Mental illness, specifically depression, has emerged as an issue that many feel uncomfortable discussing and acknowledging. It has built up an infamous reputation that is met with some hostility. In the editorial, ‘Shifting perceptions of depression’ published in The Age, the editor earnestly contends that many in society are affected by mental illness such as depression and therefore should not be considered a social taboo.
The onset of the editor’s argument is influenced by her aim to raise awareness of the issue. She commences by stating that depression ‘cuts through all layers of society’ and it does not discriminate against ‘class, age, gender, job or geography’. Her statement is used to awaken a sense of concern among her readers and to highlight that depression does not choose who it affects, somewhat alluding to the fact that the reader themselves might suffer from depression at one point in their lives. She continues by addressing depression as having a ‘debilitating force on a person’, this highlights mental illness as limiting an individual’s way of life on a day-to-day basis. She has purposely used the word ‘debilitating’ in order to continuously manipulate the feelings of her audience so that they feel sympathetic towards those who are fighting this battle.
The editor’s introduction also stresses the negative way in which the issue has been addressed among the Australian public. She points out that depression has ‘acquired a destructive stigma’ signaling to the negative perceptions and then states that this stigma ‘separates and isolates’ those who are suffering from those who are not. The editor addresses these as a ‘stigma’ because it indicates a negative public disapproval that accentuates the hostility, which has destroyed a sense of community and shown a lack of support, highlighting an inhumane behaviour that is only agitating the situation of those who are suffering. This again is intended bring out a sense of concern within readers and to make them question if they have been contributing to this hostility.
The editor attempts to strengthen the argument by backing up her contention with facts and statistics from a credible source. She begins to regurgitate information from Beyondblue about depression and that ‘one is six people will experience [it] at some stage in their lives’, and that in just a year, ‘1 million Australian adults will have depression’. This is done in an effort to emphasize that depression is not conscious of who it chooses and that it does affect so many Australians. She has chosen to include the fact about Australians as it makes it more personal to the readers; it is done to bring in a feeling of duty to support fellow citizens. The editor has used Beyondblue, as it is a well-known organisation that many are aware of and they know that they focus on raising awareness of depression and anxiety.
The purpose of this section is to inform readers and to show the scale which depression has affected Australia therefore it should be openly spoken about and not forced into the ‘shadows of shame’.
The main body of the editor’s argument is driven by well-known AFL star Mitch Clark who is suffering from clinical depression and has had to ‘fight a private battle… in the public eye’. The editor has chosen Clark to strengthen her argument, as AFL players are perceived in the public eye as tough and indestructible. They are the last people the public would think would suffer from a ‘perceived weakness’ such as mental illness. However, the editor claims that athletes are not ‘less human than anyone else’ referring to the fact that they have as much chance has being affected as someone on the streets. This reiterates that depression does not discriminate, despite