Depression relevant & prevalent at Western

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Re: “Depression at Western”
Mar. 23, 2007

To the Editor:
Thank you for your article on depression! As a counselling student, I know all too well about the stigmas plaguing depression and other mental health issues. It’s time we take an honest look at these stereotypes, especially considering approximately 25 per cent of the population suffers from depression at some point during their lives. When you also account for those who have had or will have any other mental health problem, the percentage skyrockets. So can we really continue stigmatizing or ostracizing so many people?

Many of us still look at those who suffer from mental health issues as “Them.” As a society, we still tend to blame the individual for mental health issues, as if they are defective. The truth is, anyone can have a serious mental health problem. Blaming individuals and treating them like their problems are contagious only prevent people from seeking the help they need and deserve.

Considering the connection between mental health and physical health, showing apathy or antipathy toward individuals suffering from mental health problems is detrimental to society’s general health.

I’m sure it took lots of courage for Ben Gordon and Pedro Lopes to openly discuss their experiences with depression, and I applaud them for doing so. I also think it’s encouraging to hear the University Students’ Council health plan will include $500 in coverage for off-campus psychotherapy, especially since many private insurance companies only offer about $200 annually for such services.

Mr. Gordon, Mr. Lopes, the USC and The Gazette have gotten the ball rolling toward a more compassionate community working to promote mental health. Now it’s up to the rest of us to take that ball and run with it.
"Nilusha Liyanage
M.Ed. Counselling I


To the Editor:
Thank you for your informative and sympathetic article on depression. As someone who has suffered from this mental illness for two years, I have first-hand experience with the effects of the understaffed Student Health Services.

I lived with depression for a year before I sought help and confessed my inner turmoil. I visited my family physician regularly in the summer but was without a plan for my fall return to London. I arranged an appointment and talked to a counsellor at SHS. I was told little could be done for me at that time and was put on a waiting list.

That was in September. Now in March, I still haven’t heard anything back.

In November, I took my problems to a professional, but after my first session, I felt even more pathetic, knowing I had just paid someone $80 to listen to me complain. I couldn’t go back. Yet, I couldn’t talk to my friends or family. I felt isolated and abnormal. If I attempted conversations, I was told I should “try being happy,” as if it hadn’t occurred to me before.

Without an outlet for my frustrated feelings, my thoughts turned destructive. I was a danger to myself. I was put on antidepressants, which removed the despair but every other emotion too, so that I felt empty.

In no way do I blame Student Health Services; it simply lacks resources and isn’t at fault for my actions. But I think I’d have far fewer emotional and physical scars if there had been someone there to help me when I finally had the courage to ask for it. I hope more volunteers, programs or therapists can be added in the future.
"Anonymous Western student

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