The general population is much more informed about mental illness nowadays compared to ten years ago, but is the awareness counterproductive? Mental illness is depicted to be commonplace and numerous support lines and communities have been constructed through the efforts of the awareness movement. However, with the awareness comes a sense of normality that accompanies acceptance, and this has resulted in the undermining of the serious nature of mental illness. Instances of melancholic behaviour are brushed off as “just depression” because it is such a “common” phenomenon. Statistics reported in media paint the picture of an impending plague, and the panic drove movements armed with statistics demanding changes in policies, awareness of “triggers”, and the establishment of support structures. This article does not aim to dismiss the importance of awareness. However, it aims to bring attention to the possible ways in which the movement to raise awareness has in fact excerbated the situation and in turn contirbuted to the growing crisis.

By portraying mental illness as a common and growing threat, the flair of drama acquainted with the idea of an impending crisis has in a way framed the mental illness “epidemic” or “crisis” to be a self-fulfilling prophecy. Indeed, some of the intentions that drove the mental illness awareness movement seem to have produced amiable results, one of which was to eliminate stigma so the afflicted would be more willing to seek or accept help. Support communities, forums, helplines and 24/7 chats are available, as are dedicated departments in schools and universities.

However, all this attention is not producing results any more favourable than that of the past. In fact, reported incidence and prevalence of mental illness continue to increase in national surveys. Indeed, it can be argued that this is due to more people willing to seek or accept help, in turn resulting in previously underreported numbers to increase. also reinforcing the seemingly stubborn stronghold that mental illness is beginning to ___. sometimes which seems to defy the original purpose behind awareness.

  • Has awareness of depression has caused more harm than good?
  • Should “depression” be more commonly and distinctively differentiated from clinical or major depression?
  • How can this be done without implying that one is more “important” than the other?

The point is not to dismiss or discriminate those with identity as depressed/suffering from major/clinical depression but to highlight the fatal distinction between the two so as to remind people of the graveness of the mental illness.

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Finally, someone else realises the counter-productivity of awareness.
Misinformed and easily influenced minds are not a good combo.

For that one child that does, in fact, suffer from depression, how many others think they do because it fills a void, offers an excuse, seems to be a viable explanation or some other reason?

Not to say that that one child or the significance of being able to recognise and help those in need is to be dismissed, but the way in which this is to be achieved is surely not the current flood of information, opinions and changes in policies and curriculums.

It is unfortunate how a likely good-willed intention to spread awareness and prevent the detrimental effects of mental illness has instead let it become a “popular” topic, idea, or condition… One that is romanticised and generalised to the point where in an attempt to reduce stigma, the resulting attention and acceptance has instead spiked curiosity and idealisation…

February 3, 2019. Inconplete


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