Pageant Question About Fighting Depression Stigma
Today’s Pageant Question of the Day is: This year’s World Health Day topic is depression. How can we fight stigma surrounding depression?
Why this question was asked: Especially for those with a mental health-related platform, it is important to be able to discuss stigma and how to combat it in order to make mental illness better understood in society.
This is how some of our Instagram followers answered the question:
Amaya (ijmcojrprincess2017): One of my sister queens fights depression. It makes me so sad. ANYONE can be vulnerable. We need to help one another and share that depression affects many, not just a few. Mental illness is real. I made and sent her a present to help her when she was feeling sad. This helped me better understand how real this is and helped her be happy again. Awareness is the first step.
Natalia (natalia.n.taylor): We can fight depression by starting to treat it the same we would a disease like cancer. Illnesses we can’t see are often stigmatized and treated as less important when in reality, the treatment of mental illness would alleviate a whole realm of symptoms we see in individuals daily.
Jackie (jkoraedu): We can fight stigma around depression or any mental illness by first recognizing that the illness does not discriminate based on age, sex, race, or gender. We must be nonjudgmental in what we “think” depression or any mental illness looks like, be aware of the signs and symptoms, show genuine concern, and offer resources to our loved one or person of concern such as the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline (1-800-950-NAMI) in addition to our support.
Lexi (lexiiibland): From personal experience, depression is a serious disorder that so many young women and men suffer from daily. It is the worst feeling to wake up feeling unwanted and useless. I struggled with an eating disorder during my depression. The first way to fight depression is to notice it as what it is: an illness. Depression is a serious illness and in most cases, it is uncontrollable no matter how hard you try. Social media mocks depression and uses it as a joke. Depression needs to be addressed among school systems in order to teach young children and teens why it occurs and the steps to help heal it. Something pageantry has helped me escape is my depression. Find something you love and surround yourself with a great support system and you will find yourself healing.
Scott (scottcessna): In my nearly two decades as a pageant director, producer, and judge, I have seen numerous incidences of that “something just isn’t quite right” situation. Don’t ignore that! Many think that women involved in pageantry are the last people to suffer from low self-esteem. Don’t believe it! There is more self-doubt in a room full of pageant contestants than anyone would ever want to believe. I have had girls stand in front of me during pageant interviews and tell me that their platform is depression because “I suffer from depression but I’m too afraid to tell my parents.” That is simply heartbreaking to hear from girls as young as 13 and 14 years old. Now, many contestants are very accomplished, intelligent, confident, and amazing women of all ages. But as a peer, as a friend, don’t ignore those very subtle signs that the girl sitting next to you could use someone to listen to them, to tell them they are beautiful, to give them a hug and tell them “you’ve got this.” I have a dear friend in the pageant world who always reminds girls that “your destiny may not be to win that crown, but it certainly was your destiny to be here.” Your destiny may have simply been to meet your roommate or get to know the girl standing next to you in opening number. Don’t waste that chance to get to know your fellow contestants. We can’t allow depression to continue to exist in a vacuum. People can’t continue to suffer in silence because people shy away from them, afraid to get involved with someone who has mental “issues.” That beautiful competitor sitting next to you may not be feeling so beautiful inside and the simple act of a kind individual paying some attention may change the course of her life.
Abri (abri.elise): Depression is non-discriminatory and should be treated as such; there should be no shame in being depressed as it is something that any one of us might someday be affected by. We can fight the stigma of depression by emphasizing that depression, in relation to other illnesses, is completely normal and is not something to be ashamed of in society today.
Shikye-Alyce (missgalaxy2017): Start a conversation! The more we talk about it the more we dampen the stigma. People are afraid to speak up in fear of being labeled “crazy.” What they don’t realize is there are more people than they think who are also suffering in silence. Asking for help doesn’t make you weak. It’s okay not to be okay.
Our favorite answer:
Alex (alexuihlein): Mental health is actually my platform! At age 12, I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression, so I know first-hand that mental illnesses are no laughing matter. 25 percent of adults and 20 percent of adolescents live with a diagnosable mental health disorder yet less than half of them actually receive treatment due to the stigma associated with mental illness and the lack of access to treatment. The first step in eliminating this stigma is the start the conversation. With my platform, I work with multiple mental health organizations to educate others on the facts of mental illness and help encourage others to seek necessary treatment. As President Bill Clinton once said, “Mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of, but stigma and bias shame us all.” Let’s eliminate that shame by educating ourselves about mental health and being compassionate towards those who live with mental illness.
The judges would like this answer best because her answer is personal and she shows she knows and cares a lot about the subject. (Read: Pageant Question About Feeling Confident)
How would you answer this question?