Telemedicine can fill in for mental health professionals' shortage: Mukherjee

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"The continuing stigma associated with mental illness was the reason why we chose to name our campaign Depression: let's talk", said Shekhar Saxena, Director of the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse at WHO.

World Health Day is a global health awareness day celebrated every year on April 7, under the sponsorship of the World Health Organization (WHO).

On World Health Day, April 7, talk to fend off depression, suggests the Government of Nunavut's health department.

He said everyone was at risk of developing the disorder as it affected people of all ages, from all works of life and in all countries, adding that it is now a major contributor to the overall global burden of disease.

The country representative noted that at worst, depression can lead to suicide which is now the second leading cause of death among young adults aged 15-29 years. "Effective treatment is available through talking therapies and antidepressant medications, or a combination of both".

This is nothing short of a public health crisis because untreated depression can have tragic consequences.

World Health Organization statistics show more than 300 million people are now living with depression, an increase of around 18 percent between 2005 to 2015.

Yim Sobotra, the head of mental health and substance abuse at the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital, said a person with depression can be identified by symptoms such as loss of interest or pleasure in life, decreased energy, feelings of guilt or worthlessness, hopelessness, insomnia and a lack of appetite.

According to the global health agency, depression is also the major contributor to suicide deaths (about 800 000 per year).

"The focus of World Health Day this year is depression", he added. In the Eastern Mediterranean Region, as many as 1 in 5 people are affected by depression and anxiety in countries affected by armed conflict, insecurity and displacement.

"Even in high-income countries, almost 50per cent of people with depression do not get treatment. This is also important to tackle the social stigma about mental health problems", he said.

Depression is different from normal sadness in that it can take over a person's day-to-day life, interfering with their ability to work, study, eat, sleep, and their ability to feel happy. Now, more psychiatrics are recommending those who went into depression, apart from giving anti-depressant medicines, to go out and interact with friends and family. Additionally, patients with these diseases are more likely to develop depression.

Stigma is the biggest challenge we face in improving mental health today. This can be done by talking and listening to them, helping and supporting them to break free from depression.

"This can be done by having conversations about depression the same way we do with any other disease. More than 90 countries, of all income levels, have introduced or scaled-up programmes that provide treatment for depression and other mental disorders using this Intervention Guide".

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