On air: Should you be open about your mental illness ?


It was terribly sad listening to the friends, family, fans and colleagues of Robert Enke this week.
The German goalkeeper committed suicide on Tuesday, and for some there was the shock of not knowing how long he’d battled depression.

For others, especially his wife,  (below)there teresa enkewas the sorrow that ultimately he’d been unable to overcome his illness.

Several particulars of his wife’s story though have resonated with many of you who either have mental health problems or know others who do. They had adopted a young child recently and Robert Enke was terrified that if the authorities knew of his depression they would take the child away.enke tributes

He’d also chosen to keep his illness to himself. Even players and coaching staff he knew well had no idea.

Here’s an article from Mathew Syed, a WHYS contributor about success and despair in sport standing side by side.


Can you understand why he took those decisions? Was he right to fear the consequences of being open about his depression?

I remember reading Marcus Trescothick’s excellent book about the debilitating mental illness which ended a superb batsman’s (left) England career.

And it’s not just about sport. I have suffered from depression for many many years and though i’m not comparing my experiences to the despair evidently felt by Robert Enke (or the breakdowns suffered by Marcus Trescothick) – i decided with a previous team to tell them about what was going on and why – at the time – i needed some time off for treatment.

The reactions were interesting ; some (and not necessarily the ones i thought) were supportive, some were not.

Two things happened in the days afterwards ; some people told me in private about their own mother/sister/friend’s  problems with mental health (asking me to keep it secret) and some complete strangers from elsewhere in the BBC offered touching support.

I’m still not sure if i had my time again, i’d have done it.  Even with an employer as brilliant and supportive as the BBC, it was still hard.

One friend of Ros’s told him this week that she knows of psychiatrist in the UK who advises all his patients to keep their problems secret from their employer because he believes it may jeopardise their career.

Here’s a Washington Post piece on the “should you tell ?” debate.

Though it’s difficult for some of you to hear, we’re also aware that there are others who think that mental illness is not comparable with physical illness and as such should be kept private as it’s not as serious and not worthy or proper consideration.

Your experiences and views are welcome.

73 Responses to “On air: Should you be open about your mental illness ?”

  1. 1 Dennis Junior
    November 13, 2009 at 14:42

    I have to agreed with Ros’ friend suggestion regarding keeping the MENTAL HEALTH ILLNESS in secret, because it often leads to jeopardy in your career….

    =Dennis Junior=

  2. 2 nelson kampala
    November 13, 2009 at 14:52

    Lose my job and become a laughing stock of everyone around me, personally no.
    I have to think about my family and how i`ll support them and forget about myself. plus I can get treatment without it ever becoming an issue, am sure there are many psychiatrists and counsellors around.

  3. 3 Dennis Junior
    November 13, 2009 at 14:59


    *Was he right to fear the consequences of being open about his depression?*

    Yes, he was very much right to have fear about the seriousness of the consequences of his depression…

    =Dennis Junior=

  4. November 13, 2009 at 15:00

    You can not be open about something you don’t truly realize you have. Many people on antidepressants feel they are fine, until the moment they are not fine. I have seen the “snapping” of some one on SSRIs”. It is incomprehensible. “What just happened” goes through your mind.

    The reality is that antidepressants are being found to be as responsible for suicide as often as the depression itself. Note every time you see a commercial for one they spend 15 seconds telling you how good they will make you feel, and then 1 min. telling you about all the dangerous side affects. According to the FDA Bipolar Personality Disorder is most of, and dangerously, diagnosed as depression. The problem is that nobody goes to the doctors and says, “you know doc, I am feeling too good. I mean I am on top of the world”.

    In the US we are not allowed as close family members and friends to sit down with their doctor and have a discussion about irrational abnormal behavior. Laws such as HIPAA “protects” us from doing that. Even though every antidepressant come with the protocol to “screen for bipolar”, “watch for signs of mania” and top do this by “keeping in contact with patience family and caregiver.” See the catch 22.

    A doctor who tells you not to tell people about your depression is acting in malice. And this young man is probably a victim of an environment where these dangerous drugs are handed out like candy without any understanding of how they work.

    • November 13, 2009 at 17:34

      I’m sorry to disagree with you, but as a person who works for a charity with many patients that have mental health issues I can say with ABSOLUTE certainty that you DO have the ability to sit down with a medical health professional and discuss YOUR concerns for the patient. HIPPA bars mental health professionals from discussing patient conditions in specific, but NOTHING prevents them from listening to your concerns and addressing these concerns with the patient in their private sessions. My own husband has battled clinical depression for many years now, and I am very grateful that I had been encouraged to speak openly with his doctors about my concerns. The doctors did NOT give me ANY information or opinions in return, but were glad to have more insight into my husband’s condition, especially since he is well known by his medical care providers to be very reticent in sharing desperately needed information. It also helps if you begin the conversation with the provider by stating that you are well aware of HIPPA, and NOT looking for information FROM the provider, merely to share your concerns with them!

      • November 17, 2009 at 16:06

        well explain that to my wife’s doctor. Shortly after being put on Prozac, my loving caring compassionate wife turned into something I don’t recognize. I wrote a nice letter and gave the good doctor some examples of all the symptoms of mania/ hypomania she exhibited. Arrested for violence, engaging in risky sexual behavior, extreme spending, increased consumption of alcohol, thoughts of suicide, agitation. It started getting to be routine that I would walk in the door and my wife would hand me the baby and say, “her take her. I can’t take it, I just want to shake her.” I really didn’t put the pieces together until after the assault. Of course by then my wife had filed for divorce. The doctor told me to write this stuff down and give it to her in a letter. Of course my wife I am sure told her that none of it was true and that I am just hurt because she is divorcing me. The good doctor upped her prescription and put her on birth control.

