We must stop depression being taboo topic

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The death of comic and movie star Robin Williams was undoubtedly a tragedy, but it may well have some unintended positive consequences.

In the week since the Oscar winning star was found dead at his California home, seemingly having taken his own life, thousands of tributes have been paid to his unrivalled energy and comic genius .

But what has also happened since is that a discussion has begun, one where many have started talking about depression and mental disorder. Sadly, most of us are now well acquainted with the many issues which Williams was dealing with including a recent diagnosis with Parkinson’s Disease. It has since been said that he had been suffering from severe depression.

Inevitably people have asked the question how a man with all his talent, fame and family could possibly be so depressed that he would want to take his own life? Clearly these people have been fortunate enough not to have suffered depression or mental illness but the death of Robin Williams has still got them talking about an issue which, criminally, is regarded as a taboo.

Of the many statistics that have been bandied about this week is that one in four of us will be affected by mental disorder – it is a figure which cannot possibly be proven as so many of us will not admit such perceived fragilities.

Over the past few years I have found it is easier to talk about my problems and have found that honesty is the best way of dealing with the ups and downs of life. Talking is something which has got me through the tough times and I am lucky enough to have understanding family and friends at my side.

But pouring your heart out to loved ones does not beat such issues alone and it is vital that all sufferers get access to professional support. Another grim statistic of the week is the one that suggests 70 per cent of sufferers receive no treatment whatsoever, prompting one eminent psychiatrist to predict there would be an outcry if this figure applied to cancer sufferers.

Even those who do receive professional help are subjected to lengthy waiting lists – I have previously written about the inordinate amount of time I was forced to wait before I received help.

I am one of the lucky ones – the problems I have had in the past have been mild – but such issues are potentially life threatening as the the case of Robin highlighted.

• Samaritans: 08457 90 90 90