Business Standard

Depression main reason for ill health, disability: WHO CAUSE OF CONCERN


Depression is now the leading cause of ill health and disability worldwide, the World Health Organizati­on (WHO) said on Thursday, with more than 300 million people suffering.

Rates of depression have risen by more than 18 per cent since 2005, but a lack of support for the mental health combined with a common fear of stigma means many do not get 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 it deserves,” Margaret Chan, the WHO’s director-general, said in a statement from the UN agency’s Geneva headquarte­rs. The WHO is running a mental health campaign to tackle stigma and misconcept­ions called “Depression: Let’s Talk”.

“For someone living with depression, talking to a person they trust is often the first step toward treatment and recovery,” said Shekhar Saxena, director of the WHO’s mental health | | | department. Depression is a common mental illness characteri­sed by persistent sadness and a loss of interest and lack of ability in everyday activities and work. It affects around 322 million people worldwide.

Depression also increases the risk of several major diseases and disorders including addiction, suicidal behaviour, diabetes and heart disease, which are themselves among the world's biggest killers

WHO expressed concern that in many countries there is little or no support for people with mental health disorders, and said only around half of people with depression get treatment in wealthier nations.

On average just three per cent of government health budgets is spent on mental health, varying from less than 1 percent in poor countries to five per cent in rich ones, according to the WHO. “A better understand­ing of depression and how it can be treated ... is just the beginning,” said Saxena. “What needs to follow is sustained scale-up of mental health services accessible to everyone, even the most remote population­s.” Depression rate has risen by 18% since 2005 More than 300 million people suffering from depression worldwide Many do not go for treatment due to lack of mental support and fear of stigma

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