[From the Irish Times >] Peter Whorwell: “Some of the current questions we ask to diagnose depression are quite intrusive, such as ‘have you ever thought about killing yourself?’ which is very difficult to answer.” The only caveat is that such a screening model would have to be validated in different cultures, as red can be a positive colour in China for example. Colours can have different cultural connotations around the world. Whorwell and Carruthers are also currently trying out their model in schools with younger children who can sometimes find it difficult to articulate illness.
Another speaker who has articulated her own illness is leading bipolar disorder expert, Dr Kay Jamison, a professor of psychiatry from Johns Hopkins University and an acknowledged world expert on mood disorders.
In 1995, Jamison wrote a book entitled An Unquiet Mind, where she admitted that she lived with bipolar disorder. Her admission was regarded as a brave move, and she received broad support from her family and colleagues. She will deliver a talk on the consequences of public disclosure of mental illness, relying on her own experience and the stigma that still surrounds some mental health illnesses. I ask her about how people with bipolar disorder feel about being honest about their condition when applying for a job.
On the medical side, Prof Fergus Shanahan from the department of medicine, University College Cork, will speak about what it feels like to be ill, while Dr Aoife Lowney, who specialises in palliative care, will talk about how new media is helping patients communicate their illnesses.
Experience of Illness: Learning from the Arts will be hosted by the Alimentary Pharmabiotic Centre at University College Cork on Friday (5pm-8.30pm) and Saturday, from 9am. It is free, but pre-registration is required. apc.ucc.ie/experienceofillness/