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DVD Sheds Light On Depression Among Kids

BOSTON (WBZ-TV) ― A local teen who has struggled with depression is reaching out to parents to help them better understand children who suffer with the mental illness.

Mike Haas, 18, shares his and his family's stories of how they coped with his ongoing depression in a DVD called "Depression: True Stories."

The DVD, produced by Blake Works, premiered at the State House Forum on Wednesday. It was co-hosted by Rep. Ruth Balser and Sen. Gale Candaras, who co-chair the Legislatures Joint Committee on Mental Health and Substance Abuse.

The film aims to shed light on the illness that often goes untreated and to reduce the stigma that goes along with it.

Experts say talking to teenagers about their mental health is important but that listening is key.

"Parents need to be really good listeners," said Dr. Paula Rauch of Massachusetts General Hospital. "Sometimes as parents we feel we should be imparting information. When it comes to a child's feelings, they know best how they feel and we need to be really good listeners."

According to a 2005 Massachusetts Department of Public Health survey, 27 percent of teens surveyed reported feeling sad or hopeless for two or more weeks in the prior 12 months, and 13 percent had seriously considered suicide. Six percent had attempted suicide. More than 2 million American teens experienced major depression last year, and less than half received treatment.

Policy makers, advocates, educators and public health officials attended Wednesday's premiere at the State House.

The DVD "Depression: True Stories is available at www.wordscanwork.com.

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