Judge Hidalgo talks about her mental health journey

Good stuff, and I’d bet there are a lot of people who need to hear it.

Judge Lina Hidalgo

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo said she spent years fighting depression and suicidal thoughts but felt too ashamed to ask for help because of the stigma associated with seeking mental health treatment.

She said she resisted the idea of seeing a psychiatrist despite experiencing these symptoms of depression for nearly a decade. Even when she finally decided to check into an inpatient mental health treatment facility this summer, she said she told a friend that she was scared it would forever be part of her resume.

“I was holding myself back, just because I was too prideful and biased to not recognize that I needed that kind of care,” Hidalgo, 32, said in a wide-ranging interview Thursday. “I don’t want that for anybody else in the community.”

Hidalgo returned to work [last] Monday for the first time since she announced Aug. 7 that she was taking an extended leave of absence to receive mental health treatment. She said in a letter to Harris County residents that she had been experiencing symptoms “for some time” but was not diagnosed with clinical depression until July.

After spending seven weeks in treatment at the Lindner Center for HOPE in Cincinnati, Hidalgo said she wishes she had sought treatment sooner.

“I was so ignorant about mental health, and now I’ve been sort of on a crash course about it,” Hidalgo said. “I recognize that there’s such a lack of knowledge in the community. I feel like if there’s a little bit that I can do by sharing my experience and it will help other people, then I have a responsibility to do that.”


While in treatment, her staff sent her letters from supporters who offered words of encouragement and sympathized with her job being stressful. But Hidalgo said Thursday that she believes she would have needed treatment regardless of her profession.

“I appreciate the sentiment and I know they mean well, but I don’t want the takeaway to be that you only are depressed or deserve treatment if you are in a ‘tough job,’” she said. “I would have driven myself to severe depression no matter what I did because my personality is this way.”

Go read the rest, and click over to watch a video of her conversation with the Chron. I greatly admire what Judge Hidalgo is doing, and I hope her message is received by everyone who needs to hear it.

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2 Responses to Judge Hidalgo talks about her mental health journey

  1. Jeff N. says:

    Great interview. It takes courage for her to speak out about mental health and her personal experience. Great leader.

  2. Jason Hochman says:

    I hope that my message of support was helpful. However, let’s just say that most of us can’t get a two month leave from work, nor would those of us who are fortunate enough to have good insurance likely to be able to get a month and a half of inpatient treatment, probably my insurance would only spring for inpatient treatment if I attempted suicide, or was so depressed that I was neglecting my health.

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