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Lindsay

Mental Health Stigma & Discrimination

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I have seen life now from the other side. For years, I used to tell people that were depressed to snap out of it and get over it. And I used to shred people that took medication, I referred to them as losers if they needed drugs to feel better about themselves. Now I realize that they needed help...I hated starting to take medication for my condition but I know how narrow-minded I've been now that I am now one of them.

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well i feel i have been discriminated against...

i was denied private health/medical insurance because of my depression. now, bc of that i am no longer able to ever have private insurance at all..for the rest of my life. it it extremly diffilcult to get approved once you have been denied. i cant even get dental or vision bc of being denied medical insurance. so unless i have a FT job, i am sol...

freaking sucks..

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I was lucky in that i worked for an employer who (at least my direct supervisors) understood and supportive when I had a panic attack at work, or had to take two months off on FMLA for a major episode. There are some co-workers who just think I'm nuts....but I don't mind them, I just don't associate with them.

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I agree Sarah, but I also have to blame society a little bit.

Many people here I am sure have tried talking to others about how they feel, many of us have reached out to friends, family and others around us and many of us have also been ridiculed by these very people that we reached out to, or been told to shape up, get over it, snap out of it and so on. So, if our own friends and family (not ALL, for sure!) do this, this is the same message we get in society.

When I first went to the doc regarding my panic, I was told I had developed this due to the way I looked (my weight).

They totally disregarded all the signs of panic in my childhood and instead saw only what was on the outside.

Ive met, as well as many others here, plenty of docs and social workers and others whom have totally annihilated us and our illnessess.

So its no wonder everyones afraid to talk about it.

I hate the dang stigma!!!!

Sincerely

Evin

I disagree with some of what you said. To blame is to negate ones own responsibility. Being depressed is a choice as is any emotional state of being. Society is not responsible for our emotions, we are. If you blame something hard enough and long enough you are basically saying that that thing is cause and you are effect. Accepting full responsibility for your emotions to me is one of the fastest ways out of being emotionally stuck in a particular behavioral state.

Just feel an awful sinking feeling in my heart reading this :(. I am responsible for my depression and I do everything I can to get better as I really don't like feeling this horrible black 'thing' eating through my soul, mind and heart and ruining my life.

I really feel that mental illness is a disease/illness no different from cancer, diabeties or asthma, of course in some cases a person can help themselves but it's not an illness that people wish for. People with depression do try to help themselves, but the nature of the beast is at times that it's robs you of your motivation and confuses you so much that a person is unable to get help usually at the time when they need it the most.

I don't want to sound like I'm coming across as argumentive, but I just wish people wouldn't be so hard on people with mental illness and everyone's experience is different.

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Accepting full responsibility for your emotions to me is one of the fastest ways out of being emotionally stuck in a particular behavioral state.

Dear TruthbeTold,

Care to share any details on how accepting full responsibility for depression quickly got you unstuck from that particular behavioral state?

I completely agree that finding others to blame is a dead end. But I find the line, 'we choose to feel as we do,' can also be a way to avoid truth. I come from a family of people who were very good at denying any 'bad' feelings like anger, and this idea was a way of intellectualizing bad feelings away.

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I've had problems at University with my Depression also..

When everything was getting too much for me, I went to see a female lecturer to let her know about what I had been/am going through, and to my face she was concerned and understanding, but I've found I'm not being asked to groups that I used to be, and I'm seen more as a liability now, which is so unfair!! I worry enough about my Degree/life post university as it is.. and to be shunned as unrelieable and unstable really hurts,

I believe the lecturers may have mentioned something to students (some students are very friendly to some lecturers, you know, the suck-up students) as now when I go in the common room, everyone stares at me and mutters at me, and one girl even came up to me and said

'do you want a hug? everyone's saying you're really sad'

I hate this, will I ever be able to have a normal happy career now?!!

