Warriors come from all walks of life, and in the mental health field, Margie Roop stands out above the crowd. “People are so intriguing,” says Margie Roop, a mental health professional who has dedicated her life to helping others. “I don’t care who you are or what you do, I am lucky enough to see in everyone their personal strengths and what they can contribute to the world. Whether it’s to bring sunshine to a cloudy day, or put a smile on someone else’s face, everyone has their own unique set of gifts and talents, and I am happy when I can help them on their journey through life,” she says.
Margie says that communicating with others has always been very easy for her. “I can readily engage in a conversation with others, no matter who they are. I find their stories to be fascinating and that is part of what makes it special for them: someone is listening to what they have to say. These days people think others are too busy to listen to everyone else, and that is unfortunate,” she says.
During her over 23 years as a clinical counselor working for Employee Assistance Programs (EAP), she estimates that she has helped over 2,000 people. “In that setting, you must understand that people are vulnerable and they are coming to me for help. And that is huge; I mean, what a responsibility and what a privilege to be able to help them. I cherish their stories, their life histories, and whatever problems are plaguing them at the present time. Each and every one of them has a story, and I use my training and expertise to help them. I love my ability to guide them and help them work through their feelings surrounding whatever is bothering them.”
At times Margie is still amazed at the privilege she has been given by God to be allowed to hear the innermost secrets, life challenges, fears, addictions and silent hopes shared with her by the people she has helped. “Every personality, whether it was a company contact or a counseling client, was, of course, different, and I found that I could deftly adjust my approach to each person. It was both a challenge and a joy as I reveled in the client stories,” she says. Margie found satisfaction in helping people who trusted her and it was even made extra special when they would say comments like, “It was you, Margie, who saved my life,” or “You were able to say things to me in a way that I really understood.”
Margie grew up in Grand Rapids, Michigan, the eldest of four children. She has been married to the love of her life, Mike, and they have a 28-year old son, Michael. “He is the light of our lives,” says Margie. When she is not busy saving the world, one client at a time, she often dreams about her “ideal” job. “My ideal job would be a resident singer in a large metropolitan area for major musicals coming through town. Now that I am 65, I think I would do a respectable job as the older woman actor! My ultimate role would be to play Grizabella, the Glamor Cat in Cats!
She believes that people struggle with mental health issues because of the stigma society has placed on those types of illnesses. “They suffer in silence because they see how people are made fun of, how Hollywood demonizes such illnesses on the big screen, and even how people are marginalized in the workplace if they discuss their own illness,” she says. “I have carried a diagnosis of anxiety and depression for nearly 30 years for which I am being treated through an anti-depressant, so I know first-hand the importance of taking care of mental health!” Sadly, Margie herself believes she has been a victim of prejudice when she was working as a mental health professional for an employee assistance program that contracted with businesses to provide mental health services to their employees and family members. Margie believes that she was terminated from LifeServices EAP, her employer of 21 years, due to her disclosures about her mental health diagnosis and problems she was dealing with at home.
But that experience did not keep her down.
“I am still committed to helping others with their mental health issues,” she says. In her new role as Therapist/Corporate Liaison for a long-term residential treatment program for people with drug and alcohol addiction, Margie provides tours of both the house where the patients reside as well as the location of the actual treatment.
Her advice for anyone who is struggling with a mental health issue is simple: “Don’t be afraid. Help is available; people will always have their judgments about almost anything, but don’t allow that to interfere with getting the help that you deserve. Be brave and take a leap of faith. There are people out there who believe in you and who want to help you!”