DEPRESSION is the leading cause of ill health and disability worldwide, latest World Health Organisation estimates have reveal.
According to the WHO, the new estimates have been released in the lead up to World Health Day on April 7 which is the high point in the organisation’s year-long campaign “Depression: let’s talk.”
“Depression is the leading cause of ill health and disability worldwide. More than 300 million people are now living with depression, an increase of more than 18 per cent between 2005 and 2015. 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,” the WHO estimates stated in part.
WHO director general Dr Margaret Chan has since warned that the new figures were a wake-up call for all countries to re-think approaches to mental health.
And Dr Shekhar Saxena, the director of the department of mental health and substance abuse at the WHO, said a person living with depression needed to talk to people they trusted as a first step towards treatment and recovery.
The WHO added that there was need for increased investment.
“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 per cent in low-income countries to five per cent in high-income countries,” WHO stated.
The WHO added that every US$1 invested in scaling up treatment for depression and anxiety leads to a return of US$4 in better health and ability to work.
“Failure to act is costly…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,” stated the WHO.