You might be surprised to learn that it is very likely you know someone who is suffering from or who has suffered from depression. It is one of the most common mental health conditions to affect people all over the world, including Americans. Depression can lead to job loss, failure in school, financial devastation, divorce, and even suicide. It does not discriminate: It can affect children, teenagers, new mothers, middle-aged adults, the elderly, and anyone else. Rich people, poor people, healthy people, and sick people can all suffer from depression.
Unfortunately, the condition is often not diagnosed or treated. Raising depression awareness can help people who are affected by the disease; this includes not only those suffering from depression personally but also their family members and friends. Here are some ways you can help raise depression awareness and, in turn, assist those living with this condition.
Share Your Thoughts and Experiences
If you have been affected by depression, sharing your experiences can help raise depression awareness. Many people who have depression or who have had family members who suffered from depression keep their experiences a secret. There is a stigma when it comes to mental health issues, and those who are going through them tend to keep the information private. While this is, of course, always your right and prerogative, if you feel comfortable sharing that you have dealt with the mental illness, it can help others to see that their everyday friends and acquaintances might be going through similar struggles.
One common belief about depression is that it only affects certain types of people, such as those who are struggling with a serious physical health condition or those who are in very difficult situations. Particularly if you have struggled with depression without one of those factors (which can, in fact, contribute to the condition), sharing your thoughts and experiences can help change people’s minds about who the illness affects and how it manifests.
Address Myths and Discriminatory Language
There are many myths surrounding depression. One that has already been mentioned is that depression discriminates and only affects people who have certain characteristics. Some people think that those with depression are non-functional. They assume that if a person has a job or is active in the community, they can’t possibly have depression. Others believe that those with depression symptoms are seeking attention or faking it. Addressing some of those myths when you hear them is a great way to raise depression awareness and inform people in a kind and loving way.
People sometimes unintentionally use hurtful language. For example, they might describe someone as “crazy” or “insane” when they are suffering from depression or another mental illness. Sometimes they describe people who do not have a mental health condition as “mentally ill” because they are saying or doing something that the person disagrees with. Pointing out this hurtful language can help raise the awareness that those suffering from depression and other types of mental health issues are worthy of kindness and respect.
Related: 5 Common Mental Health Myths Debunked
Encourage People to Get Screened
One of the best ways to help someone with depression is to encourage them to get screened. People who struggle with mental health conditions might not be able to detect their own symptoms. They often know that something is not right but might not realize that they are depressed. Encouraging them to get screened for depression can make them aware of their symptoms and might lead them to seek treatment. Remember, depression is very treatable. With the right lifestyle changes, therapies and, in some cases, medications, those with depression can feel better and lead more productive and fulfilling lives.
Individuals can take an online screening, print out the results, and take them to their physician. They can also ask their general physician to screen them. These screenings will allow the doctor to refer them to the appropriate specialist for treatment if needed.
Reach Out to Others
If you have a friend who is struggling with depression, don’t hesitate to reach out to them. One of the effects of depression is that it can cause loneliness. The person might not want to make plans with friends or even leave their bedroom. By reaching out, however, you can help them feel heard and valued. You might be able to convince them to see a doctor for treatment, but even if you can’t, you can give them hope that they will one day feel better. Encouraging others in your community to rally around those with depression can spread awareness, as well as spread empathy and goodwill.
Share How to Get Help
In addition to encouraging people to be screened for depression, you can share how someone can get help. Those who show no outward signs of depression or those who have family members or friends who are struggling with depression will likely appreciate knowing where they can get help for themselves or their loved one.
Those who are experiencing a crisis such as feeling suicidal can call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. This call is free and the people who answer the phone can help someone in the midst of their crisis. That might entail referring them to a mental health clinic or doctor. In some cases, it will entail calling the police if the individual is in imminent danger of suicide or self-harm.
Teenagers can go to their parents, a trusted teacher, or the guidance counselor or school social worker for help. Many workplaces have mental health assistance available, either as a counselor on the premises or as a free hotline that employees can call. Any doctor, walk-in clinic, or emergency room can also help people get the help they need. You can make this information known so that those who need help can get it.
Start Raising Depression Awareness Today
Raising depression awareness can make your community a safer place for those with mental illnesses of all kinds. It can also literally save a life; since depression is a leading cause of suicide, helping people get their depression treated is a great step toward reducing the number of suicides in your area.