Young people reach out to battle depression

One in four young Singaporeans show signs of depression. Yet half of people affected by depression are not even seeking any help. The reason for not getting help? Fear of ridicule.

Some find hard it to reveal their depression because of stigma. But lately, more young people are breaking the silence to seek help for the condition. IMH treated 600 people youths between 20 to 29-years-old last year alone.

And one out of four people admitted to suffering from multiple symptoms of depression in a recent survey of youths aged 18 to 25. The study was conducted by students from Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information in NTU.

We know that depression may lead to suicide. But other times, its sufferers become less productive and are more at risk for other diseases.

PastedGraphic-4aSource: NTU Final year project/Deyong

The latest statistics on depression don’t paint a pretty picture of progress but it shows that the condition is more common than we think. Yet the stigma surrounding it walls off the victim who often suffers in silence.

A matter of trend

In the wake of actor Robin William’s death (the genius who played Aladdin’s genie and Mrs Doubtfire) the depression discussion entered our homes and conversations poured over online. A lot of people shared their own stories on social media and encouraged others to do the same.

But it did not take long for the conversation to die off once again. The fact that the Internet was clogged for awhile with people shared their own stories show that we live in more accepting times. But do we need another death of a celebrity in order to be able to talk about depression again?

The situation is far more complex than meets the eye. It is easy to talk about depression when referring to a stranger. But it takes more courage to open up and display your own vulnerability. Other times, we have no idea how to begin helping a loved one trying to come to terms with mental illness.

“Sometimes youths want to help friends and family with depression. However they don’t know how to approach the topic and are unable or reluctant to take the first step to help,” said NTU student Eunice Goh Yi Hui, who is part of the team behind the survey.

Seeking acceptance

I am far from an expert of this matter but accepting that depression has many faces is a good start to better understanding. Sometimes depression is obvious, screaming at your face. Other times, it is the quiet thoughts running through someone’s mind, someone who might not even look sad.

It is not always the extremes that you see on TV, complete with grey skies and a messy room.

What we can do as a society is to make sure that depression is no longer a taboo topic. When there is no stigma attached, people who need help can come forward if they are ready to talk about the matter.

Depression is like clockwork, winding up the mind with mechanical instinct. Like the inner spring that twists tighter and tighter, it grapples its victims until there is no more energy left. And then it sets off. Like clockwork, depression is inner working that sometimes shows no outward signs at all.

Depression can be fatal, but so is silence.

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With reference to AsiaOne , NTU final year project survey
Featured image via Victor