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I am depressed!!!

Sunu C Thomas

Many of us would have used this “I am depressed” phrase often in our life when we feel upset over something. We say “I am depressed”, so haphazardly to friends, colleagues, and others but will we ever dare say this so openly if we are actually suffering from depression. Will we ever have the courage to open up the topic and say it out to the world, “ I am experiencing depression right now” or “ I am suffering from depression”.

I will never dare say that if I am suffering from it, my parents would like to keep it as tightly capped as possible. Because I am girl, I am unmarried, I belong to a normal middle class family. I don’t have the privilege to voice my mental health problem and be applauded for talking about it openly. Like this, most of us would dare attempt to say it out to the world. Yes, we have seen celebrities opening up about their mental health problems to tear apart the stigma surrounding mental health problems. But don’t we think privilege also gives them a space to position themselves to discuss their illness. How many of the people in our streets who may be suffering from depression or any other mental illness will be able to voice it openly? When people come out talking about their issues openly in the public it will definitely give courage to some to open up about their own issues relating to mental health. But does the highly disadvantaged population who may be suffering from mental health problems be able to voice their issues openly even then? Their position forces them to keep it within themselves or within their house mostly. Have we heard a voice from the underprivileged or a person from the normal middle class society coming out and talking about his or her depression? If ever such an instance ever happen would we applaud them and celebrate them for their courage?

In my own field experiences in a rural area where I have encountered people with mental health problems have said they would like to keep their problem to themselves. They fear stigmatisation and they have children to be married off and hence would never dare their illness to be known to a third party. The stigma surrounding this forces people to go to far away place to take treatment and  be own their own. So when we actually work towards suspending the stigma surrounding mental health problems have we gone to the grassroots level and inquired about whether these measures help them? I found that the ability to recognise depression actually reduced stigma for men, but not women.1 We have a long way to go to reduce the stigma associated with mental health, particularly for women and recognising and naming it is a good way to start.

1Thomas, S.C. (2014). Mental health literacy survey to assess the knowledge and beliefs about mental disorders in the rural community. http://dspace.sctimst.ac.in/jspui/handle/123456789/2469