April 7th marks the 67th World Health Day, with this year’s theme being ‘Depression - Let’s Talk’.
Organised by the World Health Organisation, 2017 will become the first year since 2001 that a mental health issue has been chosen as the focus for the day’s events - with previous themes in that time ranging from road safety to diabetes.
According to the latest estimates depression is the leading cause of ill health and disability worldwide, affecting more than 300 million people across the planet.
These statistics have shown a rise of more than 18% over the past decade, with the reasons for this difficult to pinpoint. Experts believe that a combination of both positive and negative factors may combine to explain why the figures are so worryingly high.
Greater knowledge and acceptance of mental health issues worldwide, combined with a gradual drop in the stigma that can often surround mental illness has, undoubtedly, lead to an increase in the amount of people seeking support. As well as this however new technology can place 24/7 pressures on people, making it seem as if there is no escape from a potentially depressing lifestyle.
Those suffering from depression will also find themselves at a greater risk of a range of conditions; such as suicidal feelings, self-harm, substance abuse, anxiety and appetite loss.
Speaking at the announcement of the day’s theme Dr Shekhar Saxena, director of the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse at the WHO said: “A better understanding of depression and how it can be treated, while essential, is just the beginning. What needs to follow is sustained scale-up of mental health services accessible to everyone, even the most remote populations in the world.”
Globally mental health action groups, healthcare professionals and volunteers will run a range of events to help increase awareness of depression, and help those in need of support gain access to it.