Out of the Shadows
Mental health symposium focuses on awareness
never planned on a career in mental health advocacy until one life-changing
day 10 years ago.
At 9 a.m. she was in her kitchen preparing for a holiday celebration.
At 9 p.m. she was asking the highway patrol to be on the lookout for
her 22-year old son who was experiencing an acute, psychotic episode.
"If I knew then what I know now about mental disabilities, I may
have been able to get help before we faced a crisis situation,"
said Ranahan, director of the College of Extended Learning's Mental
Health Education and Workforce Development Initiative.
Ranahan was the driving force behind the March symposium, "Promoting
Mental Health in Our Schools," sponsored by SFSU and KQED TV. More
than 500 educators, counselors and parents gathered at the South San
Francisco Conference Center to learn how to better recognize and manage
"We're seeing a lot of attention deficit disorder and anxiety among
our students," said attendee Amy Vandagriff, a resource teacher
at Foothill High School in Pleasanton. "It's great to be able to
students in high school and also prepare them for college life."
Attendee Nicole Cortichiato, a youth-outreach coordinator at Belmont's
Center for Independence for the Disabled, said the symposium was an
important reminder to "teach our children how to approach people
with [mental health] disabilities without fear, and to put the person
before the disability."
The symposium was made possible by support from such organizations as
The California Endowment, the Zellerbach Family Fund, and The California