World Mental Health Day 2012

10 October marks World Mental Health Day. This year’s theme focuses particularly on depression.

Having worked with and known people who have suffered with depression, I think awareness raising in this context is crucial. The word ‘depression’ has moved into common parlance. I might talk about feeling depressed on a daily basis when something comes up that affects my mood negatively.

Actually suffering from the symptoms of depression is vastly different and in some ways, language isn’t a friend to those who do suffer from depression.

As we allow ‘depression’ to become almost synonymous with ‘sadness’ we misjudge a swathe of people for whom the illness is an immense source of difficulty. pain and distress. Depression isn’t sadness. Depression isn’t about the ebb and flow of mood. Depression can be debilitating and hopeless. Depression needs to be far better understood in that context and in the context that it can affect anyone and everyone – regardless of background, class or social status.

We can’t make judgements externally by looking at someone else’s life and decide if they ‘should be happy or not’ because depression doesn’t work like that. Life doesn’t work like that.

What we can do is look and see if someone is suffering and if they are, why should we do anything other than empathise with that experience of suffering and try to alleviate that in any way possible.

Having walked alongside, as far as possible, those who have and do experience depression, I have an admiration for the immense struggle that comes with each day and I learn from it.

My hope for this World Mental Health Day which seeks to increase understanding and reduce stigma is that depression isn’t seen as something is a decision people make about their lives. It can’t be ‘shaken off’ at will.

That needs understanding and that needs focus.

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6 thoughts on “World Mental Health Day 2012

  1. Unfortunately, the attitude to and stigma associated with mental ill health has not changed much. This is partly the result of a mental health system where practitioners take differing perspectives and attitudes themselves. I was once at an ‘event’ , invitation only, of all the top people in the field covering the different psychiatric disciplines. I was appalled, but now no longer surprised, that how few attended the presentations of colleagues coming from a perspective differing to their own.

    In some countries of the world the word depression was unknown until modern psychiatry, with the international careers now offered, took over. Some of the luckier people, usually the well heeled, get adequate help with their serious disorders- by no means the majority.

    Clinical depression runs along a spectrum- some people have more intractable depression lifelong, others because of events that break their normal coping mechanisms. They are different from each other.

    But to make increasing problems fall under a ‘mental health ‘ label as the new classifications seem to be proposing is a dangerous step for all.

  2. Pingback: World Mental Health Day 2012 | paininthegut

  3. I think it is a shame that people use the word ‘depression’ as if it has lost its meaning. It is a serious thing to many people and we all should realise it. The word is used if someone has had a bad day, which makes it harder for people who suffer from depression to speak about it without people thinking ‘well I feel depressed too’ not understanding what that persons life may be like. I also feel doctors throw the word around too freely, many women are diagnosed with ‘depression’ and put on anti-depressants as it is the easier option, this has to stop, it doesnt help people address what may be going on in their lives and can cause more problems than not. I hope that people become more aware of this and not use it as an everyday word, taking away the importance of what it really means.

  4. World Mental Health Day is a great time to raise awareness of these issues. So glad to see this article today. Really love what you have said here about admiring those who have lived through depression and handled it. Very great thing to say.

    I’m the author of a book called Crochet Saved My Life which talks about how crafting and creativity can help us through many different mental and physical health conditions. It includes my own story of crocheting as one part of a wellness plan to heal from depression. I really wanted to do my part from World Mental Health Day so the book is 30% off through this weekend.

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