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Woody Allen Doesn't Need You and Nine Other Reasons NOT to Give to William James College

You've heard about the Campaign for William James College. Maybe you've been asked to give. But you're not sure giving is for you, at least not at this time. With today's busy lifestyle of many competing priorities —for your time, money, and talent—it's remarkable you're reading these words now. Listen, if you're choosing between spending your money on a nutritious meal or investing in William James College, please (please!) take care of your needs! But if you're not giving because you don't think it matters, then, well (clears throat), you're wrong.

1. Nothing about William James College's work touches my life.

Mental illness touches all of us, in different and complex ways. Sometimes it's on the news, sometimes at the office, sometimes in our children's classroom or on the playground.

Everyone who suffers deserves a better life. You may not be aware of the men, women, and children you know—friends and family alike—who need or are receiving mental health care, but the number of those suffering with a variety of issues, including depression, stress, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, attention deficit disorders, and many more problems is growing. Children often have trouble learning because they are preoccupied with what's going on at home. Adults in the workplace often fail because of emotional problems that drain all their energy and attention. More than 25% of our veterans return from war with invisible wounds of anxiety, depression, insomnia, and post-traumatic stress. Children of deployed military families experience 5-times more behavioral problems than those of their non-military peers. No one is immune.

2. I don't care about William James College.

You'd probably care if you knew about our many programs for special groups like recently returned veterans, children and their families who spend months unsuccessfully trying to access a mental health provider, new moms struggling with post-partum anxiety and depression, refugees recovering from being witness to wartime atrocities, and more. William James College is a leader in developing innovative programs that respond to the mental health needs of populations that don't get the attention and services they need.

Depression is the #1 cause of disability worldwide. Depression is estimated to cause 200 million lost workdays each year at a cost to employers of about $35 billion per year. People with serious mental illness have a 24-year shorter lifespan than their peers. Suicide will claim one American every 13 minutes, and 12 times that number will make an attempt each day. These are just some of the reasons we hope you join with us in caring about William James College.

3. I can't afford to give.

Everyone can give. Any amount enhances people's lives and provides you with a satisfying sense of making a difference, getting involved, and showing that you responded to others' needs. One generous donor gives us the number of dollars of her birthday every year. Now, if you have to give up food or shelter to donate, that's another story, in which case you should call our resource and referral helpline at 617-332-3666 x 1411.

4. I give to other causes that matter to me.

That's great. Wouldn't it be terrific if everyone contributed to the organizations they appreciate and admire? But neither the Symphony nor your favorite hospital are the only causes deserving of your philanthropy. William James College is focused on improving the quality of life for children and adults. An estimated 1 out of 5 Americans suffers from a diagnosable mental illness—over 66 million people. It's a staggering number, and the odds are that most of us have a family member or close friend in need of care, if we're not seeking care ourselves. 60-80% of those who receive appropriate assessment and mental health treatment will improve.Now, doesn't that matter to you?

5. I can't give enough to matter.

But you can. First of all, every gift matters. And several small gifts add up quickly and that sum can provide financial aid to a student who wants to be a mental health professional—maybe a veteran who wants to get the training to treat other vets. We have many special programs that qualified students hope to enter, and financial aid makes all the difference.

6. I don't know what my gift can do.

Your gift has the capacity to change lives. It will open new opportunities for countless men and women—veterans, Haitians whose second language is English, students driven by their own experience growing up in poverty and the mental health issues with which it is often conflated—who will receive a quality education and work with diverse people who need help. Every day, we hear about people and families who have had their lives changed for the better by effective mental health care. We train professionals to provide treatment to those who might otherwise have fallen through the cracks—and in the process, make individuals, families, and entire communities healthier and more functional. That's a lot for your gift to do.

7. When I think about mental health, I imagine Woody Allen on a couch in Manhattan. That's nothing I want to support.

Our students apply the tools and techniques of psychology to bring practical change to businesses and corporations, schools grades K-12, colleges, health care centers, homeless shelters and primary care physicians' offices, the juvenile justice systems, individuals and families in their homes and beyond. By investing in the future of William James College, you share in our commitment to provide high quality, culturally appropriate mental health care to those in need. Woody doesn't need you.

8. Why do I have to give now? What's the urgency?

With the extraordinary cost of untreated mental illness depressing our economy; with emotional factors as the most common cause of school failure;and with a critical shortage of substance abuse counselors, child clinicians, culturally diverse professionals, and organizational specialists, the important work of William James College could not be more relevant and urgent right now.

9. I know there are plenty of Psychology Departments at Boston's many colleges and universities. What's so special about William James College?

William James College students are standouts because they want to work with those who don't readily have access to care, or who face stigma or shame in seeking it. Often they are a part of the communities they want to care for: they speak the same languages, have similar backgrounds, or have had similar life experiences. They bring unique and valuable perspectives—understanding obstacles to treatment, which approaches might be most effective, and how to overcome reluctance and objections. Their passion has a transformative impact on our campus—and an even greater impact out in the world.

Whether a veteran is helping another veteran adjust to life after wartime trauma, or a Spanish-speaking counselor is helping a young mother from Venezuela and her two small children to start a new life in the U.S., or a school psychologist is helping a once-vibrant high school junior deal with depression after a bullying episode, every one of our students has the knowledge and skills to provide practical, high-impact help to those in deep need.

10. I don't want to give unless my gift can have a real impact.

Funds raised through the Campaign for William James College will enable us to build upon our established reputation for recognizing and responding to diverse needs; allow us to attract and train talented students, help us to support the teaching, research, and innovative efforts of our faculty, and provide resources to ensure that our infrastructure and environment positively contribute to teaching, learning, and to the betterment of our communities. Your real impact will be measured by increased access to services that make a difference provided by our first class graduates, by the decrease in mental health stigma achieved by our relentless advocacy, by the increase in research on effective and practical counseling and organizational psychology, and much more. Quite literally, your gift will help us transform lives and transform communities, alleviating the tremendous, often unseen, suffering that is happening all around us every day. And that represents millions of reasons to give.

Podcast: Conversations with William James College

Podcast 1: Kathryn Stanley


Rapport Cover Spring 2017