Tandra Rutledge

Tandra M. Rutledge speaks out about mental health 

Tandra M. Rutledge, the director of business development at Riveredge Hospital in suburban Forest Park, spoke recently to a small crowd during community held at the hospital on Oct. 18. Below is an excerpt of her insightful talk: 

I’m originally from Ohio. I’ve been in Illinois for a little over a year and I came here for this job. The reason I came here is because of my passion for mental health. There is a stigma in our communities of color and I want to be part of the change to reduce that stigma. 

If people see someone like me, a person of color who is a therapist and who can talk the talk and walk the walk, and understand what it means to be in a community of color, then maybe I can compel some other people to come out of the shadows and seek help when help is needed — whether it is the loss of a husband or something like chronic depression. 

For too many years, we as communities of color have been silent. We have to have conversations, particularly around suicide. I’m a certified suicide trainer. The hospital offers training and presentations at no charge. By going out in the community and having those conversations is how we break down that stigma and shame. 

That’s why I uprooted my family from everything that was comfortable and familiar to us to come work at this facility. 

Michael Romain