a blog about mental illness and community

Source: SoulPancake

Get a load of this!

MTV has announced it will air Life Continued: Defeating Depression at 7pm tomorrow to commemorate World Mental Health Day.

Life Continued: Defeating Depression is a 60-minute special produced by Rainn Wilson’s SoulPancake.

The documentary goes inside the lives of two young people from different parts of the US who have fought their way through severe mental health struggles.

It’s certainly not all doom and gloom though. The youngsters found hope and a path to recovery by seeking treatment and drawing strength from those around them.

The short doco responds to the fact that suicide is the third-leading cause of death among people aged 15-24.

It aims to empower viewers facing mental illness to get help or to support friends in need.

“Depression can be debilitating, and many teens and young adults are struggling to find their way to mental health,” Rainn Wilson said.

“SoulPancake is excited to partner with MTV to tell the brave stories of two college students who found their way out of the darkness. We hope this special can inspire viewers to seek help and support, and find the courage to heal.”

Reject Laguna Beach and watch Life Continued instead – at least on World Mental Health Day.

You can check out my post on the truth about suicide here.

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Source: Mental Health Association Australia

Today marks the start of Mental Health Week.

Mental Health Week is an annual national awareness event created to engage communities in activities which promote good mental health and increase understanding of the needs, experiences and issues concerning people with a mental illness.

It’s organised by the Mental Health Association Australia, and encompasses a wide range of initiatives throughout the country.

One major event is happening in Brisbane from 6:30am this Sunday at Kangaroo Point. The Mental Health Week Walk aims to raise awareness of depression and other mental illnesses.

So why not register? There’ll be live music, kids’ entertainment and a BBQ lunch to reward your support.

You can find a list of other Mental Health Week activities here.

Another great source of info and events related to psychological health – not just this week, but throughout the whole year – is the Mental Awareness Foundation.

It’s time to get out into the October sunshine and do something within your community to reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness.

Not only is Mental Health Week an important initiative, it’s the best excuse you can get for boosting your own serotonin stocks.

Sketching stigma

Want to learn about stigma as it applies to bipolar disorder?

Look no further than this ace video from the research team at Crest BD.

While this clip focuses on bipolar, the three-tier model can be applied to any mental illness.

To use anorexia as an example:

  • Self stigma: not accepting the diagnosis of anorexia, internalising negative stereotypes, blaming oneself for being ‘weak’
  • Social stigma: other people in society expressing views that anorexia is not a legitimate mental illness or is all about ‘vanity’
  • Structural stigma: lack of employment and healthcare opportunities, unhelpful media images invalidating anorexia

With more short and sweet educational videos like this one, stigma doesn’t stand a chance!

NB: I got the idea for this post from a great blog I discovered yesterday, Marci, Mental Health, & More.

Maslow's hierarchy of needs

A central tenet of Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) is the importance of creating a life worth living.

One way to do this is to work upwards through Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.

In 1943, Abraham Maslow penned ‘A Theory of Human Motivation’ – a paper that revolutionised psychological theory.

Maslow believed that people are motivated to achieve certain needs.

When one need is fulfilled, a person seeks to fulifil the next.

According to SimplyPsychology writer Saul McLeod:

“Every person is capable and has the desire to move up the hierarchy toward a level of self-actualisation.  Unfortunately, progress is often disrupted by failure to meet lower level needs. Life experiences including divorce and loss of job may cause an individual to fluctuate between levels of the hierarchy.

Maslow noted only one in a hundred people become fully self-actualised because our society rewards motivation primarily based on esteem, love and other social needs.”

The Hierarchy of Needs has strong ties to mental health.

Nothing like a denial of physiological needs, safety, loving relationships and self-esteem to fire up the old depression furnace.

For people with mental illness, it’s not so much a deliberate plan to be “less than you are capable of being” than a constant fight to be the best you can be despite immense barriers to self-actualisation.

What are your thoughts on Maslow’s pyramid?

Source: flickr

Speaking of ‘your story’, why not share your experience of mental illness?

Maybe you suffer from PTSD.

Maybe you’re recovering from an eating disorder.

Maybe you’re the child, sibling or caregiver of someone with depression.

Whatever your connection to mental illness and the fight against stigma, your voice is invaluable.

Looking for inspiration? You can read about Alta’s experiences of severe anxiety here.

Source: flickr

Mental illness has nothing to do with personal weakness.

It’s a product of biopsychosocial factors, including off-kilter brain chemistry.

Source: Psychology Today

So if ever you’re struggling and someone tells you to “pull your socks up” or “stop being such an attention-seeker”, direct them to the biopsychosocial model.

We can’t control how closed or open-minded other people are about matters of mental health, but every bit of education counts.

And if all else fails, slip the sceptic a chill pill.

You can read one of my previous myth-busting posts, Fact versus fiction on bipolar and depression, here.

BuzzFeed, that web-based conglomerate of pop culture awesomeness, has outdone itself by compiling 21 comics that capture the frustrations of depression.

And believe me, every one of the featured cartoonists has nailed it.

Depression is associated with lethargy, low mood, excessive guilt, hopelessness, and loss of interest in activities that were once fun.

These symptoms, and many more aspects of depression, are explored in BuzzFeed’s compilation.

Source: Sylvie Reuter

There’s a saying: misery loves company.

If that’s true, why do most people suffering from depression feel so utterly alone?

Maybe, secretly, we all feel the same way…

That’s why it’s so important to speak up about mental illness and kick stigma to the curb.

Honesty can’t cure depression or any other psychological ailment (darn!), but it can make the burden easier to bear. The same goes for comics.

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