Alumnae Business News

Silent No More: Kubly Works to Lift the Stigma of Depression

Personal acts and philanthropic gifts support mental health, particularly for students

By Mount Mary University

Posted on November 17, 2017

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Just the other day at Barnes & Noble, Billie Kubly ’57 struck up a light conversation with the salesclerk.  The clerk asked, how many children do you have? Without hesitation Billie answered, “Seven – but one died of depression.”

“At a women’s school you learn to form more of your own identity; that’s how I was able to form something after Charlie died.”

Billie Kubly ‘57

The clerk went on to tell Billie about her experience with a loved one. For both of them, the moment became meaningful.

In this way, conversation by conversation, Billie lifts the veil of silence around mental health.

Charlie, Billie’s youngest, was 28 when he took his life in 2003, “a victim of stigma,” she said, because he refused to reach out or tell his friends.

“I told him, ‘If he told 10 friends he had the disease of depression, half of them would tell you they did, too.’” The night after his death, 25 of his friends gathered at the Kubly home “some of them took us aside and told us, ‘we have the same problem.’”

Billie has been fighting the crusade ever since. She and her husband, Michael Kubly, M.D., a retired orthopedic surgeon, have sponsored local mental health education and suicide prevention efforts through the Charles E. Kubly Foundation, named in their son’s honor. Among the many recognitions for the work of the Foundation, the couple received an honorary doctor of humanities degree from the Medical College of Wisconsin in 2016 for their work to increase accessibility to mental health resources in Wisconsin.

In August, Billie gave a personal gift of $500,000 to Mount Mary to start an endowment that will support counseling and mental health services on campus in perpetuity. This gift will be used to expand the services of the Counseling Center.

“I want to stand up and make it better for others, to fight he fight because (Charlie) couldn’t do it. “Everybody has a purpose,” she said. “Charlie gave me my purpose.”

The Counseling Center is staffed by professional counselors and graduate school interns who provide walk-in, consultation and crisis counseling. Due to a prior increase in the scope of services, the Counseling Center saw a 70 percent increase in total appointments between 2015-16 and 2016-17.

Another mental health initiative on campus is a chapter of a national advocacy organization, Active Minds, which formed last school year. The student-led organization is designed to help students present educational events, movie screenings and awareness-raising activities designed to promote mental health resources on campus.


Mental Health at a Glance at Mount Mary

The Counseling Center is staffed by professional counselors and graduate school interns who provide walk-in, consultation and crisis counseling. Due to a prior increase in the scope of services, the Counseling Center saw a 70 percent increase in total appointments between 2015-16 and 2016-17.

Another mental health initiative on campus is a chapter of a national advocacy organization, Active Minds, which formed last school year. The student-led organization is designed to help students present educational events, movie screenings and awareness-raising activities designed to promote mental health resources on campus.

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