CHARLESTOWN: Counsellor at the Nevis Mental Health Unit (NMHU), Stevee Jones, has called for the destigmatization of depression, a treatable form of mental illness.
Jones made her statement in an interview with the Department of Information last week to address the activities organized by the NMHU surrounding the observance of World Mental Health Day on October 10 under the theme “Depression: A Global Crisis”.
“Depression is not something that one should shy away from,” said Jones. “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 bandwagon to support individuals who are depressed because you may be only one accident, one incident away from depression.”
Jones said depression was a serious form of mental illness that affects family, the workplace and society.
“Depression is comprised of a number of characteristics, such as loss of interest in daily activities, decreasing energy, loss of sex drive, 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 said.
Jones said the illness could stem from a variety of causes, including stress.
“The causes of depression vary,” she said. “They can be biological due to a chemical imbalance in the brain or it could be hereditary. Depression is also caused by stress and in our present society we have numerous stressors, be it our concerns regarding crime, financial stresses, and relationships.”
Jones said counselling is the NMHU’s first step in treating depression. If it was deemed necessary by the psychiatrist, then medication is prescribed. She said that support was critical in the treatment process.
“One way of assisting someone who is depressed as a friend or family member is to 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 throughout treatment. It is important this individual gets counselling and if medication is prescribed, encourage them to take it,” said Jones.