        You sound like you had a good doctor. But the reality is that there are many of us out here who struggle to get the doctor’s ear, just to get ignored. go here. http://www.topix.net/forum/drug/effexor/TQ4I2UR28DFD3N759 and read a few dozen of them.

  5. 7 Gary Paudler
    November 13, 2009 at 15:51

    Are you crazy? Some people can be surprisingly compassionate but, in my experience, most are unwilling to extend empathy or understanding. My wife had a large circle of, what she was sure were, very good friends. After her daughter died of injuries sustained in a fire, most of her friends were never to be heard-from again. Not a letter of condolence let-alone any expression of support; my wife was a bummer, can’t let that intrude on our special lives. So, in this society, at least, I would definitely consider it a mistake to be open about mental illness or any acute emotional issues. I would like to think that other societies people are more used to pulling together but I’d love to hear of one where mental illness is addressed openly and without shame.

  6. 8 Elizabeth C from Ohio
    November 13, 2009 at 15:54

    I completely understand this issue. I have mental health issues. It took me a long time to tell anyone about it. In fact most of my friends, family, and co-workers still don’t know about them; though I suspect they have a strong suspicion. I regret telling many of the people that I told. They treat me different and many are pressuring me to take medication that I do not want and that my counselor isn’t sure I need. My conclusion is that you should be open in order to get help, but be careful who you tell and how you tell them. You also need to be assertive when it comes to treatment. Don’t be afraid to speak up. Don’t be afraid to say no.

  7. 9 Tara Ballance
    November 13, 2009 at 16:05

    I was diagnosed with clinical depression in 1995, and have been on antidepressant medication since then.

    My first reaction to the diagnosis was one of relief: I had known for years that there was a misfit between me and the world, and I finally had a medical explanation that made sense.

    I was one of the lucky people who was prescribed the right medication on the first go-round, and I was in psychotherapy from the right psychologist. I also had good support systems in place, both in real life and on-line.

    My diagnosis and treatment have resulted in a miraculous change for the better in the quality of my life.

    As long as society doesn’t want to talk about the dirty little secret of mental illness, it will continue to destroy lives. That is why I refuse to be silent about my experience with clinical depression. Each time I speak up about it, I share the message that there is hope, that there can be an end to the mental anguish, that you are not alone in suffering this disease.

  8. 10 David
    November 13, 2009 at 16:05

    Tell, but select who you tell and make sure the person you tell has the capacity to find you some help.

  9. 11 Nigel
    November 13, 2009 at 16:08

    I thought that the enlightened view is that depression is not any longer considered as a “mental illnes’ and rather defined as ‘clinical depression’ and classed like other chronic illnesses such as diabetes, hypertension etc. My wife suffers with periodic post menopausal depression and there are few more mentally stable people than her even during the worst of her episodes. One of the stablizing factors is the understanding of her close family and friends and her ability to talk openly about it.

  10. 12 miriamhyde54
    November 13, 2009 at 16:21

    This is going to be long…

    I have Bipolar Disorder and Generalized Anxiety Disorder. I was diagnosed with depression as a young child, and several other psychiatric disorders through the years. I am now 55, and have suffered more losses than anyone should ever have to, including losing custody and having little contact with my children for a long time. Jobs, friends – even family members ostracized me. I have been hospitalized more than 10 times – including a state hospital. Many suicide attempts, and several when I came this close to not making it back. Nonetheless, I am a strong, open, and vocal advocate and educator for, to and about people with mental illness.

    Keeping secrets means staying sick. Keeping secrets means not getting the help and support needed to live a full and productive life, even if that means getting the assistance you may need to accomplish that. Keeping secrets means never believing you have a chance for a future, for your dreams, for doing anything meaningful and important for yourself. Keeping secrets means you’re playing right into society’s notions and stigmatization of mental illness and the mentally ill.

    I stopped doing that many years ago.

    I don’t believe in the word “recovery” when it comes to psychiatric disorders; they never go away. But thankfully, there are so many treatment options available today that there is almost no reason for most folks with mental illness to not stabilize to some level and live lives similar to others.

    Admittedly, sometimes none of these treatments work…but most often, it’s because someone is unwilling to use them, for fear of being “caught”. Psychiatric medications are difficult to take and many have serious side effects, such as obesity. Another common reason is that most insurances don’t pay much for psychiatric treatment. With the mess in health care in America, even the (oh my goodness!) “government” and health and human services programs get cut first.

    It is long past due to stop being ashamed – or shaming a person – because of an illness or disorder that they didn’t bring on themselves. Explain why it is OK that someone who has been negligent of their health and is overweight, has high cholesterol and drinks 5 sodas a day to be “pitied” and cared for when they any chronic disease any different than taking medication for a psychiatric disorder?

    It’s probably higher now, but statistics prove 1 in 4 people are or will be touched by mental illness. Psychiatric disorders are the leading cause of disability. People with mental illness die an average of 20 years sooner than their peers; often because of other health complications, which just as often, are caused by medication. Almost 550,000 Americans either attempt or complete suicide.

