Rob Slaughter: DestigmatizIng Caring for Mental Health

Growing up in a home broken by divorce, Rob Slaughter, PhD, RN, Executive Director, Clinical Services and Quality, Cone Health Medical Group, had vowed to be the best possible father to his children. But he realized he wasn’t achieving that goal after he left an earlier position at Cone Health for a less demanding job. “I realized I needed to get help after I left my dream job, going to a two-day a week job, and I was having overwhelming anxiety,” he recalls. “It was paralyzing. I couldn’t do anything.” 

Recognizing that he had gotten to the point where he wasn’t accomplishing the things he wanted was when he realized he had to get help. Rob approached his primary care doctor, someone outside of Cone Health. She referred him to a behavioral health doctor at Cone Health. Initially Rob admits to being scared of being seen by someone in behavioral health. But he went anyway.

“The first time I met her, I liked her. I felt like I could trust her,” Rob says. “It was easy to build a relationship with her, and she’s been my doctor ever since.” Diagnosed as having bipolar disorder, anxiety and agoraphobia, he credits the resources available through Cone Health with helping him on his journey.

Since first reaching out for help, Rob has been surprised and relieved by the support he has received from family, friends and coworkers when he has shared his diagnosis. “The first time I told my family, I told my wife, we had a conversation with my children about this, and the kids were asking questions,” he shares. Both Rob and his wife felt, when looking back, that the diagnosis made sense and gave them answers, as well as a path forward for him to be a more engaged husband and father.

Thanks to his personal experience, Rob feels that people should care for mental health in the same way or even more than they do their physical health because he thinks mental health is even more important. “The big thing is having someone that cares about you that can help you move forward or find the resources,” he says. “Someone that will support you and not judge you. You do not have to suffer, you just have to ask for help.” Rob stated that he is willing to talk with others who may be hesitant about taking the first step.