A word from Dolores
Dolores at a candlelight vigil, she organized, for mental health justice and awareness.
"We all have our positive and negative moments with our job. So when I first began to feel symptoms of depression, I did what, I think, most people do—I told myself to buck up and that tomorrow would be a better day. But my depression persisted and escalated until I realized there was something seriously wrong.
I went to my physician and was diagnosed with severe clinical depression (SCP). It's a sickness that can cause anything from uncontrollable anxiety attacks to suicidal thoughts.
Wow! I was shocked and confused. My doctor told me that I had to take a temporary hiatus from my career as a legislative advocate. For over two decade my passion was to provide a voice in the state Capitol for more than 70,000 teachers and classified school workers. How could I leave that important work?
I did listen to my doctor. I wanted to get better. But I struggled. Some days I couldn’t get out bed and every day I cried. I was disciplined and dedicated. I took my medication and participated in psychological counseling. When my physician okayed my return to work, she prescribed a temporarily modified work schedule. I listened to that advice. What happened next changed my life forever.
When I returned to work with my doctor’s letter I was verbally abused by my supervisor. The following day I was told I was fired. Management gave me no reason for my dismissal. Just like that, I lost my livelihood, my health benefits and so much more. My whole situation was a nightmare.
I am currently pursuing my legal options. Beyond my personal right to justice; however, I believe there is a broader issue of Mental Health Justice that I am morally obligated to pursue.
Ever since I have been sharing my story with other workers, I have been deeply touched by the stories they have generously shared with me. It is overwhelming how many people have similar experiences —so many people have been discriminated against, abused by their superiors and stigmatized—all because they suffer from a mental illness.
As an advocate most of my adult life, I firmly believe it's time to bring justice to the mental health community. That means:
- Equal protection under the law.
- A discrimination free society especially in the workplace.
- A society free of mental health stigmas.
- Clear workplace procedures to deal compassionately with mental illness including employer and employee awareness classes and appropriate leave for those with mental illness.
I am committed to spend my life fighting for Mental Health Justice. Please visit the Become An Advocate section of this site to see how you too can fight for mental health justice.
Find out why strengthening legal protections, providing proper support, enhancing education and awareness, and ending the stigma and discrimination associated with mental illness are critical components to improving the lives of those of us who suffer from mental health disorders and our family and friends.”