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A Conversation with Hope for Depression Research Foundation Founder Audrey Gruss

On Tuesday, Nov. 10th Caron will be honored with the HOPE Award for our leadership in the field of integrated treatment of behavioral health disorders and addiction at the Ninth Annual HOPE Luncheon Seminar. In advance of the event, we sat down with Hope for Depression Research Foundation’s (HDRF) Founder and Chair Audrey Gruss to talk about her organization:

The name of your organization is Hope for Depression Research Foundation (HDRF). From your perspective, how has the mental health landscape changed in the past 10 years and what gives you hope today?

Eight years ago, I don't think people mentioned the word depression. I don't think it was top of mind because nobody put it there. Yet depression is the leading cause of disease burden. Millions struggle with major depression around the world, and it is the leading cause of disability globally.

Today, it is gratifying to see growing media awareness of the issue and to know that HDRF has been on the forefront. This year marks our Ninth Annual Luncheon Seminar. It’s a highly visible forum for useful public discussion about mental health. I’m proud we've put depression front and foremost in a lot of people's minds.

Now, we can speak openly about depression, where we would have been embarrassed or a little afraid to do that. There's so much less misinformation, so much more knowledge. Even the familiarity with the word and the ability to say it is a starting point on getting more and more info out there, correcting the fears of anything to do with the brain and mind.

Caron is thrilled to be honored by your organization. Why do you feel it’s important to recognize others in the behavioral health field?

Collaboration and recognition are an important part of any field, any human endeavor. At HDRF we have two goals: to drive science forward, and to raise public awareness. We educate and inform in order to remove the stigma of depression. This in turn advances the cause of research. By recognizing other organizations who are on the cutting-edge of this field, we shine a light on a critical frontier of medicine – the mind and brain.

Families with a depressed loved-one may struggle with feelings of isolation and being misunderstood by extended family and friends. What would you say to a family in that position?

My mother Hope suffered from depression for most of her late adult life. My sisters, father, and I witnessed decades of misdiagnosis, trials of medication, troublesome side effects, and the psychic pain and life-sapping loss of energy that is a mark of clinical depression.

Depression is an incredibly hard situation for anyone, whether you are the person suffering, or whether you are a family member or friend. It’s important to know what to say, and how to help. We will be launching a Public Service Announcement on this topic tomorrow, and our website has a lot of helpful advice and resources.