Wednesday, September 3, 2014
Lift stigma of depression
The tragic death of comedian Robin Williams once again placed the spotlight on a major mental health concern facing millions of people in our community, state and nation – depression. Depression does not discriminate when it comes to age, gender, educational status, income, and race. Depression robs one of their motivation, productivity, the simple pleasures of life, and many other qualities too numerous to name. It cost our national economy billions yearly in productivity and lost wages.
The American Mental Health Association estimates that less than 50 percent of those fighting major depression are receiving NO treatment. It is a fact that depression can be treated with medication and counseling along with a strong support system consisting of family, friends, and employers. The reason many fail to seek treatment for depression is so many of their family members, neighbors, employers and fellow workers have attached a major stigma to any form of mental illness. It is sad, right here in the Lowcountry, it is OK to have a physical issue but God forbid that someone is being treated for an emotional or serious mental issue. I still hear people say in casual conversation speak in very negative and unprofessional terms about those fighting depression and other mental health concerns. Many of these folks are educated individuals who are ignorant about mental health. I have known people who have been denied employment and advancement within their profession because they were honest enough to admit to their employer that they were being treated for mild depression.
Depression is not something one can just snap out of. It may take extended counseling along with medication, but most of all it takes compassion and empathy. I have a friend who is a Ph.D. psychologist who has told me on numerous occasions, “Brooks, I don’t worry about those individuals who are seeking treatment as much as I worry about those who are out there needing treatment and don’t think they have a problem.”
The last time I checked we were all in this together. Let’s all become more informed about depression, let’s be there for those who need our support and let’s be honest with ourselves if we are facing depression. Most of all let’s join forces to remove the social stigma that through ignorance has been attached to depression and other ofrms of mental illness. We never know when depression will descend upon us personally. I should know; it happened to me.
Brooks P. Moore