Mental Health Awareness
October 08, 2012
Counsellor at the Nevis Mental Health Unit Ms. Stevee Jones called for the de-stigmatisation and discrimination of Depression, a treatable form of mental illness which she said affected some members of the Nevis community.
Ms. Jones appeal came in an interview with the Department of Information on October 05, 2012, to address the activities organised by the Unit surrounding the observance of World Mental Health Day on October 10th under the theme “Depression: A Global Crisis”.
“Depression is not something that one should shy away from. Yes it is a mental illness however we should try and remove the stigma and discrimination that is attached to such a mental illness.
“In our society some individuals think that if you have Depression you are weak minded or you do not have enough faith in God, that is not so. As I stated earlier, there are numerous causes of depression be it biological, psychological or social causes. It is important that we all get on the band wagon to support individuals who are depressed because you may be only one accident, one incident away from Depression,” she said.
The Counsellor noted that depression was a very serious form of mental illness which had far reaching effects on the family, workplace and the society and used the opportunity to shed light on the illness.
“Depression comprises of a number of characteristics such as loss of interest in daily activities, decreasing energy, loss of sex drive, lack of interest in the things that one is usually interested in decrease and or increase in appetite and change in sleep patterns. So depression can be defined as a combination of these characteristics.
“In terms of Depression, it varies from individual to individual in that you may have a number of characteristics of depression whereas another individual may have some different characteristics that basically comprise of depression for that individual. Depression can be overcome it is a treatable illness, so depression is not a life sentence,” she stated categorically.
Regarding the root causes of Depression, Mrs. Jones explained that the illness could stem from a range of situations among them stress.
“The causes of depression vary. They can be biological causes that is it could be a chemical imbalance in the brain it could be hereditary itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s in your genes you inherited from a close family member.
“Depression is also caused by stress and in our present society we have numerous stressors be it our concerns regarding crime, be it financial stresses the prices of food and other increases, relationships the stress of that. So we have the biological, we have the social stress and psychological stress,” she said.
The Mental Health Counsellor added that the illness had far reaching effects on the society and not only on the individual and his or her family. She noted that depression had the ability to decrease productivity at work and to decrease the individualÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s everyday functioning.
“For instance if you are unable to get up out of bed and you are unable to take care of your personal hygiene and do your normal day activities then it is even more of a challenge for you to go out into society and be a productive member. As a result, depression basically decreases your productivity in every single area of your life.
“If we look at the economic impact of depression, then we realise that depression has the ability to basically diminish the income coming into a household. If an individual is incapable of getting up and going out, he or she would not be able to bring an income into their family. So we see the impact of depression not only on the individual of the family but on the general economic society,” she said.
Notwithstanding, Ms. Jones stated that the Mental Health Unit treated Depression in numerous ways and counselling was the first step and if it was deemed necessary by the psychiatrist then medication was prescribed. She further explained that support was critical in the treatment process.
“One way of assisting someone who is depressed as a friend or family member it is important that you show your support. Let the individual know that you are there with them to support them with this illness. Like diabetes, like hypertension depression is an illness that is treatable.
“Social support is crucial. If you are a family or friend of someone who has mental illness it is important that you become educated on the signs and symptoms of mental illness and what you need to do to treat or to assist this individual. Another thing as a friend or family member that you can do is to support the individual.