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GROTON — Like heart disease or cancer, little by little, people are opening up, breaking the silence around the subject of mental health, realizing that it affects a great many people.

In 2009, Steve and Deb Boczenowski, with their daughter, Stephanie, lost their son, her brother, Jeffrey, who suffered from anxiety and depression for many years. In his memory, and in order to help others dealing with similar situations, the Boczenowski family began a nonprofit organization now known as TADS — Teenage Anxiety & Depression Solutions.

TADS is led by a group of people local to Groton, who actively advocate for mental wellness for young people. The mission of TADS is to raise awareness about mental health issues in society, especially depression and anxiety, and in so doing, help to prevent suicide.

Screening for Mental Health partners with TADS in providing suicide prevention curriculum at the middle-school and high-school levels to address this nationally-recognized, evidence-based issue.

TADS seeks to augment education about mental health and to provide access to care for those in need of it. The best way to prevent suicide, said Boczenowski, is through the early recognition and treatment of depression and other psychiatric illnesses. TADS concentrates its efforts on advocacy, funding for school-based suicide prevention and mental health education programs, and enabling community-based services. More recently, TADS has developed relationships with several local communities’ town governments and school committees, and has created additional opportunities to bring resources directly to those in need.

TADS hosted an educational seminar at the Groton Country Club on Tuesday, March 24, partially sponsored by the Groton-Pepperell Rotary Club. Presenters provided a health curriculum to over 60 guests (primarily educators) from all over Massachusetts, with the main topic — Suicide Prevention Training (S.O.S. “Signs of Suicide” training.) It highlighted the signs teachers should look for in those suffering with anxiety, depression and suicidal tendencies. The seminar also addressed ways for educators to teach students to look for the same signs in their peers, providing them with confidential adult contacts with whom to share their concerns.

Among upcoming TADS events is a presentation titled, “Teen Health, Depression, Suicide: Creating Communities of Awareness and Support,” sponsored by the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) on Wednesday, April 8, at the Double Tree Hotel in Milford, from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Boczenowski will be presenting, “A life unfulfilled: Losing my son to suicide,” and will also be serving on a panel discussion.

One key organization with which TADS is affiliated is the MSPP (Mass. School of Professional Psychology) INTERFACE Referral Service, which maintains a confidential, free mental health and wellness referral help line, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., at 617-332-3666 ext. 1411 or 888-244-6843 ext. 1411). Callers are matched with licensed mental health providers from an extensive database. Each referral meets the location, insurance and specialty needs of the caller.

For information, visit the TADS website, www.tadsma.org, or find it on Facebook and Twitter.

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