By By Frederick N. Rasmussen and The Baltimore Sun
Apr 18, 2012 | 7:43 PM
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.
"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.
"If we could intervene early, then we could give them back their lives and opportunity," said Dr. Swartz. "Sallie was a truly amazing nurse. She was the rare combination of warmth, kindness and knowledge, and that's incredibly rare."
"The ADAP program was so successful that it has been expanded from Maryland to 14 other states," said Dr. DePaulo.
Ms. Mink wrote "The Most Commonly Asked Questions about Teenage Depression and Bipolar Illness" and made a film, "Day for Night: Recognizing Teenage Depression."
Over the past 20 years, she helped develop and plan the department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences' annual Mood Disorders Symposium.
"She brought a sense of commitment, passion and importance to the work," said Barbara W. Schweizer, a registered nurse and special projects director for the Hopkins department. She had a tremendous optimism. That was Sallie. She had a sense of fun, cheerfulness and a positive outlook. She also knew her role was that of a public educator."
Ms. Mink had to stop working after being diagnosed in November with a brain tumor, family members said.
She enjoyed reading, cooking and listening to music.
She was a member of St. Stephen's Anglican Church, 11856 Mays Chapel Road, Timonium, where services will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday.
Ms. Mink is survived by two sons, Toby M. Mink of Towson and James C. Mink of Boston; a daughter, Emily Frank Mink of Timonium; a brother, Dr. William D. Province II of Franklin, Ind.; and a sister, Lillian T. Province of West Tisbury, Mass. Her marriage to Thomas M. Mink ended in divorce.