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Question of the Week

October 6, 2003

Hello!

In June, CNN brought a face of depression to those who may not follow the happenings on MTV:

"(CNN) -- Right after graduating college, aspiring actress Cara Kahn was already known on MTV's 'Real World Chicago' -- as the young woman diagnosed with depression. 'I actually started feeling symptoms of depression pretty young, the sleepiness, the anxiety, difficulty concentrating, crying spells,' she says....In addition to the symptoms Kahn experienced, major depression can also cause anxiety, fatigue, feelings of guilt or chronic body aches not explained by another physical condition, according to the NIMH....'When it was revealed on the 'Real World' that I in fact suffer from depression and take medication to treat it every day, all the feelings of depression [and] the stigma, kind of came flooding back and I was pretty embarrassed....I started getting fan letters from people across the country saying that they too suffer from depression. So, I wrote back to these people and would sort say, depression is nothing to be embarrassed about....as I'm writing all these things. I started to convince myself and realize that ... I have nothing to be embarrassed about. Depression is a real disease.'"
http://www.cnn.com/2003/HEALTH/06/20/hln.bio.cara.kahn/

"Depression is a real disease."

"Since the turn of this century, thanks in large measure to research-based public health innovations, the lifespan of the average American has nearly doubled. Today, our Nation‚s physical health˜as a whole˜has never been better....Yet, despite unprecedented knowledge gained in just the past three decades about the brain and human behavior, mental health is often an afterthought and illnesses of the mind remain shrouded in fear and misunderstanding."
http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/Library/MentalHealth/home.html

"[I]llnesses of the mind remain shrouded in fear and misunderstanding."

"...[N]ot everyone recognizes depression when it happens to someone they know. And some people have incorrect ideas about what it means to be depressed. People who don't understand may react to the depressed person's low energy with criticism, scolding them for acting lazy or not trying. Some people mistakenly believe that depression is simply an attitude a person can change or a mood they can shake. It's not that easy. Many people just don't realize that depression can cause so many problems or so much pain. Sometimes even people who are depressed don't take their condition seriously enough. Some people have the mistaken belief that depression comes from weakness or is a character flaw. This myth causes some people to hide their depression. Feeling embarrassed, they may avoid getting help."
http://www.kidshealth.org/teen/your_mind/mental_health/depression_p2.html

"Feeling embarrassed, they may avoid getting help."

"The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) released the results from the 2002 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH)...In the study there were very clear similarities in the perceived unmet need for mental health treatment amongst those individuals that are receiving general mental health services and those with Serious Mental Illness (SMI). In fact the five most reported reasons for both groups were:

  •  'Could not afford the cost'
  •  'Did not know where to go for services'
  •  'Health insurance does not pay...for mental health treatment/counseling'
  •  'Might cause neighbors/community to have negative opinion'"
National Alliance on Mental Illness

Seeking help "Might cause neighbors/community to have negative opinion..."

"The future of our country depends on the mental health and strength of our young people. However, many children have mental health problems that interfere with normal development and functioning. A 1999 study estimated that almost 21 percent of U.S. children ages 9 to 17 had a diagnosable mental or addictive disorder that caused at least some impairment. When diagnostic criteria were limited to significant functional impairment, the estimate dropped to 11 percent. Moreover, in any given year, it is estimated that fewer than one in five of these youth receives needed treatment."
http://www.nimh.nih.gov/publicat/childnotes.cfm

"[I]t is estimated that fewer than one in five of these youth receives needed treatment."

Questions of the Week:
With all of our current medical knowledge about how the brain works, why does mental illness still come with such stigma? What is the attitude toward depression in your peer group? What would it take to remove any stigma associated with depression within your peer group? What can be done to educate those who need help so that they will feel more comfortable asking for and receiving the medical care that they need? What can peers do to educate themselves so that they can better assist and support during the ongoing treatment and healing process? Would a depressed friend feel safe coming to you for help? What would you do? What should you do? Where could you find resources to help your friend in need without breaking the confidence--but also without getting in over your head?

Please email me with any ideas or suggestions.
Note: Due to increasing amounts of SPAM sent to this account, please include "QOW" in the subject line when sending me email.

Please email me with any ideas or suggestions.
Note: Due to increasing amounts of SPAM sent to this account, please include "QOW" in the subject line when sending me email.

I look forward to reading what you have to say.

Cindy
aehealth@yahoo.com
Health Community Coordinator
Access Excellence @ the National Health Museum
http://www.accessexcellence.org

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