    How many more lives have to be lost before it’s OK to come out of the shadows? My sympathy to the family and friends of Mr. Enke.

  11. November 13, 2009 at 16:24

    First of all, my thoughts and prayers are with the family of Robert Enke. No one knows the pressures that family endured for the past six years.

    In theory, people live in a world that create different societies, but in reality, people live a society where they create their own little worlds…and within those worlds, some people are never accepted.

    We see people on a daily basis accept and forgive character flaws and imperfections that are discovered in entertainers, government leaders and sports figures. But mental illness is a more difficult sell.

    It is unfortunate that we live in a time where the amount of acceptance is contingent on the degree of perfection. The sad part is that he was accepted by all the people he was surrounded by–but he was still alone.

    This story should be a wake up call. The fear of being judged is daunting. Open your eyes–look around–look in the mirror.

    November 13, 2009 at 16:31

    My feelings mirror those of Gary Paudler in the above post.
    This case talks more about the society rather than the increasing number of victims who opt for this option. Most of the posting here can actually be used as a barometer of those society. Mordernists continue to refute the fact that there is lonliness out there on increase as our societies contiue to set image goals which are totally inhuman. ‘I won’t let people know’ is what you hear. This ignorance emphasizes hiding so that you can enjoy your false satisfaction in privacy even if you feel a total wretch. To lend credense to this, we have developed enough venoms of prejudice to maintain that status quo. victims are made to police themselves and what you hear is, ‘I am okay’ even when facts are against you. What we forget and one needs to see what Gary Paudler has pointed out, is that in these kind of maladies, humane socialization, understanding and sharing is often the best medicine.

  13. November 13, 2009 at 16:36

    To those who feel they shouldn’t tell, or don’t think it is my right to know,

    Would you like to have known the mental illnesses of Andrea Yates (Drowned her 5 children), Susan Smith (drowned her 2 children), Erik Harris (Shooter at Columbine High School that killed 12 students), William Cho (Killed 32 people at Virginia Tech), or the countless less then high profile incidents that have taken the lives of more then just the people who suffer from these illnesses. Simply do a search for these names followed by the word “depression” and you will find that these events could have been avoided. But we the public need better educated on what the cause of depression and the validity behind the science of the treatment is.

    I believe our treatment of depression is creating these monsters. It isn’t the fault of the people who sought help. But the very moment they ingest one of these “miracle cures” for depression, a person becomes a threat to me and my family. That I should know about.

    Let us put it this way. Let us say that your neighbor has a heart condition. He goes to the doctor where they give him this medication that fixes this condition over time. The downside is that it has been shown that in 1% of the cases people developed tendencies towards sexual deviance. A reaction that is caused by stimulation of the right brain nerve centers. This has included people to become child molesters. You have a couple of young children. Do you think you have a right to know about your neighbor’s treatment?

  14. 16 Karsten from Germany
    November 13, 2009 at 16:51

    Keeping mental problems secret is understandable if cou consider the problems it could cause with your fellows. They might not be able to cope with that and leave you completely alone thus even further isolating you from everything that is going on… But on the other hand, you will not get any support from those around you who want to stretch aout their hands to help you. Recently I had such a case at my school: A pupil had not told anybody about her problems before it was too late… Only her psychologist and her mother had known about her fears. Finally she quit school without her diploma, because none of the teachers had been able to help her not knowing where her real problems came from. Consequently, hiding behind a wall can’t solve the problems, no, it will even make things worse!

    November 13, 2009 at 16:54

    Privacy has been taken too far these days. To talk to some people is like an excersise self sensorship because you don’t want to be seen to be odd or offending. I think this is what is actually leading to this prolonged private suffering which might result in a catastrophy. It is the hight cost of being overly smart.
    Currently, I don’t think things are moving in the right direction even here in Africa. Most people encourage posturing which they think is rewarding. The circle of close family ties friends is continually diminishing till one is left completely alone.
    I don’t think he took the right decisions but rather chose to take route of convinience.

  16. 18 gary
    November 13, 2009 at 17:15

    A significant percentage of the general population doesn’t have sufficient mental flexibility to accept people with simple physical differences, much less behavioral ones. Thus disclosure of a mental health condition, which may seem like a perfectly reasonable thing in theory, usually has poor results. I think only health care professionals need to know

  17. 19 Vicki
    November 13, 2009 at 17:17

    You bet I’m open about my severe depressive disorder! How else are the stereotypes and hidden discrimination ever going to be defeated?

    Now, I understand that not everyone feels safe in being open about mental illness. On the other hand, I have a lot less to lose than most people, and if being open about SDD makes life easier for those who follow me, then I’ve done at least a bit in dispelling the myths.

    I’ve found that almost universally, my disclosures are met with curiosity and at least some empathy. People ask questions about living with depression, and I’m more than happy to answer them. They ask basic questions, such as, “How can you tell when you’re not just bummed out?” Having gone through several cycles, that’s a question I can easily answer. I’m asked about antidepressants and their effects, and I can answer those, too, having been on several. I’m asked about therapy, and there’s another area I’m experienced in.

    The worst responses I’ve ever gotten are inevitably from people who confuse clinical depression with psychopathological behavior. Then I get to explain the difference between being severely depressed and being out-and-out psychotic.