:"(

Vicky

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I had to change jobs in the fall because of my depression and anxiety (and fatigue from anxiety meds). I found a new job that I really like working many less hours. I struggled terribly at my last 2 jobs when they found out I had depression and it was definitely a huge problem for me. The stigma is terrible and I didnt work for compassionate people.

I am hiding my problems as well as I can at my new job and am hoping that with much more time off work I will improve. Of course I am having problems related to less income. Stressful. But I am very careful who I tell about my depression in my personal life as well.

I recently had to wean off a medicine I had been on for years and I was physically ill for 12 days. I did miss some days of work but told them I had a fever and a virus and they were super nice about it. Thank goodness.

It is a shame that I dont feel like I can tell anyone about my medical condition but I dont want to sour things at my new job. I will keep my mouth shut.

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I'm never gonna admit to anyone, except my closest friends and family, that I am mentally ill. People just view it as something evil, they see us as freaks, it's horrible really.

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I disagree with some of what you said. To blame is to negate ones own responsibility. Being depressed is a choice as is any emotional state of being. Society is not responsible for our emotions, we are. If you blame something hard enough and long enough you are basically saying that that thing is cause and you are effect. Accepting full responsibility for your emotions to me is one of the fastest ways out of being emotionally stuck in a particular behavioral state.

woah woah woah... 'being depressed is a choice'?! I'm sorry, but what?!?

How dare you belittle people's illnesses with your ignorance, or just rudeness?!

You really believe that people choose to feel this way? I find it outstanding that you consider depression the same as any other emotional 'state of being'. Have you any idea what it is? it's an illness, not a down day or anything similar, it's an ILLNESS that people all over the world struggle with every day.

There is no one who would willingly choose to feel like they have lost all joy and happiness in their life, and wonder if they will ever have it back.

You have upset other members with these comments, members who have come here because they are scared about Depression, and have come here for support, and help, and to talk to people that understand them. Not to be told that this is all their fault, and they choose to be this way.

Have you got ANY idea how awful it feels to be in the grips of depression?! And if you do, why would you suggest that people bring it on themselves?!?

Comments like that really really grind my gears.

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Guest SarahN
I disagree with some of what you said. To blame is to negate ones own responsibility. Being depressed is a choice as is any emotional state of being. Society is not responsible for our emotions, we are. If you blame something hard enough and long enough you are basically saying that that thing is cause and you are effect. Accepting full responsibility for your emotions to me is one of the fastest ways out of being emotionally stuck in a particular behavioral state.

Hi TruthBeTold,

I am sorry but like Vicky I have to disagree with you, I am not sure what you are trying to say, but I can see how other members can get upset when you say depression is a choice...............cause it sure does not feel like a choice to me, it is not something I asked for or could prevent for that matter. It is a choice that I found help and learn to deal with it, but I don't feel I choose to be depressed.

Please try to be supportive here, that is what the forums is all about :bump:

SN :hearts:

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Hey, let's not let this great thread get stuck by one poorly-worded feedback. (TruthBeTold, now you know it was pretty thoughtless of you to go to a thread on 'stigma of mental illness' & say, 'nyaa, nyaa, you're depressed because you CHOOSE to be!!'... I have a feeling you've had some deep thoughts on this subject, but you need to rephrase. Unfortunately you came across as a 'stigmatizer'!)

LET'S GET BACK TO EXPERIENCING STIGMA OF MENTAL ILLNESS.

Just wanted to offer a few of my observations from my own & from a family member's experience.

1. Sharing with a friend may not work at all.

We may think we know our friends really well. However. It takes a tremendous amount of life experience, intelligence, open-mindedness, and well-groundedness to support a friend who has mental illness if you yourself have no experience with it. I have been surprised to find people I thought of as friends to evaporate when this issue comes up. You would think that if you're attracted to each other as friends, you have a mutual understanding of just everything. What I've discovered is that.. sometimes, the reason your friend is attracted to you despite your moods etc., is that this is an unresolved issue in their own lives & they're kind of 'working on it' through you without even realizing it. For example, they have a mother or sister who is depressed, & they've suffered because of that, but their relative is untreated & the subject is never mentioned. Or maybe there is a suicide in their family or close friends. This friend will probably withdraw support immediately if you give a name to your problem.

