World Health Day falls annually on April 7, and for the past year the World Health Organization has been making depression and mental health the focus on this year’s event. According to information from WHO global depression has increased 18% from 2005 to 2015.
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 Dr 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.”
According to WHO, an increase investment must also come along with work to reduce stigma. They estimate that for ever $1 spent in mental health it returns $4 in the form of better work productivity and health. Access to therapists and anti-depression medications are both options that could provide better overall outcomes if the proper investments are made.
According to a WHO-led study, which calculated treatment costs and health outcomes in 36 low-, middle- and high-income countries for the 15 years from 2016-2030, low levels of recognition and access to care for depression and another common mental disorder, anxiety, result in a global economic loss of a trillion US dollars every year.