THE BLOG

Happy World Health Day

07/04/2017 12:11 BST | Updated 07/04/2017 12:11 BST

Today, April 7th, is the birthday of the World Health Organisation (WHO), 'born' in 1948.

Happy World Health Day!

But is it 'happy', considering that today starts a year-long focus on depression, with the Depression: Let's Talk campaign launch?

It's a multi-billion dollar organisation, so what on earth could we get the WHO as a present? Surely, at nearly 70, with a lifetime spent tackling conditions such as HIV and Ebola, we really should give the WHO a little something? Right?

Depression is the worldwide leading cause of disability and ill health with over 300 million people living with it.

And, rather depressingly, that is up almost 20% in the last 10 years. Of the few people that are diagnosed with depression, only a minority receive adequate treatment - studies show that as little as 1 in 27 in low or middle income countries, and 1 in 5 in high income countries.

So there has been a focus on improving mental health diagnosis and treatments recently - there was a five Year Forward View paper published by the NHS last year, and a Governmental response to it this year.

Aside from the obvious benefits of investing more in the treatment of depression, there are also significant financial incentives. For 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, according to research.

So we know that we need to start doing things differently. We are starting to do things differently. There are many admirable efforts with charities, organisations and healthcare professionals to end the stigma associated with depression and mental health conditions, and to provide help for people affected by them. And these are making progress.

I know you're busy, but please, take a few minutes to watch these videos from the WHO. Pretend it's Instagram if you have to. They explain depression in a way that might help you spot it those around you, or maybe even in yourself.

And as you do so, look around. 1 in 4 of us will have a mental health disorder in a year. It's a pretty good idea to be aware of the signs of depression, as if you're looking at 3 people, odds are someone will be affected. Don't forget to count yourself.

So maybe this is the gift we can give the WHO. It is actually a gift we give to each other and ourselves. We can increase our understanding of depression, our ability to recognise it, and our awareness of how to get help for it. We can increase the conversations we have about it, and the support we give to those who are affected by it.

Let's Talk, and make today a Happy World Health Day.

If you need help or more information, there are many NHS Choices including your local GP, mind and sane.