Suggestions: You are much more likely to find a supportive friend among people you meet when you are being treated for this or another mood disorder.

If a friend asks what's wrong, just tell them you're having a medical issue, you're taking care of it with a doctor, and you just don't feel like sharing more than that-- & that they don't need to worry. You may be able to retain a non-intense friendship with this person if they don't feel pressured to get into the details. There are many different kinds of friends, and it can be wonderful to have a few who you just go to movies with or something, without having 'deep' conversations.

TELL A WHITE LIEA close friend may be satisfied with 'panic attacks'-- an inherited neurological disorder. Everyone watches the Sopranos, don't they?

2. RE: schools & jobs: LIE, LIE, LIE!! Your own psychiatrist will probably be happy to write a non-specific note recommending your medical leave or whatever. Preferably you have a psychiatrist who is also a diplimate of neurology or some such. Nobody wants full details. As far as professors are concerned it's a 'neurological disorder related to reactive arthritis'. (I have a relative who actually has such a thing, even tho the disorder she's actually being treated for is bipolar)

3. Try to keep this at the top of your thoughts: IT'S NOBODY'S BUSINESS BUT YOUR OWN! AND IT'S NOT YOUR FAULT! If YOU feel guilty about being sick, this will transmit itself immediately. Change the way you think about this illness, please. Your demeanor vis-a-vis a professor or employer should be: dignified, private, and not asking for special favors, just stating a potential scheduling problem due to illness.

4. If you're not already in therapy, let me say that when you've found a good one, he/she will be your best and most rewarding support-- the one you don't have to be afraid with, who you can tell everything to, and who will help you instead of hurting you. Remember, it's your illness you need help and support with. Only a trained professional can be expected to help.

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Hi, I liked what you had to say too. It says alot about what I am feeling right now. Between a rock that is my illness and a hard place that is how people see and treat me even when I am feeling alright. I feel like I am at a crossroads now-either I will learn how to deal and rise above it or it will suck me under into a pitiful life. It's really hard right now. Any suggestions?

Depression is the one of the few last acceptable grounds of socially acceptable discrimination, unfortunately.

It's bad enough that our mood brutalizes us; then we have to endure the ignorance and lack of understanding of those lacking the capacity to empathize with or understand our plight.

Very well said JD...I may have to borrow your words sometime...with proper credit of course! What has been hard for me to cope with is when the discrimination comes from friends that I believed to be true. I believe that people are basically good...it's just unfortunate that something real to all of us seems to scare some so badly.

Mary

Thank you, Mary.

Of course you can borrow it - especially if it helps you convey your thoughts on the matter.

I borrow other peoples' ideas all the time.

And I agree with you that people are basically good, too, but that ignorance (not stupidity) interferes with the capacity to understand.

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I have dysthymia (chronic depression), and my main symptom is being exhausted all the time. Because I can't really work a regular job, my job is stay-home mom. So my stigma problem is the school yard. My kid plays with her friends after school and I'm hanging out with all the suburban moms.

My problem is that I'm a very honest person, and it makes me feel bad to keep secrets. There's also the problem that, like Laura, I would like to facilitate open discussion in society. (Not ready for her level of leadership tho, kudos Laura.)

If I had say, chronic heart failure, then that would be a hot topic of conversation. It would also give me an excuse why I don't work in the classroom (the energy of elementary age kids makes me nuts) or run any fundraisers. (My therapist warns me against comparing myself to the supermoms. He says that many of those supermoms are seeing him to help them become more like me.)

But unlike a "real" illness, if I were to admit that I am depressed, then that is admitting I am insane. And then what mom is going want her kid to be in my care or vicinity?

And it's just sad, sad, sad that depression is still characterized as insanity in this day and age, but it is. It is, in fact, why I resisted getting help for so many years. I didn't want to be insane. I'm the sane one in the family!

