Stigma stops us from seeking treatment for mental health problems. Fear of letting others know you have mental health problems like depression or anxiety is very real. The stigma surrounding mental health problems is gradually giving way and people in need can seek help before the consequences are too great.
The consequences of anxiety and depression have again had international attention when swimming great Michael Phelps revealed how severe anxiety and depression nearly drove him to suicide after the 2012 London Games.
Phelps revealed his own struggle with depression and to end the stigma surrounding metal health problems like depression..
Speaking at mental health conference in America he said would remain in his room for four days without food or sleep. For him, each Olympic Games lead to a major state of depression causing him to not want to be in the sport anymore or even to not want to be alive. Phelps’s first experience of Olympic Games in Athens in 2004 as a 15-year-old was also his first experience of depression.
Phelps also revealed his mental health issues led to him abuse drugs and alcohol when he was older. He also explained that stigma surrounding mental health problems like depression caused people to hide that they may be experiencing it.
“We’re supposed to be this big, macho, physically strong human beings, but this is not a weakness,” Phelps said. “We are seeking and reaching for help.”
“I think people actually finally understand it is real. People are talking about it and I think this is the only way that it can change.”
Timely advise from someone that we all know and should listen to. Understanding that mental health problems like depression are treatable and something many people experience is a step toward breaking down that stigma.