    As far as fearing for my job or career, no, I don’t. None of my bosses has ever given me reason to, and those are usually the first people I tell. They need to know, so that if I’m having a bad day, or a day where I just can’t come in at all, I’m not unjustly penalized for it. And for those living in the US, we DO have the ADA and antidiscrimination laws.

    TO: Elizabeth C from Ohio

    Just tell those who are bugging you about getting on meds that that’s a decision for you and your doctor, thank you very much. Just because we tell people about *our* illness, doesn’t automatically make *them* authorities on it. They can suggest all they want, but WE have the option of not listening. 😉

  18. 22 Dennis Junior
    November 13, 2009 at 17:20

    I understand “miriamhyde54” is coming from…But, in most cases; A person who has a mental illness has to take into consideration when possible the consequences of revealing it to the general public…for fear of losing public acknowledgment in his/her career…or other aspects of life…..

    =Dennis Junior=

    • 23 miriamhyde54
      November 13, 2009 at 18:18


      You’re right, I’ve risked a lot by being so open. The thing is, I lost a lot more when I tried to keep it quiet. The problem is not that I talk as much as I can about it, but rather, the ignorance and biases of society.

      Society has not grown much since the days of Bedlam…

    • 24 Vicki
      November 13, 2009 at 18:39

      But, Dennis, who said anything about the general public? The general public needs to be educated about mental illness, yes, but there’s no requirement that says that we who suffer need to open our souls to one and all.

      Obviously, I can only speak for myself here, but frankly, “public acknowledgment” means absolutely zip-squat to me. I don’t give a damn WHAT the public thinks of me. My career has not suffered from disclosing my condition to my employers, in a number of different jobs (and no, my condition had nothing to do with my leaving).

      If someone thinks less of me for a brain-chemical imbalance, then I’d say that the problem is theirs, not mine. I was doing ok before they got here, and I’ll still be doing ok after they’re gone. Phoo on ’em. I’ve got my own problems! 🙂 And I’m willing to bet the mortgage that those people have one or two problems of their own–not least of which are immaturity and a lack of empathy. I should care what they think?

  19. 25 Monica
    November 13, 2009 at 17:33

    I’ve lost more than one person to suicide in my life. I’d like to say yes- being open is better. But for some people, its just not possible. A dear friend who took his life over the summer never showed signs of any problems. Even on his company blog the day before he was upbeat and chipper, talking about plans for some event with the company happening the next day. His closest friends had no idea anything was wrong. His family had no idea. Then all of a sudden he is found, dead by pills… in his home. We are all still grieving, still in shock. I wish so much he had told SOMEONE… said SOMETHING.

    Please go to http://www.outofthedarkness.org/ for help. That’s US… Hopefully other countries have organizations similar to this.

  20. 26 brinda
    November 13, 2009 at 17:54

    I think all said and done,,,,,,,,,,,,,, very few people understand what mental illness stands for.

    since ignorance rules when it comes to mental illness it is left to a persons judgment to see how accepting and understanding people around are. Espl employers.

    • 27 Ronald Almeida
      November 15, 2009 at 16:40

      The insane are the last one’s to know they are, does that not include every one of us. WE all were fine till so called progress came along and gave names to illnesses we never had.

  21. November 13, 2009 at 18:42

    I passionately believe that everyone should speak openly about their mental illness. Everyone has to learn that it is real illness – an illness in the brain – and not anything that people can prevent happening to them. Just because it is not visible like a physical illness doesn’t mean it is any less debilitating. One in four people will suffer from it during their life – the same statistic as cancer – and if people are too afraid to seek help then we will continue to read about suicides as in the sad case of Robert Enke. We have to get rid of the stigma and service users can help to do this by speaking out as the celebrities are doing.

  22. November 13, 2009 at 18:43


    Our organisation is the National Survivor User Network and, briefly, our remit is ‘to create a network which will engage and support the wide diversity of mental health service users and survivors across England in order to strengthen the user voice.’

    It’s a shame that we received the invitation to take part in the programme far too late as, in my own experience, there are large numbers of mental health service users in the UK that are proud to wear their categorisations on their sleeve.

    We have had, for the past 40+ years, ever growing numbers of service user organisations determined to eliminate the stigma surrounding mental health labels and currently, I would say, we are having a modicum of success. UK government policies around patient centred health services and ULOs – User Led Organisations assists this.

    In addition, the Disability Discrimination Act 2005 strengthened the existing legislation to include mental health and this is gradually going some way to minimise discrimination, such as that practiced by employers – they still invariably do it but one of these days I hope there will be court action against this.

    NSUN tries to bring these survivor and service user voices together so that there is ever more peer to peer support. We don’t interfere with the way service users organise themselves nor do we try to advise or tell others what to do and how to do it. We do build on existing knowledge, capacity, structures and practice within the survivor and user movement to increase its effectiveness.

    The more of our kind of activity, the fewer tragedies like Robert Enke.



  23. 30 Denise in Chicago
    November 13, 2009 at 19:06

    I would rather not know about the mental illnesses of others. It is really up to the individual to get help for themselves. If I have an illness, I get it taken care of and don’t ask for special consideration from others. Why should someone with an emotional or mental condition not do the same. There is way too much sharing of personal information today. These things should be kept private.

    • 31 miriamhyde54
      November 13, 2009 at 19:58


      I’m going out on a limb and guessing that you’ve never been ill with something that you needed help with.

