Actress Kristen Bell has had enough
Actress Kristen Bell has had enough.
“You would never deny a diabetic his insulin and go, ‘Why can’t you process sugar on your own?’” Bell insists in an interview with Redbook magazine. Then why, she continues, are people with depression labeled as failures?
Bell, of Veronica Mars, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, and Disney’s Frozen fame, is sharing her struggles with depression and vows never to be quiet about mental illness again. She recently wrote an essay for Time magazine’s Motto, saying: “There is such an extreme stigma about mental health issues, and I can’t make heads or tails of why it exists.”
According to the World Health Organization, one in four people worldwide will deal with mental illness at some point in their life. In the United States, nearly 20 percent of the adults struggle with some form of mental illness, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.
“So why aren’t we talking about it?” Bell writes.
Dr. Judy Ronan Woodburn , a clinical psychologist with Advocate Medical Group at Advocate BroMenn Medical Center in Normal, Ill., offers one reason: “In the past, people believed that being depressed was a weakness, and that it could be overcome with enough will power.” This, she says, is simply untrue.
Dr. Woodburn explains that mental illness “is not so different than diabetes – a blood sugar level imbalance – except that the imbalance is in the brain, not the blood, and treatment often includes medications, psychotherapy and/or counseling.”
Changing the stigma and labels requires dialogue. “Psychological research indicates that attitudes are not changed simply through education,” Dr. Woodburn says. “Attitudes about people change through interactions with people. If a person has an interaction with someone who has depression, that person’s attitudes likely will change.”
The more people with mental illnesses can share their experiences, the more the stigma can be reversed, Dr. Woodburn explains.
This change may take time, but offering help doesn’t. “If you think a loved one is depressed, let them know you are concerned about them and why,” Dr. Woodburn recommends. “You do not need to diagnose the person; let the professionals do that.” She also suggests encouraging your loved one to seek assistance, and emphasizes the importance of finding solutions.
As Kristen Bell writes: “We’re all on team human here and let’s be honest—it’s not an easy team to be on.”
Professionals can provide help with mental illness, and that help should be sought without shame. Bell encourages ‘team human’ to “work together to find solutions for each other and cast some light on a dark situation.”
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