Charting the Depths

Reflections on the science of depression.

The Come Out of the Dark Campaign: The Next Phase

An instruction manual to crush depression stigma

Depression remains in the dark, a taboo subject that’s difficult to talk about openly. The stigma of depression is hugely isolating for the sufferer and the caregiver. In my last post, I introduced the Come Out of the Dark Campaign, a grassroots campaign of people committed to

A Proud COTD supporter
creating an honest national conversation about depression. The thousands who have joined this movement believe that people who have been affected by depression are entitled to love and respect; we reject the false idea that depressed people are irremediably defective.

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 We are using social media, particularly Facebook and Twitter, to start a humane adult dialogue about depression. We desperately need this conversation not only for adults. We also desperately need it for our children. Our youth are facing depression in high schools and on college campuses in epidemic proportions that will overwhelm them, their parents, and all counseling resources. As a society, we cannot afford to sweep depression under the rug any longer.

One of our tools to fight depression stigma are glow-in-the-dark wristbands that are printed with the phrase COME OUT OF THE DARK.  Whether you’ve suffered from depression or support else someone who has, wearing a COME OUT OF THE DARK wristband sends an important message of love and acceptance.

If you visit our gallery of COTD supporters, I think you can more easily understand why our campaign has taken off, and how it has the potential to shift the conversation about depression on more favorable terms.

Part of why the COTD campaign appeals is the slogan, which has several meanings

•   Let’s end society’s ignorance about depression.

•   Let’s support depressed people so they get well and stay well.

•   Let’s create an environment where people can speak freely about depression and no one feels compelled to conceal their pain.

While I’m very pleased by what we’ve accomplished so far in COTD, its next phase is more revolutionary—the goal is to attack stigma with the flair and unpredictability of a guerilla campaign.

How can I make my actions count on social media?

This revolution will continue to be spread by social media. I suggest

The more people that model that it is okay to talk about depression in our social networks, the more we will draw depression out of the shadows.

What if I want to hold a COTD event at a school, community center, or mental health facility?

Great! I am happy to help you. Please contact me at chartingthedepths@gmail.com and we can arrange for me to participate via phone or Skype!

Still have questions about how to get involved?

 Please write me at chartingthedepths@gmail.com

Want a wristband for yourself?

Sign up here (free wristbands for the next 1,000 people to sign up, US addresses).

A Happy COTD supporter

Jonathan Rottenberg is an Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of South Florida, where he directs the Mood and Emotion Laboratory.

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