During the month of April, Give an Hour is celebrating our volunteers. They are the backbone of our organization and we could not serve those in need without them. We are featuring different volunteers and their reasons for giving back in a blog series this month. Please enjoy the second blog below.
Have you ever heard the proverb, “necessity is the mother of invention?” That statement couldn’t be more true for Bob Stead. As a foster parent, Bob was having trouble locating a therapist who could provide the kind of care his foster kids needed. So, he took matters into his own hands and decided to go back to school to become the mental health professional he couldn’t find.
As someone who experienced his own share of mental health battles when he left the Army, Bob is passionate about advocating for the normalization of mental health. It’s not a four-letter word, after all. He firmly believes the more people talk openly and honestly about mental health, the easier it will be to remove associated labels and stigma. Don’t be afraid to speak up. Trust that you are not alone.
By not discussing your struggles with a trusted friend or professional, it’s easy to become isolated and have no connection to anyone or anything and this, Bob said, can create opportunities for suicide. It’s okay – and very normal – to say, “I am struggling.” The more you speak up, the more people start to pay attention. It’s okay to need community, support and awareness of your feelings. Just start talking and having conversations with your family and friends.
“We are who we are, regardless of belief systems. Your experiences don’t lessen you or make you less than others,” said Bob. “I’m no different than the next person because of my struggles. My issue is PTSD but yours might be anxiety or depression. We’re all in the same boat.”
Bob encourages consistent mental health “check-ins.” He likens it to going to the dentist every six months. Why not have regular mental health visits where you can learn coping strategies and develop relationships. When you need them, you’re ahead of the game! He believes it’s much better to have someone in your corner when you don’t need them. “Don’t wait until you’re in a crisis,” he said. “Make sure you have a person. Because sometimes having a person is enough to prevent suicide.”
As a licensed provider for Give an Hour and an Army veteran, Bob is able to offer a level of ease to our military and veteran clients. While his experience may not be exactly the same, he certainly can understand their perspective and considers anyone in uniform a brother or sister.
Bob’s role as an ambassador finds him championing the Give an Hour mission and said his volunteer work with the organization is a labor of love.
And if you know Bob, you may get to meet his new love, Rocky. Rocky is a 6-month-old, German shepherd/Belgian Malinois who is undergoing service dog training and will soon join Bob in his office on the daily.