| Wednesday, May 9, 2012
I don't understand the idea of advertising mental health services to those in need.  Would anyone advertise coma services to people in comas?  Of course not.  They're incapable of taking advantage.  Perhaps that's an extreme analogy, but I think the general trend remains.

You might recall the tragically ironic data that was found on anti-depressants, that they were increasing suicide rates.  What a strange thing.  But maybe it should have been predictable.

A starving person has low energy and isn't really in a condition to hunt.  Take off my glasses and I'll have trouble finding them.  Angry people shout and make everyone else angry.  Violence begets violence.  It's a positive feedback loop, in the sense that it builds on itself to make the problem worse.  Positive feedback in the negative direction, like multiplying a negative.

The depressed person has low energy.  It's a terrible problem because it only makes itself worse, making the basic functioning of life more difficult, let alone improvement.  The very failure at life which might justify some reduced esteem is caused by the initial reduction, and so it feeds on itself.  The medications can then restore some energy, but of course life is not immediately fixed, and so the person finally finds the energy and motivation to do what shouldn't be done.

So to loop it back to the advertising, how is a depressed person capable of using the services?  Admitting a problem, to complete strangers, talking to them, going to a strange new place, those all seem like unrealistic demands.

Maybe if they had some support it would help.  Someone to help them along.  Like a friend.  But how is the friend supposed to help when he may not even know?  That's the other problem: people maintain face.  They keep up their fronts.  In Japan there was a strange-appearing phenomenon of unemployed men, husbands often, who would dress up on their business attire and every morning, go off to somewhere and return in the evening.  It was a sad theater of keeping up the appearance.

The advertising could target the friends.  Which I suppose would be everyone.  But to say what?  Talk to your friend and see how they are.  As if that's going to do it.  Talk normally and the front is still there.  Try to break it down and most of the time you're just insulting a friend.  So what is there to do, look for warning signs?  Such as what?  Social withdrawal sounds like a place to start, but maybe they're just introverted or busy.  Failing at work or school?  Perhaps, but not failing is part of the front.  Keeping up appearances, no matter the difficulty, because it is all that is left.  It's the last line of defense against the horrible complete realization of what is going on inside one's  own head.  What an awful place for an enemy.


Syl said...

I think friends or family can only do one thing: be there. make sure the person realizes that and that they can depend on them when they choose it. you're right though that the person needs to determine that time, when he/she is open for it.
sometimes an open ear is all it takes, sometimes it needs to be a more permanent, professional support that benefits from personal distance.

either way - I guess getting to the point of admitting to oneself that help is required, is the hardest bit of the journey. the night is always darkest before the dawn. but there is no shame in admitting 'failure', if that's what you like to call it - there's no failure in admitting failure. we all fall, but we can also get back up.

maybe some of us (excluding clinical cases of depression which I know is not your topic so much) actually require such stages in their lives; to learn to be humble and more human. it's how I personally have come to think of them, for myself - and that there's something there to be learned despite the pain.

Michael said...

>Admitting a problem, to complete strangers, talking to them, going to a strange new place, those all seem like unrealistic demands.

I've had troubles with severe depression, so I've been in that exact position. I'm afraid to say that your idea of advertising appealing to friends instead of directly to the target would not at all have worked in my case.

It's just like you say about maintaining face. The people you're close to, the people whose opinions actually matter to you, are the least likely to know about those things you are ashamed of. You hide and push away people when you can't deal with them, so they never see you at your worst.

A room I'd never been in before and never would have to be again, a random, unknown person I could say something to and it would never come back to haunt me, that's the only way it could have happened.

I finally sought therapy pretty much directly in response to an advertisement for mental health services. Not a tv ad, I don't watch tv, but this wellness thingy some people were throwing, handing out flyers and posting them on boards and around where I live. Put the idea in my head. Took me another 6 months to actually do it, and I had to scout it out a bit for a month or two and chew it over first. Shrug.

BTW, don't think of the whole maintaining-face thing as necessarily a bad thing. One chooses friends by how pleasant and fun to be with they are, and tries to be pleasant and enjoyable in return. Letting people see your black moods is most likely to cost you friends, cutting you away from yet another of life's pleasures. Better to have friends and simply present the better part of yourself to them, than to be alone.

Jennifer E. said...

The best thing to do is if you have had your own personal experience with mental illness is to talk open, publicly and unashamedly about it. Only as a critical mass comes out and says yes, this has happened to me and this is my experience will the stigma go away.

I personally thank @thebloggess for talking about her experience with depression and anxiety. Because she shared, I worked up the courage to deal with mine. I am on medication and therapy now, and yes indeed life has gotten better.

Depression lies to you. Don't believe it.

Bristal said...

As a pharmacist, perhaps a somewhat jaded one, antidepressants are primarily advertised, IMO, to high functioning adults with "depression" and "anxiety" in order to sell gobs and gobs of expensive drugs.

Psychotropic drugs are invaluable at treating a variety of psychiatric disorders, as diagnosed by a mental health professional, in conjunction with regular therapy and support, and close monitoring of the drug's effectiveness.

Mass market advertising to "ask your doctor" encourages people to self diagnose and request medications, by brand name, that they know little about.

A positive aspect of direct to consumer advertising, however, is awareness and acceptance of mental disorders in general.

Anonymous said...

I recently had to get help for panic attacks. I've never had this happen before and it terrified me. I went to my Primary Care and am on medication, hopefully temporarily. I also am going to therapy because I need help that I do not get from support. I have 1 friend I can tell everything to, she lives 2000 miles away and currently has her own problems. She has an amazing support system. My family is the same distance, I've told them what I am going through, they ask about it, but are not giving me what I need. My husband is my rock, but he is also very depressed, and also only has me. I hope we will both be able to improve our lives with couples therapy. I am being very open with everyone, family, friends, coworkers about what I am going through and how I am changing. I hope they can muster the courage to do the same if they need to! andie :)

Post a Comment

Comments in posts older than 21 days will be moderated to prevent spam. Comments in posts younger than 21 days will be checked for ID.

Powered by Blogger.