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It’s Time to #DestigmatizeDepression

June 6, 2018

My grandmother committed suicide on my father’s 18th birthday. Obviously, she had untreated mental illness, likely depression, or bipolar disorder.

Kate Spade tragically hung herself in her Park Avenue apartment. One of the most successful fashion designers of all time, she had a net worth of over $150 million. Obviously, Kate Spade had untreated mental illness: likely depression, or bipolar disorder.

Mental illness doesn’t discriminate: Kate Spade was wealthy, and my grandmother was poor. It impacts most, if not all of us, through our friends and family. Yet, unlike with physical illness, there is still a stigma to mental illness- a stigma so strong, that people like my grandmother and Kate Spade don’t get the help they need.

There is an enormous business imperative to destigmatizing depression:

  • Depression is a leading cause of lost U.S. productivity, with an annual cost of $44 billion to employers, according to the Depression Center at the University of Michigan.
  • Employers are losing 27 work days per depressed worker, with two-thirds coming from “presenteeism”–when workers are present, but less productive.
  • Treating depression saves employers $2,000 annually per employee through improved health and productivity, according to the Center of Workplace Mental Health
  • Entrepreneurs are particularly at risk: 49% of entrepreneurs surveyed were dealing with at least one mental illness and about one-third of entrepreneurs struggle with 2 or more mental illnesses
  • Mental illness is estimated to result in $193.2 billion in lost earnings per year.

But more important, we have a moral imperative to destigmatize depression and mental illness:

  • People with untreated depression die, on average, 25 years sooner.
  • In developed countries with well-organized health care systems, between 44%-70% of patients with depression do not receive treatment in any given year.
  • 800,000 people die due to suicide every year, according to the World Health Organization(WHO).
  • Lifetime risk of suicide among patients with untreated depression ranges from 2.2% to 15%.

People are literally dying because they don’t feel safe getting the help they need, because of the stigma attached to depression and mental illness. My passion for helping people with mental health challenges recently led me to taking on the CEO role at UMA Health, an online mental health and coaching marketplace that connects people with providers to quickly get them the help they need.

But I need a lot of help, if we’re going to #DestigmatizeDepression.

Read more on Inc.com and book an appointment for yourself or for someone you love today.

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