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Depression is the leading cause of disability, WHO

The World Health Day will be celebrated on 7 April, the high point in World Health Organization’s year-long campaign on depression. The theme is “Depression: let’s talk”.

According to a WHO report released in February, depression is the leading cause of ill-health and disability worldwide.

More than 322 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.

According to the WHO, every dollar invested in improving access to treatment leads to a return of $4 in better health and productivity.

The overall goal of the campaign is that more people with depression, everywhere in the world, both seek and get help.

In Nakuru County, Psychiatric Disability Organization (PDO) joined by Red Cross volunteers will be celebrating the day at the Nakuru Women Prison, where the organisation offers psychosocial supports to inmates and their babies.

Prisons have a high concentration of people with mental illness. Reports by the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics shows prevalence estimates were three to 12 times higher than in community samples, reaching as high as 64%.

It was these grim statistics and the level of marginalization and stigma associated with imprisonment that informed PDO’s decision to celebrate the World Health Day at the facility.

Depression is a persistent sadness and a loss of interest in activities that people normally enjoy, accompanied by an inability to carry out daily activities for two weeks or more accompanied by an inability to carry out daily activities, for 14 days or longer.

Lack of energy, shifts in appetite or sleep patterns, substance abuse, anxiety, feelings of worthlessness and thoughts of self-harm or suicide are also common and can affect entire families.

Treatment can be difficult to access, while a fear of stigma also prevents many people from seeking the help required to live healthy and productive lives.

PDO offers both online and telephone support to people in psychological distress targeting the poor and marginalised people who cannot afford or access professional help.

Let’s talk. Do not suffer in silence. Let is support those in distress by listening to the theme and being supportive. Let us #killstigma for mental health.