Journalist Mike Wallace speaks on clinical depression

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(Host) Veteran broadcast journalist Mike Wallace says when he first suffered from severe depression he was too ashamed to seek treatment. Wallace, the co-editor of the CBS newsmagazine “60 Minutes,” was in Vermont on Monday as part of a conference designed to reduce barriers to hiring people with disabilities.

VPR’s John Dillon reports:

(Dillon) As a top reporter for “60 Minutes,” Mike Wallace projects a tough, unshakable personality. But almost 20 years ago, Wallace was hit hard by a mental illness that afflicts millions of other Americans. Wallace says he slipped into clinical depression after being named in a libel suit in the mid-1980s.

(Wallace) “I would go out reporting on jobs and I didn’t know the questions to ask, I couldn’t hear the answers, I couldn’t follow up. And I began to spiral down.”

(Dillon) At first, Wallace says he tried to keep his illness secret.

(Wallace) “I was simply ashamed of the fact. I didn’t want to tell the people that I worked with that I was depressed.”

(Dillon) With therapy and medication, Wallace recovered. He talked about his experience with depression as part of the third annual Governor’s Summit on the Employment of People with Disabilities. Wallace and others who spoke at the conference say there’s still a stigma attached to mental illness. But Governor Jim Douglas encouraged companies to look beyond the image and hire people with disabilities.

(Douglas) “There’s research to demonstrate that someone who has a disability who is being treated is a more reliable employee than the workforce at large. So these are good potential employees and employers would be well advised to seek out those who have been diagnosed and treated for a disability. They’ll give them more than a day’s work for a day’s pay.”

(Dillon) Wallace was invited to the conference by Vermont Senator James Jeffords. Jeffords has sponsored several pieces of legislation to help people with mental and physical disabilities.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m John Dillon in South Burlington.

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