      I hope you never do, because staying slient about heart disease, diabetes, cancer – whatever – will only kill you faster.

      It is attitudes like yours that keep so many from getting treatment. Yes, sometimes, we do need allowances. When I was working, I needed time off to see my doctors. I made it up by working extra hours during the week. Had I not said anything during my interview, I wouldn’t have been given the accommodations. Because of them, I was able to work full-time, pay taxes, etc. Without them, I would have been back in the hospital. Or dead.

      I choose to talk, and talk, and talk…and write, and do public appearances, interviews – whatever – to bring psychiatric disorders to the foreground. It is only by educating others like yourself that we have any chance to live our lives as you do yours.

      • 32 Denise in Chicago
        November 13, 2009 at 20:08

        On the contrary, Miriam, I’ve dealt with serious illnesses more than once in my life and I chose to not share the details with all my co-workers. If I needed time off for doctors or hospital stays, I used sick and vacation time. I made the choice to be strong and I would do it again.

  24. 33 steve
    November 13, 2009 at 19:12

    This is a difficult situation. I had a discussion with someone about bipolar disorder, and someone who hadit, I had stated that “Bipolar is a very serious mental problem” and she went absolutely ballistic because I used the term “mental problem”. We even have an issue of political correctness involved in this..

  25. 34 Elias
    November 13, 2009 at 19:17

    Ther are verious types of mental illnesses, some manageable some that are so severe as to drive a person to commit suicide which seems to be the case that Robert Enke suffered. Whilst it is better not to tell one’s employers of one’s suffering from mental illness it is a fact the relatives of a mentally ill person also suffer in seeing him or her suffering from acute depression every day of their lives and feel helpless in trying to help. If doctors and the drugs cannot cure a
    person suffering, it is hell for the sufferer.
    Its a shame that Robert Enke on the one hand was a goalkeeper with a promising and lucrative career was driven to commit suicide and my sympathy goes out to his wife who must feel deeply saddened by his death.

  26. 35 Ann
    November 13, 2009 at 19:18

    I have been dealt the cards of depression in this life. My greatest battle is hiding it in daily life, out of respect for others’ issues and to merely exist successfully at work. Even with meds, by the time I return home at night I am exhausted from pretending everything is ok. My life is an endless search for joy.

  27. 36 Tom K in Mpls
    November 13, 2009 at 19:18

    There are so many subtleties and facets to this, it makes a bad topic. It is a question of the person and the people they deal with. Some should know all, most should only know what is related to the relationship.

  28. November 13, 2009 at 19:20

    There are ads fronted by a former New Zealand international rugby player about depression: http://www.youtube.com/user/depressionnz

  29. 38 steve
    November 13, 2009 at 19:21

    Being open, or even visitinig a therapist can be a career killer for people, especially people in pilots or law enforcement. They will lose their jobs. I have a relative who is a pilot, and has depression, but if he sees a shrink, he will have his pilot’s license revoked. Of course this is for safety reasons, as they don’t want people will mental disorders placing other people at risk, if he sought help, he would lose his livelihood. Something tells me that would make depression worse.

    Maybe a football team is different, but people ereally don’t discuss personal lives with coworkers. it’s not related to the job you are there to do.

  30. 39 Eric
    November 13, 2009 at 19:24

    I’m a 20 year old who has been battling Anorexia and Depression for almost 6 years, and I stopped telling people that I have mental issues because they treat me completely differently then before I told them, most of them don’t know how to respond ( eating disorders in males are widespread but the general public doesn’t know that and treat those who have on as if they are some sort of freak)

    People always think that i’m some weakling and need help doing everything, which is not the case at all, i’m a full time student in my 3rd year of college, and work 40 hours a week at a very demanding and stressful job, I can do it, i’m miserable most of the time while doing it, but I do everything extremely well. Proof that people with mental problems aren’t “weak”.

    I haven’t told my coworkers, they know there is something about me that is “wrong”, but that’s it. My parents know and always try to push me to treatments that i’m not comfortable with, most of my friends don’t know, and the ones i’ve told either have stopped talking to me because of the issues i’ve had or treat me much differently.

    Telling people has done nothing positive for me, that’s why I stopped telling people about my mental issues.

  31. 40 Amy
    November 13, 2009 at 19:24

    I wish there was more support in the medical community for those with depression and other mental illnesses. My husband is a physician who struggles with depression, but hbe refuses to seek treatment for fear of losing his job or being labeled negatively in the community. I fear for his wellbeing.

    • November 13, 2009 at 19:45

      Hello AMY:
      There are very effective ways of treating depression that is not with medications, I am a Naturopathic Doctor and I primarily work with depression, anxiety, insomnia, etc. I recommend you to check the book Mood cure by Julia Ross, the book is really useful to begin doing thing to help with depression. Good luck I hope the best

      • 42 TR thompson
        November 15, 2009 at 15:23

        I have suffered with anxiety/depression (stress) since 1997, it was caused by work overload and I tried to fight the company responsible. however, suprise,suprise I lost! I have seen four so called consultant pschiatrists and one so called medical expert. None had the answer to my particular case, because none wanted to go against their own! I manage best I can and what really helps is my study of the occult, which I have been highly involved with for 37yrs. I have encountered from twenty feet away two alien craft and at eighty feet away a third. I have encountered numerous supernatural phenomena and I drowned in 1996, passing over twice. I broke my left knee in 2001, I severley shattered my left ankle in 1989. I recieved a severe bang on the head in 1989 spending the night in hospital, the attackers had hit the wrong guy. I have osteo-arthritus and have botox injections in my neck to correct posture. I have been told I have glaucoma! Yet I survive because I have little time/faith in GPS! My faith comes from past occult experiences. Why hide your mental proplems? I have had three very close encounters with alien-species and I have talked on two radio shows and TV, as well as running my own group. I do not care about peoples opinion, they either accept me as I am or take a run and jump, preferabley off a high cliff, comprende??