I suppose it would be like being a gay parent at a suburban school. What level of personal bravery does it take to admit and then defend a truth that some people don't like? Maybe it would be easier than I think; maybe the time is ripe for people to understand the truth about depression. But for now I'm keeping it under my hat.

I've thought about telling people, "I have dysthymia. It's a neurological disorder where my brain doesn't make enough of a certain chemical. It basically causes chronic fatigue type symptoms." It wouldn't be lying would it?

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Hcat, I can certainly understand your feelings on this subject. Despite the fact that some of my worst symptoms occasionally occur at work, I will not take any 'as needed' meds there because I would have to tell my boss. Even with all the rights we supposedly have, I still have reason to believe that I would be treated differently. There are quite a few people in my life I have not told about my depression, but my close friends know, and perhaps the more people who "know somebody" with depression or other mental illnesses, the fewer who will react negatively when they find out a new acquaintance is dealing with one. I think that the ice is melting, with some of the 'high profile' people who have admitted publicly to dealing with mental illness. So maybe someday soon people will be able to seek help without feeling like they're insane, and not merely suffer for decades on end!

-WS

I have dysthymia (chronic depression), and my main symptom is being exhausted all the time. Because I can't really work a regular job, my job is stay-home mom. So my stigma problem is the school yard. My kid plays with her friends after school and I'm hanging out with all the suburban moms.

My problem is that I'm a very honest person, and it makes me feel bad to keep secrets. There's also the problem that, like Laura, I would like to facilitate open discussion in society. (Not ready for her level of leadership tho, kudos Laura.)

If I had say, chronic heart failure, then that would be a hot topic of conversation. It would also give me an excuse why I don't work in the classroom (the energy of elementary age kids makes me nuts) or run any fundraisers. (My therapist warns me against comparing myself to the supermoms. He says that many of those supermoms are seeing him to help them become more like me.)

But unlike a "real" illness, if I were to admit that I am depressed, then that is admitting I am insane. And then what mom is going want her kid to be in my care or vicinity?

And it's just sad, sad, sad that depression is still characterized as insanity in this day and age, but it is. It is, in fact, why I resisted getting help for so many years. I didn't want to be insane. I'm the sane one in the family!

I suppose it would be like being a gay parent at a suburban school. What level of personal bravery does it take to admit and then defend a truth that some people don't like? Maybe it would be easier than I think; maybe the time is ripe for people to understand the truth about depression. But for now I'm keeping it under my hat.

I've thought about telling people, "I have dysthymia. It's a neurological disorder where my brain doesn't make enough of a certain chemical. It basically causes chronic fatigue type symptoms." It wouldn't be lying would it?

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Dear All,

I understand that the stigma of mental health illnesses are great (dealing with a partner who suffers from it).

But I also do want to mention that society is just not very understanding of many chronic illnesses.

If you happen to have, for example, a broken leg from a car accident where the recovery period is known, then it's

easier for others (employers, etc) to accept.

I suffer from a physical chronic illness, and I keep it quiet & private. I don't want people to be insensitive, nor think that I'm less capable

of getting a job done.

People often want to live in a "fair weather world".

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FYI: People in the US are covered by the American With Disabilities Act which protects even people with mental illness. Also, most are also covered by the Family Medical Leave Act which provides upto 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year to take care of medical problems of yourself or a family member without being fired. Mental health is covered under this as well.
Know Your Rights

The ADA, or Americans with Disabilities Act, came into effect on July 26, 1992. This important legislation prohibits private employers, state and local governments, employment agencies and labor unions from discriminating against qualified individuals with disabilities in job application procedures, hiring, firing, advancement, compensation, job training, and other terms, conditions and privileges of employment. This act applies to employers with 15 or more employees.

Are You Covered?

Persons covered by this act include anyone who:

* has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities;

* has a record of such an impairment; or

* is regarded as having such an impairment.

Although clinical depression is a mental impairment under the ADA, not everyone with clinical depression will qualify for coverage.

