some highly respected agencies.

Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University and the Skokie-based Cheryl T. Herman Foundation are lending their expertise to the district's and community's mental health programs.

From the fall of 2007 through August 2010, five Barrington High School students and two district staff members committed suicide.

The deaths sparked the creation of the group Help, Encouragement, Resources, Education, or HERE, to publicize and improve the community's mental health programs.

One of its major goals is to destigmatize depression and get help for it. The program's objectives and successes impressed Dr. John Zajecka, associate professor of psychiatry at Rush University Medical Center and a trustee of the Herman Foundation.

"It was refreshing to see the open-mindedness that was there," Zajecka said Wednesday.

The Herman Foundation, named after a Zajecka patient who battled both breast cancer and depression, supports education, diagnosis and treatment related to depression, bipolar disorders and related illnesses.

The foundation's executive director, Steve Murray, was well aware of the struggle the Barrington High School community was going through, having two daughters there himself. …