  32. 43 Sarah
    November 13, 2009 at 19:26

    I was so clinically depressed at the age of 15 i actually lost my ability to speak to people altogether. I did tell people that there was something wrong and their reaction was to be extremely angry. I have never tried to tell anyone other than my psychologist what i go through since then. It just made everything 100 times worse.

  33. 44 Laura (from Portland, OR)
    November 13, 2009 at 19:30

    As long as there is this ubiquitous notion that mental illness is a character flaw rather than a physiological problem that may sometimes manifest itself behaviorally (a symptom of their illness), then there seems to be a roadblock for those with mental illness to want to come forward in their personal relationships and in their workplaces–most unfortunate, but true.

    • 45 miriamhyde54
      November 13, 2009 at 20:03

      Thanks Laura,

      And reducing the stigma through education is exactly why I tell.

      Cancer used to be the C-word. Now people talk about it all the time.

      There are thousands of us who will force society to take psychiatric disorders for what it is. A disorder. Not a character flaw. Not demons. Not any of that crap!
      Mental illnesses are disorders that occur in the brain. It’s provable and substantiated.

      Time to wake the world up about it.

  34. 46 Sarah
    November 13, 2009 at 19:31

    I’d like to add to my previous message that i now have 3 degrees in clinical psychology incliding a phd, and still i would not tell my research collegues about my personal experiences. Telling them would just give me more to worry about in the end i think.

  35. 47 Phyllis , (WGCU) Florida
    November 13, 2009 at 19:32

    Fort Hood Shooter;

    Timely topic.
    Preliminary accounts point to the possibility that the doctor who just killed 13 people in Fort Hood suffered from bouts of depression.

    Here in the US, psychotropic medications are so commonly prescribed that it is hard to understand that there is still discrimination.

    Even the young children are put on these drugs.

  36. 48 Tom
    November 13, 2009 at 19:32


    If you break your leg, you DO need support from your coworkers. They might need to help hold doors open for you, carry your tray through the cafeteria line, etc. If you need to take 10 minutes to leave your desk and stretch or do some other physical therapy, then you should be able to. You may be able to disguise your condition, but why would you?

    Analogous support applies for those with mental illness. They might need help with a particularly stressful assignment. They might need to take-10 in the middle of an argument, etc. The only difference is that their problems are easier to conceal, and, so, they are expected to do so out of some perverse sense of decorum. Doing this makes as much sense as removing your cast and attempting to walk around on your broken leg just so your coworkers aren’t offended by the plaster.

  37. November 13, 2009 at 19:33

    I work with mental health illnesses, I believe that people do not want to say about how they feel for fear of others thinking they are crazy and fear of going on medications and also they withdawal them self from society since they feel inadecuate, or like Robert he was afraid of her child being taken away and other fears. If people understood that there are safe ways of treating the biochemical problems of the mind and that they can get support they would be more open to reach for help. (I am a Naturopathic Doctor and have succes treating patients with depression, anxiety, insomnia, etc. with nutrients, diet, herbs, etc.)

  38. 50 Aaron from Portland
    November 13, 2009 at 19:38

    One of my second cousins killed himself totally out of the blue several years ago. His parents were (and are) absolutely devastated. Later, they found out that he was bipolar (as is his father). It turns out that the Navy, which my second cousin was in for a few years, had known for many years before that. Disclosure rules kept the Navy from warning his parents. If only they knew, he would probably still be live and well.

    I don’t know enough about mental health rules/laws to call for any change, but I wish there some way, somehow, the Navy had made that one phone call.

    Personally, I don’t have any mental health problems. However, I have ADHD, inattentive subtype. I sometimes tell people, but I dare not say anything to potential employers or on parts of the Internet where I’m not 100% anonymous.

    • November 17, 2009 at 16:17


      If the Navy knew and his parents didn’t, it is quite possible he was on antidepressants. There are a few hundred class action lawsuits against the drug companies fir just this specific reaction. If you catch a commercial for any of these drugs they all warn for signs of thoughts of suicide. The patient is supposed to then tell the doctor if this happens. Ehhm. can’t tell his/ her own family, but a doctor.

  39. 52 Dr. Mobolaji Stephens
    November 13, 2009 at 19:39

    It is important to seek expert’s help but also good to let one’s employer know of the illness particularly if one’s job has to do with public safety. Howeve, at the work front it purely a private issue. Friends and relatives must be alerted but fear makes most to withdraw and many don’t even know how to handle it or assist the sufferer. A friend of mine used to be chained by his family but whenever I returned then I do sit and speak with the guy. To me seeking professional help is a must.

  40. 53 Tom D Ford
    November 13, 2009 at 19:40

    I suspect that a lot of the stigma comes because of people who end up in the news having done some extreme thing and then the news say “they had Depression”.