In 1999, the Supreme Court ruled ( Sutton v. United Airlines, Inc., Murphy v. United Parcel Service, Inc. and Albertson's Inc. v. Kirkinburg) that the determination of whether a person has an ADA "disability" must take into consideration whether the person is substantially limited in performing a major life activity when using a "mitigating measure". This means that even though clinical depression is a permanent condition, if you are able through medications and therapy to perform major life activities without difficulty you will not meet the ADA's definition of "disability."

Some feel that these decisions weakened the ADA as it applies to those with depression. Those diagnosed with depression will no longer automatically fall under the ADA's protection. This does not mean, however, that persons with depression are without recourse. Instead, it means that they must prove that they continue to experience limitations despite their medications and therapy. If your job performance is compromised by your illness despite the fact that you are in treatment, you would still be protected under the ADA.

Drug and Alcohol Abuse

Because self-medication with drugs and alcohol are so common among those with depression, it is important to note that the ADA does not cover those with a substance abuse problem. Any employee with a substance abuse problem can be held to the same standards as other employees. If your employer does not know about your depression and then later discovers a substance abuse problem, you will not be protected.

What Are Your Rights?

Under the ADA, employers are required to make what is called a "reasonable accommodation" to those with a known disability if it would not impose an "undue hardship" on the operation of the employer's business. Undue hardship is defined as an action requiring significant difficulty or expense when considered in light of factors such as an employer's size, financial resources and the nature and structure of its operation. An employer is not required to lower quality or production standards to make an accommodation.

Examples of reasonable accommodation for those with depression might include:

* clear delineation of performance expectations,

* schedules which incorporate flex-time,

* part-time positions or job sharing,

* time off for scheduled medical appointments or support groups,

* the use of break time according to individual needs rather than a fixed schedule,

* physical arrangements (such as room partitions or an enclosed office space) to reduce noise or visual distractions,

* extending additional leave to allow a worker to keep his or her job after a hospitalization,

* allowing workers to phone supportive friends, family members, or professionals during the work day,

* joint meetings between the employer, supervisor, and job coach or other employment service provider.

Next 2

Source:- about.com

Updated: June 13, 2006

isn't ironic and unfair that people who are released from prisons can be considered disabled, they qualify for benenfits and some folks who really needed don't.

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So many times when I don't get something done at work i wish I could just say "I have panic disorder and for me to have picked up the phone and called that person would have been like me asking you to jump over a pit of cobras." Of course, you can't. So you just do the best you can day by day.

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i had to take about a month off of work at one job because of my bipolar disorder, and the day i came back, they fired me. so much for my rights. i tried to get a lawyer to help, but all he said was that it was next to impossible to prove why they fired me. despite good work reviews, he said it couldn't be proven.

so much for that idea.

in college, my professors were understanding and helpful to me in dealing with what was then a major depressive episode.

fast forward to now. i was on SSDI for 2 years because of bipolar disorder. now i got married and need insurance for myself and my husband (just qualified for medicaid this month), so i must work. i have a FT job. i just had to take off a couple of weeks, due to a mysterious disorder that remained unmentioned (i blamed it on acid reflux issues).

i haven't told a soul, not even my friends there.

my one friend there has a family member who is bipolar, and my friend totally rips on this family member who is bp. she rips her apart because she's sick and doesn't get treatment, so does things that bipolar people do without treatment. this is a total shame.

i still don't understand how mental illness gives people permission to discriminate and stigmatize...

