Suicide, depression, drug and alcohol abuse.
Those topics aren’t easy to talk about, even with someone in your family. Imagine trying to bring up these issues to someone you’ve just met.
These are the things that Gerald Mahone-Lewis talks about and deals with on a daily basis. Mahone-Lewis runs the Substance Abuse Resource Center on Central Texas College’s Killeen campus.
The center provides assessment, referral and short-term counseling and resources for students, employees and faculty looking for help.
In addition to helping those struggling with substance abuse, the center tackles a range of issues, from stress and anxiety management to depression and relationship issues.
Again, these are issues many might be reluctant to talk about, especially to a reporter who plans to write about it. But each time I’ve interviewed her, Mahone-Lewis has been nothing but open and informative.
In addition to her work with students at the center, Mahone-Lewis also helps organize several on-campus events, including Red Ribbon Week, to raise awareness about those difficult issues and get students thinking about the decisions they make and how those decisions impact their lives.
When I first met her during the college’s 2012 Red Ribbon Week, Mahone-Lewis’ goal was clear: To let students and employees know that help was available for them if they needed it, not just at CTC, but in the community as well.
“We want to get out as much information as we can,” she said. “We want them to be aware of what’s out there and where they can go to get help.”
By raising awareness and being an advocate and guide to get people the services they need, Mahone-Lewis is a wonderful example of how combining advocacy, information and action can make a difference.