Johann Hari

If you ask me, the dominant discussion around mental ill health is a guarantee of more mental ill health. Of course, you didn’t, but I have been wont in any case to provide an answer: popular journalism, political speech and public campaigns on mental health are faulty. Both conversation and policy are led by a faith that “awareness” is a primary defence against illness -- nowhere has this placebo been more adamantly served than in the ABC’s “Mental As” programming, which delivers us the message that “stigma” is the cruellest cut of all.

Stigma is a problem, but to declare this with such centrality is to imply that stigma’s absence is a cure. Yes, it is unhelpful when the common disorder of depression is perceived by some as indolent self-pity. No, if we remove the “stigma” from the social body and swap it with “awareness”, the best medicine has not been prescribed.