The Stigma of Depression
A recent posting to Facebook from a colleague has resonated with me and I thought I would share it with everyone. Depression and mental illness affects all of us whether it be at work, home or business.
He wrote “The coverage German Wings tragedy is bothering me. The co-pilot had mental health issues, but he hid them, However all sorts of so-called “experts” are now on various news broadcasts discussing testing and screening and how this all could have possibly been averted. My fear is that for those who are troubled by Anxiety and Depression and have not come forward to acknowledge it and seek treatment and information to deal with their Mental Illness, will instead be driven further into shame and silence.”
My response was as follows:
People choosing to be driven into shame & silence, is one scenario that some may undertake. Another scenario is that horrific scenarios such as this can have some benefits if people look for the lessons to be learned. According to the media, this individual had mental health issues. If we scratch deep enough, probably every one of us has mental health “issues.” Some people are better at working through them or resolving them than others. This negative media coverage can have a positive message if we choose to see it. Mental health problems do exist. Having them doesn’t make us mentally deficient or substandard in any way. Perhaps it makes us more normal, if there is such a word that applies to mental health.
I have worked with hundreds & hundreds of mental health clients suffering from depression & anxiety. “Suffering” is an apt word as they certainly do. I have worked with many suicidal clients as well over the years. My professional colleagues & I have helped to save countless lives, helping people move through their depression & despair. Not everyone is able to move on though.
Perhaps the lesson here is for all of us to be aware of the symptoms of suicidal ideation and what to do about it if we discover it. Psychiatric first aid if you will.
I think that we may find something else as the media and so-called experts did deeper. This appears to be a very angry man who chose to take his life and a large number of innocent victims with him. From my perspective, poor anger management skills, compounded by the blanket of depression, made for a tragic news story. While everybody is pushing for more stringent mental health screening, perhaps psychological testing for antisocial tendencies may be of more value.
On the local front volunteers in the South Okanagan Similkameen have created a great opportunity to help break down the barrier of stigma, which is so often associated with mental illness, and get people talking about their mental well-being. Join them on May 9, 2015 when they will be following the elephant in downtown Penticton.
Join them in creating a caring community to support a person recovering from a mental illness.
Take part by signing up online at http://mdsc.akaraisin.com/pentictondd2015 to create and personalize your own fundraising profile page or make a donation. All donations over $25 receive a tax receipt.
“As family members, we are dedicated to creating a caring community when a person has a mental illness. The Mental Wellness Centre wants to help those in the South Okanagan Similkameen who struggle with their mental health and those who care about them to share their stories and open the lines of communication so that both feel comfortable asking for help and reaching out”.
Their goal is to raise $3,000 or more!
More information needed? Call 250-493-7338 or email
Here are some startling facts about stigma and mental illness for your consideration.
- Public stigma & discrimination undermines the opportunities a person with mental illness is afforded.
- There is value in incorporating mental health check-ups into medical check-ups.
- In Canada, about two-thirds of those diagnosed with mental illness don’t seek help.
- To move away from stigma we need to treat individuals with mental health issues as individuals, not problems themselves.
- Different mental illnesses have different stigmas. Kinds of stigma vary depending on the kind of provider.
- The economic burden of mental disorders in Canada has been estimated at $51 billion per year with almost $20 billion of that coming from workplace losses.
- Perceptions of violence & fear still taint the image of recovery & perpetuate stigmatizing attitudes & discrimination.
Keep the conversation going …