More from BeyondBlue

BeyondBlue is the National Depression Initiative.

I used one of their signs that they use to advertise in a previous post.  This was the sign:

Don't be afraid to ask for help, you'll get it...apparently

It calls on those experiencing mental illness to speak up.  It states “Postnatal depression and anxiety.  It’s OK to ask for help.”  And you know what, it IS OK to ask for help and no, not everyone knows that.  But I compared this sign to a campaign from SANE Australia because it advocated for others to recognize the signs of mental illness.

Well BeyondBlue has other signs too.  Here are 3 they have regarding depression.  They are all men, perhaps to contrast the postnatal depression ad that features a woman…I don’t know…how much thought do you think went into these decisions?  These men are, in a way, describing their depression.  The woman is an ad focused on anxiety.

While somewhat awareness raising they are more like sob stories.  Look at how horrible these people look.  The one smile is from the woman who “Spoke Up” about her postnatal depression and anxiety.  I’m not saying the models should be smiling about depression and anxiety, the ones in the SANE signs campaign aren’t.  I am just curious about the different message being sent.  I honestly can’t name the different message yet but I’ve been thinking about it.



This is SANE Australia:

What we do
SANE Australia is a national charity working for a better life for people affected by mental illness – through campaigning, education and research.

SANE conducts innovative programs and campaigns to improve the lives of people living with mental illness, their family and friends. It also operates a busy Helpline and website, which have thousands of contacts each year from around Australia.

Headed by Executive Director Barbara Hocking OAM, SANE is a leading independent NGO campaigning for the one in five Australians affected by mental illness every year. SANE relies exclusively on donations and grants to achieve its goals and receives no ongoing government funding so every dollar counts.

They have an interesting campaign called the Signs CampaignIt is supposed “to promote understanding of the early signs of mental illness, and highlights the importance of getting help for those affected.”  I took that quote from their website.

It’s rather creative, here are some of the “signs”

I actually like the play on the word “signs.”  I feel it’s an engaging way to address this issue and I like that it is a focus on others to pay attention, be aware and not telling people who need help that it is their responsibility to get it.  Kind of like this ad from a similar campaign with, what I believe are the same positive intentions: 

Don't be afraid to ask for help, you'll get it...apparently

Now the campaign that this ad is from has some other ads that don’t put the responsibility on the person who may need the help.  Empowering people to ask for help is important but I really appreciate the efforts of SANE Australia’s signs campaigns to encourage awareness of the signs of mental illness.
That said we could talk about the faces and images they use to represent depression, anxiety and so on.  But I’ll leave that for another time.

Check out this slideshow for other “signs”

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Batman is Batsh!t

10 Superheroes Who Undoubtedly Suffer From Mental Illness (By: Michael Lee)

I came across this randomly one day when indulging my “nerd” like sensibilities.  Mental health is a sensitive topic.  This editorial by Michael Lee on Nerdism Editorials is far from sensitive.  I am not overly concerned with the subjects of this editorial.  You see Mr. Lee is discussing how “crazy” different comic book characters are.  He lists what he believes would be an appropriate diagnosis for the likes of Spider-man, Wolverine, and the Hulk and talks about why he has come to such conclusions.  I am not worried about what the Hulk thinks of Mr. Lee’s opinions (though perhaps Mr. Lee should be).  But how do those with the diagnoses he throws out feel about his descriptions?  Below is an excerpt from his description of Peter Parker AKA Spider-man:

“Ahh, I’m depressed because my best friend’s dad wants to kill me. Wahhh!”, “Ahh, I’m depressed because I’m not good enough for my supermodel wife. Wahhh!”, “Ahh, I’m depressed because my boss doesn’t pay me enough to take photographs of myself! Wahhh!” If you really think about it, Peter Parker has the good life, and it’s only his depression that f*cks it up more and more. Nobody wants a crying superhero.

The message being sent here is the idea that if other people believe your life has more value than you do or if your life  looks good to other people then a mental health diagnosis like depression is unwarranted.  The funny thing about depression is that it does not discriminate.  You can be rich, poor, or middle class; you can have a supermodel wife; you can identify as homosexual, heterosexual or be against sexual labels; nerds, jocks, and artists; superheroes and super-villains are all susceptible to depression.  I think that depression or at least anxiety can potentially be exacerbated for forcing all these labels on people but that’s a discussion for another time.  If you are wealthy, “happily” married, or perhaps a simple wall-crawler who is dealing with depression reading this editorial certainly will not validated your experience.

Of course I must point out the description of Batman, one of two MAJOR American comic book icons known for being the darker side of the Batman/Superman coin.  Below is Mr. Lee’s diagnosis of the Dark Knight:

Just some of Batman’s mental illnesses to date include: Post-traumatic stress, depression, egomania, substance dependence, mild Munchhausen-by-proxy, anger management issues, OCD, sublimation of grief and bereavement disorder, coulrophobia, and split personality disorder. Matter of fact, Batman is so connected to his insanity that when you try to make him a gleeful character (1969 Batman) or a gay-esque ladies man (Batman & Robin), nobody respects the character and the re-imagining’s universally panned. Therefore, Batman is with out a doubt the most connected to his insane roots, and is literally bat sh*t crazy.