    But I suspect that most people with depression never even contemplate hurting other people, they would rather hurt themselves to make sure they don’t hurt others.

  41. 54 jenn lawson
    November 13, 2009 at 19:42

    i was diagnosed with bi-polar ten years ago after several years of damaging manic behavior an an attempted suicide. i am very open about my illness with my friends and even acquaintances as part of my therapy. i do not share my illness with my direct supervisors, however.

    there is so much stigma surrounding mental illness – i am a good example of someone who can successfully function – be successful – with a mental illness. many folks i share this information, which for many would be very personal, are astonished.

  42. November 13, 2009 at 19:46

    In cricket, New Zealand batsman Lou Vincent and Australian bowler Shaun Tait dropped out due to depression before much achieving significant success.

  43. 56 S
    November 13, 2009 at 19:49

    I’m 20 and I have been battling with clinical depression for over five years. Personally I am not comfortable sharing my condition with people because I am already paranoid that they’ll be treating me differently. I am not different; I don’t want or need their sympathy, but they insist on extending it anyway, from the little experience I’ve had, divulging my condition in people.

    At this point, the clinical depression’s become a part of life; it’s something I’ve accepted and I no longer see it as a problem or an ailment. I don’t go for therapy anymore, neither do I take pills. I do have episodic outbursts from time to time but they are normally manageable.

    I personally believe that it should be at the discretion of the sufferer whether he/she would like to open up or not. Employers shouldn’t prod; and it most definitely shouldn’t interfere with their judgment of those suffering from the condition. Most people see those who are depressed from a strangely myopic view – we are not weak. We are not mentally challenged. We just, from time to time, lose control of our lives, our emotions and feel the world crush down on us. We’re normal, most of us are able bodied like everyone else. Our mental conditions shouldn’t matter, unless, and only unless it puts others around us (or ourselves) in direct physical harm.

  44. 57 steve
    November 13, 2009 at 19:55

    Yeah, there is a gender issue in this stigma. Men are ostracized if they reveal they have depression, whereas women are given a lot more sympathy. Men are told to act like men, and are shamed.

  45. 58 Bob/Washington State USA
    November 13, 2009 at 20:01

    We have a lot of unstable veterans in our area due to our proximity to Fort Lewis. Some of them are in treatment for their illness. We keep an eye on these guys both for their sake and ours.

    Please, will someone address the very real potential of mentally ill people attacking others such as their co-workers, employers, etc.
    This is a very real problem in the US. Mental health professionals cannot drop the ball or pass the buck on this problem. What just happened at Fort Hood and what has previously happened at Columbine and Virginia Tech serve to amplify this point. Yes, get these people the help they need but ALSO protect others from the possible consequences of their illness.

    near Seattle Washington

  46. 59 ChrisMc
    November 13, 2009 at 20:01

    I dealt with a serious illness last year. I couldn’t quite conceal it (treatments left me bald) but I didn’t share the details at work. I tried extra hard at my job because I did not want to be viewed as weak or unable to perform my job. As a result, I feel better and stronger about myself and my co-workers have a lot of respect for me. I would do the same thing if I had to deal with a mental problem.

  47. 60 miriamhyde54
    November 13, 2009 at 20:16

    I will never stop talking about, educating and advocating for people with any disability, but in my case, especially mental illness.

    The only way to make an illness known and accepted is to put it out in the light of the day.

    Why should we hide it any longer? People with disabilities are discriminated, just like those who are gay. They more we “come out”, the more accepted we will be.

    Yes, in some ways we are different. Despite society’s attitudes towards us, at least most of us get help.

    We are not the “town fools”. We are people. We have lives. We have hopes. We have dreams. We accomplish. We produce. We even reproduce.

    The vast majority of us live our lives without ever committing a crime. It’s much more likely that a crime will be committed on us. As far as those few poor souls who have murdered…yes, they have to have consequences. I strongly believe that, no matter what, people must be accountable for their actions. But they also need understanding, and more importantly, help.

    When will the global society mature enough “treat each other as you would treat yourself”?

  48. 61 Vicki
    November 13, 2009 at 21:35

    ChrisMc and Denise in Chicago:

    You neglect one thing in your tales of silence and strength: mental illness is not like other physical illnesses, in that your illnesses required that you maintain physical strength at work so as to be able to do your jobs. All well and good, but I’m willing to bet that you didn’t also have to deal with a complete loss of concentration, skewed thought patterns all leading you to believe that you are worthless, your mind telling you constantly just how awful you are, the various physical ailments that come with mental illness, attempting to interact (AT ALL, not just normally) with your coworkers, and the feeling that you’re dragging yourself through wet cement, just to get through the day.

    As dreadful as some physical illnesses are, if your coworkers had discovered them, you’d have received sympathy (and perhaps tea). You wouldn’t have been viewed as someone not “safe” to be around, had people looking at you sideways as they wonder when you’re going to lose it entirely, and making some seriously remarkable surmises about you. I’m very pleased that you both were able to recover with your dignities intact. Unfortunately, that’s simply not possible for some of us. Try being strong and aloof when you can’t even say “Good morning” properly. It’s a whole different ball game, my friends.

  49. 62 Pete
    November 13, 2009 at 21:46

    If it did not happened to them or known somebody who has , many would not understand . They will think you are shrieking from your responsibilities or changed. Wives have left husbands and judges would not see the problems as illness . Some think you are faking it. Those who end their lives are written off as good for nothing.

