With depression becoming more widely recognized as a valid and indeed serious mental health issue, what steps have your countries taken to bring down teenage depression, and how have they left an impact so far?
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South Korea has the highest suicide rate in the world: 1 in every 3,450 people commit suicide each year, and this number just continues to grow as time passes. Why? South Korean culture makes mental health issues a taboo — many people don't even believe in mental illness, claiming that depression or anxiety of other kinds of mental illnesses are signs of weakness. There is simply no way for people who are depressed or have other mental issues to get help, because of the tremendous stigma surrounding it.
Recently I've been reading a book called 죽고 싶지만 떡볶이는 먹고 싶어 (English translation: I want to die but I want to eat tteokbokki). In the book, the author records her conversations with her psychiatrist through her process dealing with persistent depressive disorder. This book has been very popular in Korea recently and aims to remove some of the stigma surrounding depression — in fact, it tries to paint depression as a very normal and human phenomenon, as we can't all always be perfect. I think that thanks to this book, many people in Korea have been recognizing that mental illness is not just weakness, but it's an actual disorder, and something that happens very frequently.
A few months ago, I got a little bored and found an article on mental illness in Hong Kong, which consequently led me down a rabbit hole. It turns out that Hong Kong is taking some important steps towards recognizing mental illness as a legitimate medical disorder. There was a mental health conference in 2017, which I'm sorry to say I did not attend, but I do know that a relatively new organization called MindHK invited a bunch of professors, psychiatrists, founders of multiple mental health organizations, and a few religious leaders to come speak at the conference. While it might seem obvious that mental health is a legitimate disorder, it's taken me a while to learn that other people don't believe that. I agree with Lizzie's response - that the key to helping suffering teenagers and adults is to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health - and while there's still a long way to go, I'm glad to see that other countries are beginning to aid the effort to solve the problem of mental illness.
The article: https://www.cnn.com/2018/04/29/health/mental-health-suicide-hong-kong-asia/index.html
In the US there are numerous private and non-profit organizations that target teenage depression. Most of these organizations have hotlines, pamphlets, and readily accessible symptoms and treatment options. I personally think that the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), Mayo Clinic, and Mental Health America have made the most profound impacts in this era of rapidly growing diagnoses of teenage depression. Diagnoses of depression specifically among teens have increased, which I argue is for the better. Depression Is NOT a new disease, but more people are coming to terms with their depression (coming out of their shadowed pasts, if you will). One can’t attribute all of these new diagnoses solely to a new wave of depression splashing by. Rather, with the stigma of ‘weakness‘ and other negatives surrounding depression gradually diminishing, teenagers especially are more willing to access help, which is at their fingertips: online and via phone or text. Reducing the stigma surrounding mental health is key to help suffering teenagers.
I hope that the same leaps towards a sturdier Mental Health foundation are occurring worldwide.
I appreciate the thought-provoking questions!