Depression in youth is the subject of an upcoming stage play by Doriane Miller, M.D.

Depression in youth is the subject of an upcoming stage play by Doriane Miller, M.D.

“It Shoulda Been Me” tells the story of a 15-year-old student who goes from high academic achievement to failing grades in the matter of months following the death of his best friend and in the wake of his family breaking up. The student falls into depression and the play shows the importance of recognizing the signs of depression in teens and ways of overcoming it.

“It Shoulda Been Me” is a collaborative effort between eta Creative Arts Foundation and the University of Chicago’s Urban Health Initiative. It is recommended for fifth through twelfth graders.

Inspiration for the play grew out of Miller’s community outreach work in which mental health issues in youth were identified as the number one challenge. A physician at a Chicago community health center in Chicago, Miller was struck by the number of people between 18 and 25 who reported having been affected by violence either personally through gunshot wounds or knowing a family member or friend who had been shot.

“When I asked for information about these experiences and how my young patients felt about them, their responses made it seem like a normal rite of passage,” said Dr. Miller. “However, many of these young people exhibited symptoms of anxiety and depression, not unlike people exposed to war. Many of them also became involved in risky behaviors such as unprotected sex, drug or alcohol abuse.”

The play’s cast includes Kona Burks, Ingrid Gaitor, Darren Jones and Osiris Khepera, with Vaun Monroe directing.

Part of eta’s Showfolk Cultural Enrichment Series for Youth,

“It Shoulda Been Me” opens Oct. 31 at eta Square, 7558 S. South Chicago Ave.

Copyright 2011 Chicago Defender

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