  50. 63 Geri Piemonte, M.Ed. Psychology
    November 13, 2009 at 23:30

    It depends on the mental illness. Mental illnes is a complex and complicated issue. Some is due to genetics, hormones, environment, or learned behavior. I am a retired mental health counselor with a Masters Degree and 2 years further study in Marriage and Family Therapy besides my initial fied of study, Counseling Psychology. It is not even easy for me at times in my personal life to decide these questions. I got the degree in order to learn to live with my emotionally-repressed husband who never revealed to me that he had been physically abused by his mother as a young child. Who was taking expressing the pain in her own life by taking it out on him. She had lost 2 children in the early 1930’s due to disease. Death of a child is very difficult to cope with when you are in a hopeless situaion not within your control. To tell or not to tell? There is no simple “yes or no” answer. It has to be answered according to the circumstances and the situation by the individual dealing with the problem. It may require professional help depending on the complexity of the issues. Therapists are not ‘passing the buck”. It is the reality of the situation. It is an art form, not a science. Not yet, if ever.

  51. 64 claudine
    November 14, 2009 at 01:27

    Should you be open about your mental illness?

    Many people are not even aware of their mental illness. So how could they be open about it?

    Only after being diagnosed people know.

  52. November 14, 2009 at 04:48

    Yes, mental illness should be openly informed towards others with whom we deal with, if only in order to give information on others on how to help the one with mental illness, and also for others to be able to give understanding and help to the mentally ill. Not telling others will leave you without a referent point of view with which to deal with mentally ill persons.

  53. 66 Tan Boon Tee
    November 14, 2009 at 05:00

    Depending on how one defines “mental illness”, one would suspect that practically all humans are suffering from certain kind of mental disorder or instability — more a matter of degree than kind. Unless it is severe, most people could go on with their daily routine without getting involved in any unbecoming hassle.

    For the good of the person (despite the social stigma), I suppose it is advisable and desirable that he or she would reveal the acute or worsening condition before any disaster strikes.

  54. 67 t
    November 14, 2009 at 09:23

    My sister committed suicide last July. She’d spent the last 10 years fighting an implacable illness. Each medicine stopped working — it was as though she had cancer and the chemotherapy failed. She was tired.

    She was my confidante, and I hers. She was terrified that if the principal at the school where she taught found out that she was mentally ill, she would be fired. She was petrified by the prospect of telling a boyfriend that she was sick, as she feared that he would leave her. She was ashamed.

    I wish I could have told her that our society accepted her illness as it accepts those struck by cancer. But it doesn’t, and she knew it didn’t, and she was fiercely private about her struggle.

    I hope that we will be more accepting of those with severe mental illness. When my sister died, our community was stunned. She was beautiful, cheerful, poised, accomplished, and possessed a striking beauty of body, mind, and heart. She was too private to have shared her disease with anyone but our family.

    The outcome of her illness could not have changed. She was too sick. I only wish that our society were more understanding, and accepting of mental illness. I only wish that shame had not been part of the dread she increasingly experienced.

    Let us hope we build communities that are more tolerant of those who suffer, of those who are sick.

    Respectfully, T

  55. November 14, 2009 at 13:07

    Mental health is a private matter for as long as any individual decides it should or should not be by word or deed.

  56. 69 scmehta
    November 15, 2009 at 07:25

    The whole world tends to be mentally upset, more or less and sometime or the other, and nobody is psychically perfect; and, as the time moves on, along with our selfish, intolerant, extremist, violent and chaotic journey, the ailment is becoming correspondingly and increasingly pronounced. But, it’s only the conscientious and sensitive people, like Robert Enke, who get affected easily and intensely. Today’s world is more suited for the “hard nuts”.

  57. 70 Ronald Almeida
    November 15, 2009 at 16:23

    I don’t see why one cant be open about one’s mental illness when every one knows that 99.9 % of humans are crazy?

  58. 71 Dennis Junior
    November 15, 2009 at 21:11

    To Vicki’s comments ::: November 13, 2009 at 18:39

    I am currently sick and, I forgot to mentioned that the General Public needs to be educated about mental health problems and, its affect on the public…but, the government and the medical societies need to be able to put the necessary resources to encourage more involvement in the treatment of Mental Health Care in the Public…

    =Dennis Junior=

  59. November 16, 2009 at 09:39

    just open up your stress with your closest ones so that it may relieve the stress for some time atleast as tresthcothick has marvellously done ..oh to think if enke would have followed treskhes ways he would have been alive for sure ?and dont wait for the ill to open up its for the near and dear to identify the problems and solve it without his knowing by supportive if he doesnt want to discuss?poor enkes surroundings doesnt instill confidence in him to disclose even to the psychatrist ..this grave problem must be seriously dealt with or else future doesnt look rosy as its a mad fast world which has time for anything thats why austrian,belgian,british,indian father can rape his own daughter for several years and remain unidentified from his peers.

  60. 73 Ronald Almeida
    November 17, 2009 at 08:50

    May be instead of just concentrating on the patients and symptoms, the medical proffession should also try to find the causes in society, which I believe is the root of the problem. Especially in urban societies that live extremely unnatural lives in unnatural environments. Of course humans like other creatures adapt to anything, but there are bound to be longtime repercussions. For example the subject under discussion is basically a social problem, one of isolation or not from one’s surroundings..

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