Derek Wang: Focusing on Depression


Hello everyone,

In my last blog post I gave an introduction to my project and said that I would hopefully post same sample footage. I do have some footage but haven’t had a chance to edit it or look over it fully. I have taken photos of potential scenes I want to include for the film. I plan to use the scenes for voice over when I discuss statistics or other information.

View of Hoover Dam that may be used to depict suicidal thoughts that may arise with depression.

I have decided that I want to focus my project specifically on depression within the Asian American community and how depression during early development, such as adolescence, affects a person’s growth. Depression is highly stigmatized in the Asian American community because it directly opposes the cultural beliefs of image and expression. It is taught in many traditional settings that expressing negative emotions is weakness and that any negative feelings should not be openly discussed. It is up to the individual to be tough and work through it on their own. It is clear that this creates a big difficult problem if the individual has depression because the person will not seek help and try to cope with the problem alone. I hope that with this project I can show that depression is a serious mental illness that needs to be addressed openly.

View of Bellagio on the strip that can be used to show a change of internal emotions.

I currently have an interview scheduled this week with a friend that has depression. I hope that he can vocalize his struggle and explain how it has impacted his high school career and currently affects him now. With this project I have realized that an obstacle with filming documentaries is that you may have a vision for the project on what kind of responses you expect but sometimes you don’t get the answers you expect. This has led me to reformulate my questions and try to make them more specific. I also went on a family trip to Vegas two weeks ago where I was able to take sample footage and photos that I want to use for the project.  So far I have been enjoying the process and hopefully I can really make a difference with this documentary.

View of downtown Las Vegas that can be used to depict being stuck in the crowd and feeling alone.

2 thoughts on “Derek Wang: Focusing on Depression

  1. Hey Derek, great job on your project so far. It seems really unfortunate that there is such a stigma surrounding mental illness within the Asian American community, considering all the medical interventions that are available today. It’s a shame that so many people suffer because they are afraid to talk to anyone about things that could so easily be treated, whether it be through therapy or medication. I’m curious to know if this stigma is unique to Asians that live in America or whether it applies to Asian communities all over the world in general. Moreover, has this stigma been carried over from Asia to America by immigrants? I noticed that Hannah’s project involves very similar themes. She is investigating creative writing and poetry culture at Chinese universities and has stated that generally, communities that promote creative writing and free expression are less common in China than they are in the United States. It seems that this could stem from the same issue you are addressing. In my courses, I have learned that Eastern cultures tend to be collectivistic as opposed to Western individualistic cultures. This collectivism motivates Easterners to always be thinking as part of a team or group and leads people to make decisions based on the good of their family or their community. In contrast Westerners are encouraged to live their lives for themselves and become unique individuals, apart from any family or group. Although I have not studied these cultural differences in depth, I could see this issue of mental health awareness relating to these fundamental sociological differences between Asian and American countries.

  2. Hello! I am so fascinated by your project. Depression, and mental health in general, is definitely no discussed enough in many cultures. Due to the silence surrounding it, those who do struggle with depression are reluctant to find the help they need. I am twenty-one years old and just recently started seeing a therapist, even though I’ve struggled with anxiety and depression since I was very young.

    There is also an interesting link to the research I have been doing with war veterans and PTSD. I took a course last semester called War & Society in Ancient Greece with Prof. Peter Meineck in the Classics department. I don’t have a source to officially back this up, but in one the lectures, he discussed the possibility that (short term) depression is actually a form of emotional protection. That it invites an individual who is struggling to take a step back and remove him or herself from a challenging or harmful situation that is detrimental to his/her mental health and overall character. I think that there is definitely a systematic scourge of barriers in our society that disallow any tolerance of mental/emotional struggle, let alone assistance in providing space and time for healing.

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