The depressed nation


The Age readers write:

Get back on the horse

PREMIER Geoff Gallop’s resignation sends the wrong message regarding depression. How many people have the luxury of retiring on a government pension the moment they become ill?

As a GP who has successfully treated hundreds of patients with depression, my first advice is to always get back on the horse as soon as possible after falling off. By all means take some sick leave, reassess the priorities, rediscover the importance of family and take responsibility for your own health. With modern medicine and supportive counselling, depression is an eminently treatable disease.

If Dr Gallop was sick of politics he should have taken a leaf out of Mark Latham’s book and said so!
Dr Colin Hughes, Glen Forrest, WA

Not funny

DEPRESSION is a major clinical illness with large personal and social costs, as articulated in the opinion piece by beyondblue chairman Jeff Kennett (Opinion, 18/1). But not for cartoonist Michael Leunig who, to have a go at John Howard, on the same day conflates the word “depressing” with the much more serious mental health descriptor “depression”. Not only is his cartoon politically inaccurate in that Howard is preferred as PM by a majority of Australians, but the crass insensitivity of the would-be jocular play on words belies Leunig’s recent maundering self-professed concerns for humanity
Thomas Hogg, East Melbourne

Depression in Australia has been gaining prominence in the past few years, especially with the publicity of the Beyond Blue organisation – driven primarily by former Victorian premier, Jeff Kennett, as its public face – and the recent retirement from politics of the premier of WA, Geoff Gallop. I wonder if the incidence of depression is growing or just being diagnosed more often because of the growth of public awareness.

If one thinks of the Australian electorate as a person (forget about the politicians for a moment), would it be fair to describe that person as depressed? It would make sense, wouldn’t it? It would explain the last federal election result. The hopelessness of the situation that the country is in with: the Australian involvement in Iraq; the entrenched apathy about the wellbeing of asylum seekers in this country with refugees fleeing tyranny or mortal peril being locked in cages out in the desert and being driven slowly insane; Tampa; kids overboard; … the list goes on. There’s surely a national guilt about what has been done in our name so when it came to election time and the agenda was shifted to ‘the economy’ and what was in it for each individual, financially, and no one was being held to account on these travesties, the electorate glibly nodded along with Howard, figured they’d get something in return for the loss of international karma points and gave the 1 vote to the Libs.


I have to hold out some hope that Australians aren’t all money-grubbing, heartless fuckers that stand by the atrocities resulting from the actions of the Howard government. It’d be to depressing to believe otherwise.

I reckon Leunig is completely spot on with his cartoon. And it was funny in the aftershock of Gallop’s resignation. If only it were true.

[tags]depression,beyond blue,jeff kennett,john howard, tampa,children overboard,australian electorate,geoff gallop,leunig[/tags]

  • January 24, 2006