Sallie P. Mink, a registered nurse who for 20 years had been educational director for depression and related affective disorders at Johns Hopkins Hospital, died Saturday of brain cancer at Keswick Multi-Care Center. The one-time Ruxton resident who later lived in Mays Chapel was 65.
"Sallie was a very passionate and extraordinarily effective person," said Dr. J. Raymond DePaulo Jr., director of the department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Hopkins School of Medicine, and a friend of nearly 40 years.
"She was a great psychiatric nurse, and adolescent depression was an interest of hers. Families found that she was invaluable and a great resource. She was able to get them where they needed to go," Dr. DePaulo said.
A daughter of a third-generation physician and a registered nurse, Sallie Province was born and raised in Franklin, Ind.
After graduating in 1965 from Tudor Hall School for Girls in Indianapolis, she earned a bachelor's degree in English in 1969 from Elmira College in Elmira, N.Y.
Ms. Mink earned a nursing degree in 1972 at Columbia University-Presbyterian Hospital School of Nursing in New York.
She worked at Columbia University-Presbyterian Hospital for two years before going to Hopkins in 1974.
"I first met Sallie in 1975 when she was a psychiatric nurse working in old Phipps Clinic East Four, and then we later became neighbors on Rider Hill Road in Ruxton," Dr. DePaulo said.
After marrying, Ms. Mink stopped nursing for several years to raise her children.
In 1986, Dr. DePaulo founded a regional patient awareness group at Hopkins called DRADA — Depression and Related Affective Disorders Association.
"I persuaded Sallie to come back to Hopkins and work with the fledgling organization in order to educate the public about depression. ... She was education director of DRADA and educated the public about depression," said Dr. DePaulo. "She had a critical function and saved thousands of lives. She was talking to families or people who were either depressed or bipolar, and it made all the difference that they were speaking with a nurse who was at the center of things.
"The three things Sallie did were to help patients get where they needed to go, educate them and then give them the support they needed," Dr. DePaulo said.
"People were convinced that most mental illness was rooted in poor parenting," Ms. Mink said in an interview with the Hopkins department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences newsletter. She noted that the stigma is "still sharp today."
In her work, she said in the Hopkins interview, "anxiety is married to depression, and sometimes it's all people can do to call us. When they do, they sure don't want voice mail."
In 1999, Ms. Mink became associated with the Adolescent Depression Awareness Program under the auspices of Hopkins' department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences. The program was created by Dr. Karen L. Swartz, a psychiatrist at Hopkins for 25 years.
"We began the program 14 years ago after an unusual series of adolescent suicides," said Dr. Swartz. "It was our shared experience that it was more important to be more proactive than reactive."
She said Ms. Mink was an "unusually talented clinical nurse who was committed to working with young people who had mental disorders. She was also committed to fighting the stigma of mental illness."
Ms. Mink was a beacon of hope to those who called, colleagues said.
"She was an unbelievable talent on the phone and was a community resource. She was able to make information accessible and instill hope, and at the same time tell them they had a treatable illness," said Dr. Swartz. "She was unusually gifted in being able to inspire hope in those who were suffering. She knew how to make people feel comfortable, and through conversation make them understand that they will get better."
Ms. Mink took the program to local high schools, where there were frank discussions of depression, bipolar illness and suicide with ninth- and 10th-graders.