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When Michael Drake took over as CEO at the last company he worked for, his predecessor handed him a list of the “Ten Golden Rules for CEOS.” At the bottom was a handwritten message, “…and always remember: ‘Mens sana in corpore sano!’” It’s Latin for ‘a sound mind in a sound body.’ He says the wisdom it holds for him is “you can’t separate the health of the body from the health of the mind.”
“It’s common in our culture to talk about obesity and other issues associated with physical health. It’s less common to talk freely about mental health problems like depression,” says Drake. “But depression and suicide affect one in four people in our community. Nearly everyone is dealing with or has a co-worker, friend or family member dealing with some very difficult issues.”
Fortunately, there are resources like the Dennis H. Jones Living Well Network, a partnership that serves those suffering from anxiety, depression, risky drinking or suicidal thoughts or those seeking to help someone who may be struggling with one or more of these conditions. Through a comprehensive website and a phone number answered by healthcare professionals that assess the problem and connect callers to appropriate resources, the Living Well Network strives to do just what its name proclaims—help people live well.
It’s a resource that wasn’t available to Dennis Jones. Dennis took his life in December 2009 after years of suffering with depression in silence. Unaware of his struggle until his death, his wife, Debbie, wanted a meaningful way to honor his memory. She spoke with her pastor at Germantown Methodist Church, and together they approached the Center of Excellence in Faith and Health at Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare in hopes of creating a program to help those suffering from similar, related conditions. With a generous gift from Debbie, the Dennis H. Jones Living Well Network began its work in March 2012.
Drake says, "Like me, Dennis was in the technology industry. He suffered from problems that no one else saw—but problems that I, and countless others in our community, can relate to. My grandmother committed suicide, and several other people in my family struggle with depression. Just like I’m predisposed to heart disease, I’m predisposed to mental illness.”
“I’m passionate about the Living Well Network. It gives people a very safe place to go to seek counsel and to find a way through whatever they're dealing with. The more people know, the more they can help themselves and others. And the more each of us can keep a sound mind in a sound body.”
Michael Drake is founder, chairman and CEO of masterIT and spokesperson for the Dennis H. Jones Living Well Network.