There is stigma around mental health: fact.
But could it be that it is not as widespread or severe as we perceive it to be? A survey reported in the Lancet
of 1,000 people in 35 countries found that 25% of people with depression believe they have been avoided because of their illness. The same study found that only half of those who anticipated discrimination in the workplace or in personal relationships actually experienced it.
I have a couple of thoughts on this. Firstly, would it not make perfect sense to assume that some “stigma” is actually a projection of how a depressed person feels inside? I know that when I’m depressed I tend to feel the world is against me, that no one likes me, that if anyone knew the true state of my messy mind they would put on dark glasses and a hat and cross the street the next time they saw me. I would still know it was you in that disguise you know, just in case you are thinking about trying it. These feelings are not usually a response to reality. Yes, people can be mean and unfriendly, but they are probably mean and unfriendly towards those with stellar mental health too. Equal rights for all!
Secondly, some “stigma” is actually a reasonable response to our behaviour. It is counter-intuitive to stroke an angry porcupine. We can drive people away when we are low by sending out fairly clear “I hate you and all of your chirpy kind” signals.
So I guess what I am really saying is that perhaps instead of blaming an ignorant and prejudiced society for fearing and condemning depression (which I’m not saying it doesn’t) we could look at how we ourselves are perpetuating a bad situation. And how we could make it better.