A new Twitter hashtag is helping to breakdown the many misconceptions surrounding depression, by asking sufferers to share their own experiences using #WhatYouDontSee.
Taking aim at misinformed expressions such as ‘you don’t look depressed’, the initiative has been set up by mental health charity Blurt, to coincide with Depression Awareness Week.
On a mission to increase wider awareness and understanding of depression, the charity hopes the hashtag campaign will shed light on what it’s really like to deal with depression on a daily basis - beyond the stigma, stereotypes and pre-conceived ideas.
Explaining the motivations behind #WhatYouDontSee, a Blurt blog post reads: “All too often, shame and fear force us to ‘mask’ our illness; and although public attitudes are improving, unhelpful associations about depression still abound.
“‘But you don’t look depressed…’, ‘He can’t be depressed, I saw him laughing with his mates last night’, ‘She’s young and pretty, how can she be depressed?’
“At Blurt, we’re so over hearing comments like this. Depression can hit anyone, at any time, regardless of age, gender, and personal circumstance. It’s an invisible illness: you can’t tell from the outside who is suffering.
“This Depression Awareness Week, we’re harnessing the power of social media to reveal what living with depression is really like. We’re determined to challenge the stigma around what depression ‘should’ look like, and show the world that anyone can be affected by poor mental health.”
The hashtag, which began circulating on Monday, has so far yielded hundreds of brilliant insights from people all over the country who battle with depression every day.
In response to the ‘you don’t look depressed’ quip, one woman poignantly notes: “People don't ‘look’ depressed because depression isn't a facial expression.”
Another writes: “#WhatYouDontSee The absolute exhaustion after getting home from a normal day at work faking it for the outside world.”
By encouraging more open conversation around depression and the different ways in which it can manifest, Blurt is hoping to break down the stigma attached to mental health problems.
With as many as one in six people likely to be affected by mental illness during their lifetime, that charity is keen to flag that it’s an issue all of us should better understand.