Ending Stigma By Raising Awareness
People suffering from depression often feel isolated and alone, and the stigma around depression and lack of public education about the disease can make it more difficult for those suffering to seek the necessary help.
What is Stigma?
Stigma (according to Dictionary.com) is defined as:
- A mark of disgrace or infamy; a stain or reproach, as on one's reputation.
- A mental or physical mark that is characteristic of a defect or disease.
Feelings of embarrassment, guilt, shame, and being an outcast aren't uncommon among those with depression. Unfortunately, this can often cause hesitation to seek out or accept the help they need.
One of the more common misconceptions among those who have never experienced depression is that the person affected has "nothing to be depressed about." This comes from a lack of understanding that the illness is an internal psychological battle and often has very little to do with surroundings or daily life.
Those with depression can be viewed as weak or unstable which will only add to their existing guilt or embarrassment. As a result, these opinions can often lead to someone who is depressed having trouble finding a job or openly discussing their illness with those they love.
Why Increased Awareness is Important
When people with depression go untreated, they often find other means of coping; this can lead to addictions or suicidal thoughts. Depression awareness among the general public as well as people affected will help to decrease the stigma around the disease, making help and treatment a more viable option.
If a support system made up of trusted individuals like friends or loved ones is easily accessible, those suffering will be more open to share. Of course everyone is different, but knowing that a supportive environment exists could ease some of the stress involved.
For the friends and family of someone who is living with depression, being knowledgeable of the disease and its symptoms will help them be prepared as they will better understand what their loved one is experiencing and as a result be able to offer more substantial support.
It's also important for employers to be knowledgeable about mental illnesses like depression so that they can have a better understanding of how to approach the situation if they have an employee who is suffering. It's equally important for teachers to understand depression so they can provide guidance and information to their students. This information may also be valuable in the efforts to stop bullying. If students know more about depression and its effects, they might be more likely to help a fellow classmate or show compassion to those around them.