A few technical errors, there is no “split personality disorder” it is properly and clinically known as Dissociative Identity Disorder or DID.  (Please see my post called I’m Really Into DID.Also I am not sure how “mild” Munchausen by proxy syndrome manifests itself.  While we all may appreciate the pun (Batman is Batsh*t crazy) and I certainly took advantage of it for my post how demeaning.  Batman is certainly a dark character with a rough past.  If he were real there would be a number of issues a competent mental health clinician could address with him.  But I think it is worth noting that these issues were probably not laid out when he was created. 

Most mental health ‘disorders’ are common issues manifested to a point that they cause difficulty functioning within the confines of our societal expectations.  This also explains why mental health disorders are not standard across different communities.  Comic book characters, as with many fictional characters, are often exaggerations of human conditions.

How Can We Fix You Today

The most important thing to remember if you experience depression is that this medicine will only MINIMALLY impact your sexual function.

Big Angry Face = Crazy Person Before Valium
Small Calm Face = Crazy Person After Valium
You Do the Math

See that blank faced, alien looking creature with no specific features.  That is someone who is depressed.  Depression, like other mental illnesses, is so foreign and strange it is kind of like you’re not even human or perhaps like you have no identity.

The Craziest Characters on TV

The Craziest Characters on TV at DishTV

No better way to encourage acceptance and understanding then making a “who’s who” list of characters embodying social stigma.  I’ll admit that I enjoy categorizing and making lists: my favorite Greek gods and goddesses, top 10 movie villains, etc.  So why not a list of TV’s craziest?  DishTV did it in a “critical” way by addressing the way TV handles these characters (handles?  maybe deals with?  nope, sounds bad too…………………….Addresses!  Addresses these characters!):

Like many other areas of concern, Hollywood really does a poor job at portraying mental illness. There are some exceptions, of course, but for the most part TV shows turn problems like Asperger’s Syndrome or Multiple Personality Disorder into a sensationalized and often “zany” condition. Yet, having characters being pumped down through your dish TV signal who are mentally ill does serve at least one positive purpose, and that is raising awareness of those conditions.

Did you notice the plug for DishTV in that paragraph?

The first person they mention is my recent favorite, Tara of United States of Tara.  

Tara. Tara Gregson is the title character for a relatively new program on Showtime. This character suffers from multiple personality disorder, and during the course of the program she’ll move from her identity as a mother to “Buck,” a beer-loving redneck man, or to one of her other identities. Multiple personality disorder (also formerly called “Dissociative Identity Disorder”) makes for great TV plots, but it’s also easy to become almost cartoonish.

Cartoonish.  Okay I’ll take it…for now.

The third character they mention is Dr. Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory.

Doctor Sheldon Cooper from Big Bang Theory. Jim Parsons’ portrayal of the brilliant – yet annoyingly quirky – physicist has won several awards. Although no diagnosis has been discussed on the show, it’s readily apparent that Sheldon suffers from Asperger’s Syndrome. The show’s portrayal is occasionally cartoonish, but Sheldon remains a somewhat enjoyable character as well.

This description is very interesting.  First off the show has not actually discussed an official diagnosis…but the mental health specialists at DishTV took care of that.  CLEARLY the character of Dr. Cooper SUFFERS from Asperger’s Syndrome.  Am I saying their diagnosis is wrong? No, I’m not expert enough to call such a thing…not like they are.  Also apparently one who has Asperger’s is suffering.  Now I shouldn’t be harsh on this, I am in fact in social work school and we are taught not to use such language.  The clinicians at DishTV, though qualified to diagnose, may not have gained that same awareness.  If Sheldon is an enjoyable character, and from what I’ve seen of the show he is a successful and confidant individual with a pseudo-girlfriend who bears a striking resemblance to early nineties TV icon, Blossom, then how is he suffering?  By the way…cartoonish again.

Lastly they decided to step into sacred territory!  Hawkeye Pierce from M*A*S*H, a family favorite in my house.

Doctor Hawkeye Pierce from M*A*S*H*. Few who saw the final episodes of this show will forget how Hawkeye struggled with depression, even to the point of psychosis, at the end of the Korean war. While this portrayal is dated in terms of the actual psychological ideas being tossed around, it still remains a powerful look at what depression does to a person.

Again the DishTV researchers have assessed the change through time of “the actual psychological ideas being tossed around.”  And yes, depression can have a very powerful effect on an individual.  So can being in the middle of a war-zone.  So can witnessing a woman smother her child to keep it quiet.  Perhaps there is more to someone’s change in behavior then depression.  No mention of trauma’s role in Hawkeye’s reactions.  DishTV specialists…I’m disappointed, things are not that simple.  By the way…no asterisk after the ‘H’ my friends.

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