About our series: We are out to change mental health care in the United States
Each year, almost one in five Americans experience mental illness, according
to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. More than half won’t
be treated due to stigma, lack of access to services, or lack of knowledge
about help that is available.
As part of our commitment to improving the lives of people with mental
illness, today we are launching a series of articles to debunk the myths
surrounding these life-threatening conditions.
Please read these articles to learn more about our efforts, and how all
of us can contribute to this important work.
- Amy Compton-Phillips, M.D., executive vice president and chief clinical officer
Our series on debunking mental health myths continues with a look at depression.
Learn more from one of our experts about the factors that play a role
and when it’s time to get help.
We wouldn’t expect a person with a broken leg or diabetes to just”
snap out of it,” and in the same way we shouldn’t expect a
person to think their way out of a mental illness.
“This misunderstanding is harmful because it creates unreasonable
expectations and unnecessary suffering for people who have mental illness,”
said Debbie Hutchinson, Psy.D. Manager, Outpatient Behavioral Health Programs
and the Psychiatric Emergency Team.
Many complex factors can contribute to mental illness, including genetics,
hormonal changes during pregnancy, chronic physical illness and even traumatic
Well-meaning family members might see their loved one crying, feeling discouraged,
and lying around the house doing nothing all day. In an attempt to interrupt
this depression, a comment such as “just snap out of it” is
made which results in doing more harm than good. This attempt is often
the result of the family member’s feelings of helplessness in that
situation and speaks to the importance of including family in treatment
“We need to realize that as humans, our mind and body are connected
by more than our neck,” Hutchinson said.
Healing from the pain of depression is more that an intellectual decision.
It is a process.
When to get help
Everyone experiences difficult times in life, and sadness can be a normal
reaction, but it usually lessens with a little time or is manageable.
“When the feelings persist to the point that your quality of life
and daily functioning are affected, you should reach out for help from
a professional,” Hutchinson said. “Depression is a real illness,
and we know that many people who get treatment, get better.”
About 16 million Americans have depression. If you have been experiencing
any of the following symptoms for more than two weeks, you may be suffering
from depression and should contact your primary care provider:
- Changes in sleep or appetite
- Difficulty concentrating
- Loss of interest in hobbies and activities
- Decreased energy
- Low self-esteem
- Feelings of hopelessness
- Physical aches and pains
Our commitment to mental health: Reduce suffering and social isolation
Many programs across the organization help identify people with mental
health needs and connect them to care and services. Locally,
Each Mind Matters program encourages people to promise to talk openly and honestly about
mental health. Doing so leads to early support and help that reduces needless
suffering. Bilingual mental health resources, information and tools can
be found and shared at PromisetoTalk.org.
We want people to be educated about their mental health and have the tools
to live a satisfying life. Mission Hospital’s Mental Health and
Wellness programs provide services with specialty tracks for adults including
the Bipolar track, Anxiety track, Dual Diagnosis track, and the Eating
Disorder program. The Chemical Dependency programs provide treatment for
both adolescents and adults. In these group settings, people come together
to learn, to feel better, and to become mentally healthy.
From substance abuse centers, sexual assault clinics and nutritional counseling
for eating disorders, we care for both emotional and physical needs. With
the launch of the Providence St. Joseph Health Institute for Mental Health
and Wellness, we will work to reduce suffering from depression, anxiety,
and social isolation.
Sources: National Institute for Mental Health; National Alliance for Mental Illness