WHO Focuses on Depression Research, Treatment for World Health Day 2017

Director General of the World Health Organization Margaret Chan speaks during the opening ceremony of the 9th Global Conference on Health Promotion in Shanghai

WHO Focuses on Depression Research, Treatment for World Health Day 2017

The report urges a reduction in stigma and discrimination against those with mental health issues, and the WHO hopes its "Depression: let's talk" campaign will spur conversation about how to reduce stigma. "Effective treatment is available through talking therapies and antidepressant medications, or a combination of both".

According to the Ministry of Health, depression is the strongest risk factor for suicide and in 2016, the male to female ratio for deaths by suicide in Belize was four to one.

Terming the social stigma attached to a mental disorder as a major problem in India, President Pranab Mukherjee today said traditional Indian values along with our family system, can be good mechanisms to support those who suffer from mental health disorders.

The World Health Organisation has identified depression as the leading cause of ill health and disability worldwide. In 2015, at least two people killed themselves every day, with about 40 per cent of them suffering from major depressive disorder.

The board member underscored the importance of assisting those with mental disorders by encouraging them to go for regular health checks and seeking advice for healthy living. Yet, every $1 invested in scaling up treatment for depression and anxiety leads to a return of $4 in improved health and ability to work. Even in high-income countries, almost 50% of depressed people do not get treatment.

People need to be made aware of the fact that depression occurs not due to a person's weakness, but because of imbalances in the brain chemistry, the experts argued.

World Health Assembly was held first time in the year 1948 in Geneva, Switzerland by the WHO where it was made a decision to commemorate the World Health Day annually on April 7.

In addition, people with depression normally have several of the following: a loss of energy; a change in appetite; sleeping more or less; anxiety; reduced concentration; indecisiveness; restlessness; feelings of worthlessness, guilt, or hopelessness; and thoughts of self-harm or suicide. "It is mostly found in youngster who requires immediate attention and counselling".

Depression affects almost 86 million people in WHO Southeast Asia Region and if left untreated, in its most severe form can lead to suicide.

Singh added that depression-related health services across the region must be made more accessible and of higher quality, and this is possible even in low- and middle-income settings.

"The African Region has a critical shortage of qualified professionals for mental health, with just one psychiatrist per one million people and a similar number of psychologists".

"The National Health Policy 2017 prioritises mental health services as a component of addressing non-communicable disease and decriminalises attempt to suicide and has a rights-based approach", said Bekedam.

He said mental health disorders impose an enormous disease burden in societies globally.

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