By 2014, a Spec’s employee (whom we’ll call Adam) had contributed to the development of Spec’s several models of behavioral health furniture. He enjoyed his job and was proud to be partaking in building furniture that contributes to the welfare of people in need. In December of that year, his mental-health interests became personal: their daughter’s school told Adam and his partner (whom we’ll call Ellen) that she wanted to harm herself.

Before that call, there had been unusual events, but no clear warnings. Their daughter was a competitive dancer, and her university plans centered on music and arts. But in August, she’d decided not to dance anymore, and in the fall, the straight-A student sometimes refused to go to school. Adam and Ellen had been worried and had tried to help her navigate through what they thought was a temporary feeling of not fitting in. They now know it was much worse.

Adam and Ellen took their daughter to a hospital emergency department, where, by law, she was booked into the child-adolescent intervention unit for 72 hours. She was released, but in the months after, she made six suicide attempts and was hospitalized eight times.

Desperately frightened, they got their daughter into a local mental health facility. Adam’s daughter underwent Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), a combination of individual psychotherapy and group work. And Adam and Ellen also got help, including tools to deepen bonds with their daughter, and support from a network of families with similar experiences.

Today, several years later, Adam’s daughter is 22 and doing college and university courses part-time. She still visits the facility periodically, while Adam works to share his knowledge with the broader community and helps Spec to design furniture that keeps patients as safe as possible and makes them feel more comfortable during stressful times.

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May is a Mental Health Awareness Month. If you are experiencing any mental health struggles, or know someone who does, know that you are not alone. Share your thoughts and feelings with someone you can trust, whether it’s a loved one or an anonymous local helpline.

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One of many resources available out there is the Sashbear Foundation. Join organizations like this to learn about the skills needed to reduce stress, increase empowerment, or better support your loved ones on their mental health journey.