It feels like only a week ago we were talking about last year’s World Health Day on diabetes, but it’s that time of year again. Each year the World Health Organisation (WHO) chooses an important global medical subject for us to focus on, raise awareness and try and improve upon. This year the focus has shifted slightly from physical diseases to the pressing matter of mental health. The campaign, entitled “Depression: Let’s Talk,” is highlighting the importance of good mental health, and the long journey the world has ahead in taking mental health seriously, with a particular focus on depression.
As part of the campaign for World Health Day on 7th April, WHO released updated global health estimates on the prevalence of depression and other common mental health disorders. It is now estimated that 322 million people globally are living with depression, and 264 million are living with an anxiety disorder. This represents an 18% increase in the last 10 years, although some of this increase may be down to an improved availability to global mental health treatment figures. Indeed, this estimate can only be gained by those who are diagnosed with depression or a mental health disorder; often the stigma surrounding mental health and a lack of knowledge means people go undiagnosed and suffer alone, so the figure could be a lot higher.
The stigmas and confusions around mental health are built upon years and years of culture and lack of knowledge, meaning that for some it is still very hard to break through these barriers and see conditions like depression as a ‘real’ illness. However, certainly within recent years, treatments for depression have developed to a point where treatment and cure is readily available. If we were to look at the disease in the same we do, for example, diabetes, we would see very little differences in the diagnostic process and treatment:
It is so important that all around the world we start to talk more about depression and similar conditions, breaking down the stigmas of mental illness, and empowering people who may be suffering from a mental condition to talk to a healthcare professional, or indeed anyone, about how they are feeling.
There is a pack on how you can help raise awareness this World Health Day for mental health, and we have placed some useful resources for those who think they may have or have diagnosed with depression.
Mandy has worked for Isabel Healthcare since 2000. Prior to this, she was a Senior Staff Nurse on the Pediatric Infectious disease ward and high dependency unit at one of London's top hospitals, St Mary’s in Paddington which is part of Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust. Her experience in the healthcare industry for the past 28 years in both the UK and USA means she's a vital resource for our organization. Mandy currently lives and works in Scottsdale, Arizona.