UQ researchers play key role in World Health Day

The slogan for World Health Day being marked on Friday is "Depression: let's talk".

"Lack of availability of psychotropic medicines, proper information with well-structured psychotherapy and other effective measures for primary healthcare services to treat depression is cause for concern", Moeti said.

WHO calls on individuals, communities and countries to talk more openly about depression and scale up the quality and reach of mental health services to prevent untold hardships and precious lives being cut short by depression, a condition that can be easily treated.

Over five crore Indians suffered from depression, a major contributor to global suicides which occurred mainly in low-and middle-income countries like India in 2015, a World Health Organization study has said.

The WHO document said that 322 million people are living with depression worldwide and almost half of them live in South East Asian and Western Pacific region, reflecting relatively large populations of India and China. Latest figures from the organisation estimated more than 300 million people were now living with depression - an 18 per cent increase between 2005 and 2015. Investment in mental health makes financial and social sense, and failure to act is costly.

"Major causes of depression include loss of loved ones or relationships, poverty, unemployment, physical illnesses, alcohol abuse, drug use and traumatic situations such as violence and war". If untreated, depression can be debilitating and even lead to suicide, which is the second leading cause of death among 15- to 29-year olds.

"More broadly, governments, partners and civil society can work together to bring depression out of the shadows in the Region".

The overall goal of the day was to get more people with depression seeking and getting help.

Worse, she added, is that there has been an identified strong links between depression and other non-communicable disorders and diseases.

"School-based programmes which provide counseling and support persons with depression and their families, as well as early detection and prevention especially among children and youths, are also strategies to keep depression at bay". It's an important issue to face, but the good news is that depression is treatable and manageable. "Let's talk about it", Moeti urged.

Dr Shin Young-soo is regional director for the Western Pacific of the World Health Organisation.

Researchers from The University of Queensland have provided key statistics which will support April 7's World Health Day theme - depression and common mental disorders.

  • Joanne Flowers