In a startling revelation, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has revealed that as many as 300 million people worldwide are living with depression currently.
According to WHO there has been a massive 18 per cent jump in the people living with depression from 2005 to 2015. The estimates of population living with depression were released by WHO ahead of the World Health Day stating that these numbers should act as a wake-up call for governments around the world and should trigger a review and rethink of the policies and approaches to mental health. WHO also urged countries around the world to give mental health disorders the due attention they need with utmost urgency.
The focus of this year’s World Health Day is “Depression: Let’s Talk”, which is effectively a year-long campaign by WHO geared towards encouraging people with depression to get help they need and deserve.
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. Depression is an important risk factor for suicide, which claims hundreds of thousands of lives each year, says the report. One of the first steps is to address issues around prejudice and discrimination.
“The continuing stigma associated with mental illness was the reason why we decided to name our campaign Depression: let’s talk,” said Shekhar Saxena, Director of the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse at WHO. “For someone living with depression, talking to a person they trust is often the first step towards treatment and recovery.”
Increased investment is also needed. In many countries, there is no, or very little, support available for people with mental health disorders. Even in high-income countries, nearly 50 per cent of people with depression do not get treatment. On average, just three per cent of government health budgets is invested in mental health, varying from less than one percent in low-income countries to five percent in high-income countries, says the report.