World Health Day’s theme for 2017 is depression
Sponsored by the The World Health Organisation, the World Health Day, a global health awareness day is celebrated every year on April 7. This year, the theme of the day is: Depression: Let's Talk.
Depression is a leading cause of ill health and disability worldwide, and effects people of all ages, from all walk walks of life, in every country. According to the latest estimates from WHO, more than 300 million people are now living with depression, an increase of more than 18 per cent between 2005 and 2015. Lack of support for people with mental disorders, coupled with a fear of stigma, prevent many from accessing the treatment they need to live healthy, productive lives.
"These new figures are a wake-up call for all countries to re-think their approaches to mental health and to treat it with the urgency that it deserves," said WHO Director-General, Dr Margaret Chan.
The overall goal of the campaign is that more people with depression, everywhere in the world, both seek and get help. In high-income countries, nearly 50% of people with depression do not get treatment. On average, just 3 per cent of government health budgets is invested in mental health, varying from less than 1 per cent in low-income countries to 5 per cent in high-income countries.
WHO has identified strong links between depression and other non-communicable disorders and diseases. Depression increases the risk of substance use disorders and diseases such as diabetes and heart disease; the opposite is also true, meaning that people with these other conditions have a higher risk of depression. At worst, depression can lead to suicide, now the second leading cause of death among 15 to 29-year-old people.
But it can be prevented and treated. A better understanding of what depression is, and how it can be prevented and treated, will help reduce the stigma associated with the condition, and lead to more people seeking help.
According to a WHO-led study, which calculated treatment costs and health outcomes in 36 low-, middle- and high-income countries for the 15 years from 2016-2030, low levels of recognition and access to care for depression and another common mental disorder, anxiety, result in a global economic loss of a trillion US dollars every year.
The losses are incurred by households, employers and governments. Households lose out financially when people cannot work. Employers suffer when employees become less productive and are unable to work. Governments have to pay higher health and welfare expenditures.
"The continuing stigma associated with mental illness was the reason why we decided to name our campaign Depression: let's talk," said Dr Shekhar Saxena, director, department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse at WHO.