Depression and social stigma

 

Sir, – The attention-grabbing headline “Saying you have depression doesn’t mean that you do”(Health + Family, March 13th) on Richie Sadlier’s article does a great disservice to a country still getting used to the idea that mental health is a legitimate concern rather than a matter of pulling one’s socks up. Richie Sadlier may well have friends who are, well, terrible people who lie about being depressed to get time off work, but the vast majority of depressed or otherwise mentally ill people in Ireland are utterly terrified of even mentioning it and would rather claim flu or something more “legitimate” to justify it to themselves and their bosses. He also seems to be unaware that a formal diagnosis of depression (or anything else) is not his domain as a psychotherapist but that of medical doctors – and anyone who has seen a competent doctor in Ireland and reported low mood will be asked quite early on about their use, or abuse, of alcohol and other substances.

It is the Government and not those in pain saying that “It’s good to talk”. Let’s direct the criticism where it is due. – Yours, etc,

CLAIRE HENNESSY,

Rathmines,

Dublin 6.