National Depression Screening Day 2016 in the USA is a nationwide initiative sponsored by Screening for Mental Health who have developed educational programmes , and provide screening for common behavioural and mental health disorders and suicide. Two of my favourite discussions on the subject provide an inspired perspective on the challenges both tinged with lessons of embracing this adversity instead of running or hiding from it…

  • Kevin Breel TED Talk “Confessions of a Depressed Comic” – “It’s the stigma inside of others, it’s the shame, it’s the embarrassment, it’s the disapproving look on a friend’s face, it’s the whispers in the hallway that you’re weak, it’s the comments that you’re crazy. That’s what keeps you from getting help. That’s what makes you hold it in and hide it. It’s the stigma…Depression is okay. If you’re going through it, know that you’re okay. And know that you’re sick, you’re not weak, and it’s an issue, not an identity, because when you get past the fear and the ridicule and the judgment and the stigma of others, you can see depression for what it really is, and that’s just a part of life, just a part of life, and as much as I hate, as much as I hate some of the places, some of the parts of my life depression has dragged me down to, in a lot of ways I’m grateful for it. Because yeah, it’s put me in the valleys, but only to show me there’s peaks, and yeah it’s dragged me through the dark but only to remind me there is light. My pain, more than anything in 19 years on this planet, has given me perspective, and my hurt, my hurt has forced me to have hope, have hope and to have faith, faith in myself, faith in others, faith that it can get better, that we can change this, that we can speak up and speak out and fight back against ignorance, fight back against intolerance, and more than anything, learn to love ourselves, learn to accept ourselves for who we are, the people we are, not the people the world wants us to be. Because the world I believe in is one where embracing your light doesn’t mean ignoring your dark. The world I believe in is one where we’re measured by our ability to overcome adversities, not avoid them. The world I believe in is one where I can look someone in the eye and say, ‘I’m going through hell,’ and they can look back at me and go, ‘Me too,’ and that’s okay, and it’s okay because depression is okay. We’re people. We’re people, and we struggle and we suffer and we bleed and we cry, and if you think that true strength means never showing any weakness, then I’m here to tell you you’re wrong. You’re wrong, because it’s the opposite. We’re people, and we have problems. We’re not perfect, and that’s okay. So we need to stop the ignorance, stop the intolerance, stop the stigma, and stop the silence.”
  • David Baddiel Sunday Times interview It’s not soft to say you’re depressed. It’s hard as hell”: “Another model of the depression-prone male: young, working class, often not from London, and with no template for talking about the disease – indeed, no sense of what it is at all…But there are legions of men out there for whom depression is a sign only of unmanliness. Suicide – particularly killing yourself by hanging (the most, for want of a better word, popular form) – can conform with something tragic, even glamorous in the mind of the man searching for manliness…I would contend that this is one of the most acutely necessary interventions of our age, not just because male depression is an epidemic, but also because the inability of men to talk about negative emotions – to discuss how in their own minds they don’t feel like men – is what drives some into the arms of movements like Isis…The most important thing is somehow to get the message out that an admission of mental frailty is manly: it’s manly because it is courageous.”