Addressing Depression: This Simple Action by Mentors Can Boost Employee and Student Self-Confidence

As a mentor, taking this action not only bolsters employee and student mental health but can also help you do your job better.
Published: June 17, 2024

Article author David Woods Bartley will be presenting “The Why of Suicide and the How of Hope” at this summer’s Campus Safety Conference taking place July 8-10 in Atlanta. Register now at

“A mentor is someone who sees more talent and ability within you, than you see in yourself, and helps bring it out of you.” —Bob Proctor

Depression is cruel and wicked for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is its ability to rob me of precious self-worth. There have been many days in my life in which I have been convinced not only am I weak, stupid, ugly and pitiful, but I have absolutely nothing of value to offer anyone else.

On depression’s best days and my worst, the monster is invasive, overwhelming, and fully evil. He pursues me with dogged persistence; running me down from behind, tackling me, and pushing my face deep into the mud of despair as he runs over me, laughing while he does.

Depression is like a rogue animal, an untamed beast that is both all bark and all bite. And, having been assaulted by it more times than I care to recall, I now appreciate why Winston Churchill referred to his depression as, “The Black Dog.”

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This animal sinks his teeth deep into me and thrashes me about like a rag doll. The more I try to pry myself free, the harder he clamps down. Held firm in the jowls of the beast, in time I relent, and he carries me off to dine on my soul, never fully completing the task and instead of leaving me just alive enough to feel deep pain.

But today was different. This morning, someone I hold in the highest esteem, a man who continues to mentor, influence, and guide me, asked for my opinion.

“David, what would you do?” he asked me.

In truth, he sought my counsel, something I didn’t know I had to give.

My mentor was giving an important talk and wanted my guidance on how he should speak about a particular issue. He fretted his words would fall short, and while he intended to offer help, he feared he might do harm instead.

And he asked me what he should do.


I froze for a moment before I responded, awestruck by the gift of such a request, but then, I did speak. What came out surprised me since it wasn’t hesitant and jumbled. Rather, it was concise, direct, and insightful. So much so that I felt as if the words were spoken by some other person.

Related Article: College Mental Health: 59% of Students Have Anxiety, 43% Are Depressed

Was this thoughtful advice coming from some passerby who overheard the request and responded before I could?  In a way, this was the truth since the words I voiced came from a part of me I had long forgotten even existed.

When I finished, this man I love and admire paused, considered what I had said, and then thanked me. He said I had made a difference. He told me I was a huge help and had given him sound and much-needed input. He added that my words had eased his mind and calmed his worry.

Battle Employee and Student Depression by Asking for Their Input

It’s hard to put into words what this simple encounter means to me. I cannot convey how much this short exchange has impacted me, of how my depleted self suddenly became full.

Related Article: Mental Health in America: Test Your Awareness with This Quiz

For too many years, depression has made my soul its kennel, and time after time has taken me to the woodshed of self-hatred to be mauled and torn apart. But just when depression was again convincing me I was worthless, and I could feel his hot breath on the back of my neck, Life said something different. Today, Life told me I was worthy.

And, what’s even more surprising is today I discovered a silver lining from all these beatings; I now believe my longstanding experience of worthlessness allows me to appreciate the contrasting light of self-worth that much more, maybe even more so than an “average” person.

In the words of Kahlil Gibran, “Nor is it a thought I leave behind me, but a heart made sweet with hunger and with thirst.”

Could I know self-worth without the experience of worthlessness? I’m not sure. But what I do know is this; today, for a precious moment, “The Black Dog” let go.

David Woods Bartley is two-time TEDx speaker, international mental health presenter and subject matter expert on suicide.

The views expressed by guest bloggers and contributors are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, Campus Safety magazine. 

Strategy & Planning Series
Strategy & Planning Series
Strategy & Planning Series
Strategy & Planning Series
Strategy & Planning Series