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Stigma, discrimination... I have always felt that there is that with mental illness. I feel I fell into this at my last job. I had become stressed out and my psychologist suggested time off, and then going back part time, so I did this, but when I did start to go back the main boss started treating me like crap, saying I didnt have all my paperwork or good enough reasons to not do my job fully, my psychologist had even let her know what the reason was, guess what, I got terminated, and she said the reason was because of misconduct(failure to perform my job at capacity). Ridiculous, I had a great record, not many absences, I performed my job, was even responsible for training and cross training new employees within 9 months of being hired, I was there almost 4 years when I was "let go". My immediate supervisor was upset, but since she was retiring, they didnt care what she had to say about me, but she did manage to slip me a letter of reccomendation before she left,lol. Well, I filed for unemployment and they found I was terminated due to medical reasons, not misconduct. This was in 2005, I took that opportunity and went to college and got my Associates degree in business, with a GPA of 3.79, not easy I tell ya. SO after graduating, I have tried to find a job, I went on a few interviews, they tell me it went great and no one calls back, or I never get a response after applying. I eventually went to school to get certified as a Medical Assistant, I had perfect attendance and a GPA of 4.0, graduated beginning of December, I had one job interview, I have applied to a ton of jobs. I feel that maybe its my last employer who may have put a black stain on my record or something, and no one will hire me because she knew of my illness, I cant think of anything else. I have tried really hard to do well in school, its not easy, I had to push myself, and I am feeling all my hard work was in vain, or even a waste of time. Especially when some of the same people you went to school with have no high school education, no work experience, and get hired? Kinda makes you feel like doing good is a punishmnet. SO, I am thinking of going back to school again, to get my bachelors, just havent decided 100% on this. Another thing I'd like to mention is, stigma from family and friends, the ones who are supposed to be there and support you. I have family that also have depression, I was told its an inherited chemical imbalance, and it seems they have issues with others with depression, I dont get it. My family is really hard to be around, it reminds me of what I am and what I try not to become, some are unstable, others are doing well, but I am the one who stays neutral in family squabbles, etc. Some of my family hate this, but I dont care, if I have to play mediator, then so be it. Next, my husband who I've been with for 19 years, has always seemed to have a hard time accepting my depression/BP/PTSD issues, he sometimes calles me names like, "crazy", "paranoid", "nut job", "psycho", etc, when he gets upset with me, or when hes frustrated over my moods. I wish he would try harder to understand, he has went to some of my counseling meetings, and Ive explained to him that those comments are unproductive, and I have been trying to give him more info on my condition, if it was cancer, I dont think people would make fun of us or stigmatize us. I do have isses with abandonement, and rejection due to my childhood (my mom left us alone sometimes a month at a time when I was a teenager(15/16), making me responsible for my younger sister(13/14), her home, bills, you name it, and when things went wrong guess who was blamed...me. But again, there is stigma everywhere and discrimination, my enrollment counselor used to go on and on about how his ex-wife was unstable, had BP, and put her down, I never mentioned my own illness for fear of being turned down for college. SO yes, its everywhere you turn. I know this is alot, just wanted to add my views.

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My current work are really great about it. But I want to move location and I am worried about trying to get another job because you have to disclose reasons for absence on the application forms and I've been off for about a month now. When there are 100 people going for each job, why would they hire a depressive?

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I hope this knowledge becomes more mainstream. I recently had to take medical leave from my job because of hospitalization for anxiety/depression. Thankfully they are being patient and supportive and welcome me back when I am ready. Most employers don't which makes people with MDD less likely to keep trying. So many people don't talk about it and if they do there is of course the stigma as mentioned but I think the more it's shared the more people will realize that they are not alone.

This is great - I had no idea there was supportive material regarding this kind of discrimination.

It goes even further though. What about the times any of us have lost jobs, not been able to get jobs or failed (missed an important deadline, forgot to make a payment, or a combination of all these things and the snowballing effects) as a direct result of mental illness?

I know for a fact that I have lost jobs because I couldn't pay attention or focus on the job. I've bounced checks, forgotten major events and generally made a fool of myself a number of times! If I could only say "oh, its because of the depression" as easily as I could use another excuse.

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.A poll conducted for the Canadian Medical Association found that only 50% of Canadians will tell a friend that a family member has a mental illness while 72% would disclose a cancer diagnosis. In the same poll, almost half of Canadians (46%) said they think the term

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I hope you managed to get your group up and running. I know it was a few years ago but would be good to know how it went. Good on you for giving it a go. There's so much stigma and discrimination against people with depression.

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