Campaign for World Health Organization
In October, I had the immense pleasure of photographing for the World Health Organization (WHO)’s campaign on Depression. More than 100 million people suffer from mental health disorders in our region, including China. A simple question such as, “Are you okay?” is what drives this campaign. While it may not seem like much, it goes a long way.
Mental health is a subject that I hold dear to my heart. I am proud to have been a part of this campaign and to have the opportunity to raise awareness
-- I have been there too.
An important part of reducing stigma around mental health and depression, for me, was being honest when not doing well. A first step was talking about my feelings with someone I trust: It gave me a sense of comfort to know that my family and friends were there for me; it was assuring. Working out depression is challenging. Depression makes it difficult to find the motivation to seek out pleasure and joy. Even in the moments when we do find it, it feels temporary. I tried to be more present in my day to day, moment to moment, trying to experience them and express them to others, to appreciate every moment I was living in, and to accept who I was and what I was going through.
Getting support from other people – family, friends, and/or professionals -- plays an essential role in overcoming depression. On one’s own, it can be difficult to maintain a healthy perspective and sustain the effort required to beat depression. Reaching out is not a sign of weakness and it will not mean a burden to others. There were a few rough nights when I had depression. I called my friends in the middle of the night to confide in them and would start to cry as soon as they picked up the phone. It felt good afterwards though.
To anyone that wants to help people you love who are depressed, ask questions kindly and listen compassionately. A simple “are you okay” and “I am here to talk whenever you need” can go a long way. Let them know you are there to listen and understand for as long as it takes, and you are not taking no for an answer.
To everyone struggling, it gets better.