Is Depression Becoming Less Stigmatized?

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According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, during a year period approximately 1 in every 5 U.S. adults experience mental illness in some form. With the rise of mental health awareness within the last 10 years, depression is continuing to gain recognition as a serious disease. 

Despite the fact that approximately 16 million Americans struggle with depression, many are afraid to get help. They’re worried that their family and friends will think less of them, or that they’re weak if they cannot handle their problems on their own. 

At Clear Behavioral Health, we aim to be at the forefront of mental health awareness and treatment. We offer personalized plans especially for teens and young adults who are in need of treatment for their depression. 

Until very recently, it wasn’t the done thing to talk about mental health openly. Communication about mental illness is improving worldwide, but there is still much to be done to destigmatize these conditions. Learn more about depression in today’s society and how we can reduce the stigma around it below. 

History of Depression and Mental Health Stigmatization 

For a long time, mental health was viewed as less relevant and less important than physical health. Mentally ill people lacked the treatment and care we have available today. Individuals who struggled with severe depression or other issues were often simply locked away in facilities that neglected them. During the 20th century, mental health reform began to take shape. 

Reform developed steadily throughout the 20th century, thanks to leading psychologists determined to destigmatize mental illness. Depression today is no longer something to conceal and suffer in silence. However, some harmful stigmas still remain. According to Talkspace, some people assume that those who have depression are completely incapable of leading a normal life or maintaining relationships and jobs. 

The reality of depression is that it can affect anyone, even successful young adults and teens. Some people say that depressed people choose to be that way, and that if they really wanted to they could “snap out of it” whenever they wanted. But like any other disease, people can’t choose whether or not they are depressed.

Despite some of these lingering stigmas about depression, mental health education is on the rise across the country. As a result, stigmas have less power than they did decades ago.

Improved Education and Awareness About Depression 

Mental health advocates take the form of doctors, therapists, and those afflicted. All across the country you can find schools, government agencies, support groups, non-profit organizations, healthcare institutions, and individuals that are fighting for increased mental health awareness and education. At Clear Behavioral Health, we offer treatment plans for young people suffering with symptoms of this illness. We work with new patients to decrease their shame about having depression, and work towards a manageable future. 

Knowledge is power, and learning the facts about depression and other mental illnesses is the first major step towards breaking down stigmas. Especially in schools, children are beginning to learn from an early age about mental illness. They are being taught to recognize the signs in themselves or others, and how to seek help. They are learning that their friends who might be depressed need compassion instead of coldness or judgement. 

Governments and local non-profits provide support and information about certain lifeline resources like therapists and hotlines. Another helpful element that can be used to combat the stigmas associated with depression is Mental Health Awareness month. This period is formally recognized during the month of May through a variety of organizations and media outlets. This special month of mental health awareness has been happening for 70 years. 

Greater Exposure Can Help As Well 

According to research published in the Journal of Mental Health, if someone has experience with individuals who struggle with depression and other mental health issues, they are less likely to develop attitudes that perpetuate harmful stigmas. The more that affected people can recognize and accept their own depression, the more likely they’ll be able to accept it in others. 

It is human instinct to fear or resent something that we don’t fully understand. A lot of people lack the proper education about what depression and mental health are, and their default reaction is to distance themselves from it. But when someone actually has valuable experience with someone with mental health issues, they are more likely to understand them. 

When people resent an individual with depression or mental illness, it comes from fear of the unknown or from a denial of their own illness. Clear Behavioral Health’s professionals create a safe space for our patients, free from judgement and shame, so your loved one can heal. 

Depression in the Media 

The media has an unfortunate history of misrepresenting people who struggle with depression and other mental health issues. In the Industrial Psychiatry Journal, there is research that points to some of these trends in mass media. There are many ways that media can distort the truth about mental health. For a variety of psychiatric issues portrayed, they are often presented in a way that highlights the most extreme cases as the norm. 

It also unfairly attributes certain disorders to people based on things like gender and race, which perpetuates stereotypes. When it comes to treatment facilities and healthcare providers for those struggling with mental health, even these can be misrepresented. 

The issue of misrepresentation can have serious impacts, especially on children, who typically have heavy access to media channels. Some people grow up assuming that certain representations serve as reality. It is important to stay informed to be able to discern fact from fiction. At Clear Behavioral Health, we work with families to increase their understanding of depression and how these symptoms can manifest in a loved one’s life. 

Although there are still a lot of ongoing issues when it comes to how the media portrays depression and mental health, there are many positives out there as well. For example, as more people become educated about depression and mental illness, the film and television industry is producing more people with mental illness into their stories in accurate ways. This normalizes depression in mainstream media, which is critically important when it comes to removing damaging stereotypes from our daily culture.

Why Keep Moving Forward 

Supporting but not victimizing someone with depression is important as well. If someone stays silent because they fear what others might think, they cannot begin to receive the care they need. As more people with depression learn to step forward and share their story, the less stigmatized the disease will ultimately become. 

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with depression, it is important to seek help. Clear Behavioral Health has the resources to help you or a loved one get out of troubled times. 

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