Breaking the Silence: Challenging the Stigma Surrounding Depression
The other day, I happened to read a fantastic fiction book. I call it fantastic because it did a fantastic job of pushing me out of my “fantasy” boundaries. It jolted me a bit to reality and my surroundings, compelling me to sit back and question all those whom I cared for around me: “Are you ok? As silly as this question may sound, it has its own significant repercussions, no strings attached, and addressing mental health and related issues, I feel, is the single most important thing we ought to focus on, especially in the post-Covid scenario, where the pandemic taught us what havoc isolation can bring about to us in terms of mental health. Depression is very much a reality that needs to be talked about, and it is time we concentrate on the single most important pursuit: addressing the skeleton. Presenting The Stigmas Surrounding Depression: Breaking the Silence.
Let’s talk about the D word today. Hey, I mean a much more significant D than the one you might be thinking.
I am referring to depression here.
Tell me something, you guys. How many times has it occurred to you that you feel helpless, judged, and weighed down by the weight of society’s expectations? Ok, let’s try this: do you feel FOMO—fear of not being included, left out, or staying behind while others are proceeding ahead? Ever felt your life to be lackluster and devoid of any progress or movement at all?
Well, these are not really red herrings as such, I’d say. They are common FOMOs that we, as Gen Z, feel and experience time and again. I am referring to the much graver scenarios where one may experience a certain kind of withdrawal. They may be going through multiple feelings such as self-deprivation, unacceptance of positivity, cynicism, negativity, and poor mental health owing to workplace issues, societal expectations, or familial pressures. It may even be a result of many other reasons, external or even internal, dating back to a particular isolated episode or life condition.
The result? Well, depression.
And you know what? The effect can be seen spreading manifold. Indeed, it is not the individual who suffers alone. The entire family, the society he is a part of, and the workplace all get affected in one way or another. On a personal level, individuals themselves might go through a host of symptoms leading to poor overall physical health, a poor social life, and a poor work life, leading them to feel isolated, worthless, and unproductive. And what’s more, family isn’t going to be spared from the ill effects of either, so it will definitely strain the particular individual’s familial life as he struggles to provide emotional and other kinds of support to his family. And the effect on his workplace and society? Well, I am not even getting there.
Do you know the biggest reason why people with depression don’t seek help? There is reluctance as far as approaching and seeking help is concerned. It is the stigma that has been attached to mental health for a long time now.
Stigma basically refers to the discrediting, devaluing, or shaming of a person because of characteristics or attributes they possess. Stigma leads to negative experiences such as isolation, marginalization, rejection, and discrimination.
Basically, there are four types of stigma that are associated with mental health:
- Self-stigma: This refers to the negative attitudes of an individual toward his or her own mental illness and is also addressed as an internalized stigma. Failure to access treatment, disempowerment, reduced self-efficacy, and a decreased quality of life lead to this one.
- Public stigma: This refers to negative attitudes towards those with mental illness held by the general public. Often based on misconceptions, fear, and prejudice, this one also leads to perceived stigma, which refers to an individual’s own belief about the attitudes of others towards their mental illness.
- Professional stigma: This occurs when healthcare professionals hold a stigmatizing attitude towards their patients, which is mostly based on fear or misunderstanding of the condition.
- Institutional stigma: This refers to an organization’s policies or culture of negative beliefs towards stigmatized individuals, like those with mental health problems.
So, where do we go from here?
Depression is real, guys. It’s about time we took this skeleton out of the closet and addressed the need to prioritize as well as pay ample attention to mental health—ours as well as that of those whom we love and care for. Guys, mental affliction is more a condition of the mind than anything else. It is not a contagion, a disease you might get out of contact with another. In fact, it is necessary that we spare a moment every now and then, just to be able to get connected to our loved ones, to be able to take a moment and ask them, “Listen, how have you been? Are you ok?” Keeping a tab on mental health is as essential as any other important task, and it is also imperative that we take note of others as well. Changes in others’ behaviour—withdrawal, avoiding, staying aloof, and not responding well or enough—are some red herrings, and we should take note of them and react if we happen to notice any of them. That way, we can keep tabs on and help those who are in need of being heard and need help.
Remember, it is not a sin to ask for help, as it is important to address one’s mental struggles and overcome them in order to live a better life. I feel the single most important step here for all those who are facing depression or mental health issues is the urgency to break the silence on this. No, it is not to come forward and say that you are not OK, because that is how you have been feeling, and it is completely OK to not be OK! What is essential here is how we move forward from there, nipping the demon of depression and not letting it stay inside for long, making one completely frail and useless enough to even lead a normal life. Life, which is the greatest possible gift one can ever get, is perfect and irreplaceable, which ensures that we live through it freely, without inhibitions, every single moment of our existence.
- The Importance of Mental Health in Murakami’s Norwegian Wood
- Mental Health: Causes and Solutions, Booxoul Answers
So, the next time, please do take a minute and ask those whom you care for, “Are you OK? Is everything fine?
I hope my thoughts resonate with you guys. Stay tuned with us right here at Booxoul for the best in the fields of entertainment, fun, finance, fashion, mental health, education, tech, and gadgets, as well as all things bookish.